Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Four Little Girls by Starkey's Daughter Cloth Dolls

Pressed felt faces of dolls that were in the making by Rachel McCullough Sherrod of Starkey's Daughter Cloth Dolls

Rachel McCullough Sherrod of Starkey’s Daughter Cloth Dolls has been making dolls off and on for decades but seriously began dollmaking in 2012 after her retirement. 

Among others, she enjoys making childlike dolls of historical significance.  Her most recent dolls are a set of four, a tribute to the four little girls who tragically lost their lives during the September 15, 1963, bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.   According to Rachel, the idea to make this set was suggested to her by a seasoned, experienced, and well-respected doll collector. 

The Four Little Girls:  Carol Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins, and Cynthia Wesley are beautifully represented in doll form.

As shown above, the completed dolls represent Denise McNair, whose full name was Carol Denise McNair (age 11); Carole Robertson (age 14), Addie Mae Collins (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14).  Their pressed felt faces are individually sculpted, and their bodies are made of cloth.  With the exception of Denise, each doll stands 20 inches tall.  Denise, described as petite, was the youngest of the girls.  The Denise doll stands 16 inches.

Carol Denise McNair's sweet expression is captured in doll form.
Carole Robertson's closed-mouth, wide smile is artistically reproduced.

The bespectacled Addie Mae Collins doll has a large red ribbon in her hair.
Cynthia Wesley's sweet smile and bright eyes are nicely duplicated in the Cynthia doll.

Currently only one set of the Four Little Girls dolls exists.  Rachel has not determined if additional sets will be made.

On February 5, 2017, the Four Little Girls dolls will be on display at a viewing of the award-winning documentary, Why Do You Have Black Dolls?  Rachel will host this event, which includes two viewings of the documentary at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. EST.  The flyer below contains full details.

For more information about these and other dolls made by Rachel of Starkey’s Daughter Cloth dolls, please contact her by email or by visiting her website.

Read more about the tragic deaths of Carol Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins, and Cynthia Wesley at the first two links below.  The third link redirects to the Why Do You Have Black Dolls? website.

16th Street Baptist Church Bombing
Four Little Girls of Birmingham Remembered
Why Do You Have Black Dolls?


  1. Their deaths were such tragedies that I hope they're never forgotten so anything that contributes to keeping their memories alive and reminds people of the terrorist act that tried to destroy them is good.
    I saw this post very early this morning and thought about it all day. That little girls who never got to grow up are immortalized as dolls is so sad but they're beautiful dolls. Rachel is very talented.

    1. They were innocent souls robbed of their lives due to hatred and racism that resulted in a terrorist attack against them for no other reason except the color of their skin.

      There were so many bombings of their middle class Black community that Birmingham was nicknamed Bombingham. Angela Davis and Condoleeza Rice have written about their experiences living there as children during this time.

      I cannot begin to imagine what life was like to live amongst so many blatantly racist people. The sad thing is these attitudes have never really gone away; they have been kept just below the surface, but have now begun to boil over. Heaven help us... all.

      We can never forget.


  2. It may sound stupid but Couldn't help but shed a tear of joy when reading this article. These four dolls are one of the bets things that could be made in memory of these four little princesses who died.

    1. No, it does not sound stupid Arlette. I was happy that Rachel decided to create these tribute dolls in honor of the girls.

      Denise McNair loved dolls (the other girls probably did as well), but some of her dolls were included in Spike Lee's documentary 4 Little Girls,. In the documentary, Lee interviews the girls' parents, family members, classmates, and others who survived that horrific experience. A portion of Lee's interview of Denise's mother took place in the child's bedroom where some of her favorite things, including dolls, remained.


  3. I recently found the documentary on Angela Davis called 'Free Angela & All Political Prisoners" where she talked about knowing the four little girls from her neighbourhood, and that a couple were quite good friends with her sister, I literally just watched it and to find your article both spookily timely and a lovely tribute to such a tragic event. Especially considering the insensitive politics at play currently across the world. Perhaps in some small (or large way) these four dolls remind us that their story is part of a long continuum of history that should not be forgotten.

    1. I've seen that documentary on Netflix too or maybe it was another one where Davis speaks about knowing the older girls. She also wrote about knowing them or living in the same neighborhood in her autobiography. This was such a tragic event. Having at least one set of dolls to memorialize the four was a "genius" idea, and a perfect reminder that we should not allow the country or the world to revert to such a climate of hatred (but I fear it may be a little too late).


  4. This was a really great contest and hopefully I can attend the next one. It was alot of fun and I really enjoyed myself.. Best 18 Inch Dolls in America


Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts. Please feel free to share the link to this blog or post with those who will enjoy reading it.