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The Williams Doll and Folk Toys Collection

  • Thailand
  • Brittany
  • Myamar and Cambodia
  • Pakistan
  • Mexico
  • Czech Republic and Slovakia
  • Japan
  • American Girl Scout
  • Peru
  • Hungary
  • American Indian

Courtesy of North Branch Children’s Librarian Bina Williams

In the early 1980s, Marylou Siegfried Williams donated a collection of dolls from around the world to the Wallingford Public Library. She was inspired by a similar collection created by her sister Victoria Siegfried Barker to the Boulder Public Library in Colorado. The Barkers relished world travel and lived in a number of countries around the world.The Williams Collection includes dolls from Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America.  Some dolls have been added by Nancy Williams Ward after her travels to Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. (North Branch Library also has a lovely collection of marionettes from the Czech Republic donated by Nancy Ward.)  Mrs. Williams had many friends and relatives who brought her dolls from their travels as well as ones she purchased.

In 2022, Wallingford Public Library reached out to Bina Williams, North Branch Children’s Librarian, to offer the collection back to the family. What better place to adopt them than the North Branch Library!  The dolls arrived along with their display cases in Mid-March. Each doll has an annotation about its origin.

Included are two dolls from Czechoslovakia that Marylou Williams played with as a child! The tag says they are 50 years old, but they are closer to 90 years old! There is a Girl Scout doll like the ones that Nancy Ward and Bina Williams played with when they were Girl Scouts!

A Hungarian granny knits as she watches the world go by. Two elegant Pakistani women show their beautiful traditional dress. A Burmese fisherman carries pots next to his boat in the country now called Myanmar. Three Thai dancers wear the traditional gold head dresses.

Ms. Williams plans to create some activity sheets for children to compare and contrast the various costume styles from different parts of the world.

Patrons are invited to “visit” the dolls during normal library hours. For more information, contact Bina Williams at 203-576-7821 or bwilliams@bridgeportpubliclibrary.org.