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Little Henry's Detachable Head


Little Henry's cover

Every time I step into the library, I happen upon some wonderful, little thing that I was not looking for and did not expect to find. This week it was The History and Adventures of Little Henry. Angela, the Curatorial Assistant of Special Collections at Providence Public Library introduced me to this lovely, little story book and paper doll. Little Henry was published in 1810. He is unique as a paper doll because his head is detachable so that his pose can change along with his outfit. He has several different outfit-bodies that range from a pauper’s rags to a naval officer’s uniform. Little Henry also comes with a book that tells the story associated with each outfit. If you are interested in reading about Little Henry’s adventures, I am including a link to a digital archive of his book documented on micro-fiche.


Little Henry as a drummer boy

Little Henry as a pauper

When I was little, I loved to play with paper dolls. As a very young girl, I liked to play with The Gingham’s. Not only did I share a name with one of the characters but I also had a fascination for the Victorian era. As I grew older, I shifted to more complex paper dolls like Peck-Gandre’s Cinderella and Prince Charming dolls.


The Ginghams paper doll set


Cinderella from Peck-Gandre's Enchanted Forest series

Although I enjoyed these paper dolls with their elaborate hairstyles and exquisite clothing, the dolls I treasured the most were the ones that I could see characteristics of myself in, like Duchess Ravenwaves, the small, plastic doll with long black curls and most of all, the chestnut-skinned rag doll I named after my mom.

Representation is important, especially for young girls. Did you have a doll, paper or otherwise, that had special significance to you? Share your story here or join the conversation on IG with #bdhairstory

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