History Nebraska Blog

Reader Rescue: Can you help us tell the story of our new "Donna Dolls"?

The NSHS recently received a donation of four "Donna Dolls," which were manufactured in Lincoln by a woman named Marguerite Polk Tapley. We know very little about them, and we hope that our readers can help us. If you have any information about "Donna Dolls," please comment here or email kylie.kinley@nebraska.gov.

 

A new donation to the NSHS collections included these "Donna Dolls," which we know very little about.

 

Here is the little we do know. Marguerite Polk Tapley (1895-1977) is noted as the creator of Donna Dolls in the March 2, 1952 Lincoln Journal. It seems to have been a small business, possibly run out of a residential home. The bulk of the small article actually has to do with her having a script produced by the “Dr. Christian” radio show. The show ran from the 1930s to the 1950s and billed itself as “the only radio program written by the audience.” Polk Tapley was also associated with the Nebraska Writers Guild, though in what capacity we're not sure. Her parents were Jonathan and Donzella Polk. She married Mark Sanford Tapley, Jr. (1901-1952) in 1942. He was the proprietor of The Old Book Store on N. 11th Street in Lincoln. That’s the only business we can find associated with Marguerite, as she took over the business for a few years after her husband’s death. Donna Dolls isn’t listed in any Lincoln City Directory we could find between 1940 and 1960. Marguerite listed a different occupation on each census and none of them had to do with running a business (they all took place before her marriage).

 

A stamp on a Donna Doll shows they were made in Lincoln, NE.

 

   

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