George W. Cooper Doll Collection

The George W. Cooper Doll Collection is named in honor of the elementary school principal under whose leadership the dolls were collected.

In 1935, students and teachers at Theodore Roosevelt School #43 contacted the then-existing 69 countries of the world. Through the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a school or organization was found which wanted to exchange dolls with the students of #43 school. The students offered to send to each country a Shirley Temple doll from the United States in exchange for a doll dressed in the traditional clothing of that country.

In 1940 the students and teachers of #43 school presented the collection of approximately 170 dolls to the Rochester Public Library. Since then, gifts from individual donors have brought the total number of dolls in the collection to over 200.

The doll cases were made in 1997 from some of the original card catalog units that stood in the Central Hall (now Harold Hacker Hall) of the Rundel Memorial Building. The corner cases were used to display the dolls in the original Secret Room, in the Children’s department on the second floor in the Rundel Memorial Building. When the Bausch and Lomb Public Library building was built in 1997, the children’s department was relocated to the second floor of that building and the dolls were transferred to the new Secret Room. In 2022 the Secret Room in the Bausch & Lomb Public Library building was renovated and the doll collection was relocated to be on display on the first floor of the Rundel Memorial Building, in what is now the Arts & Literature Division.

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