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The Original Toy Story: The Live Dolls Children’s Book Series

(Released May 24, 2010) – The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library is proud to announce its latest historic exhibition, The Original Toy Story: The Live Dolls Children’s Book Series, on view now through the end of August, 2010. The display details the fascinating book series about dolls who come to life or Live Dolls, as written by Josephine Scribner Gates (1859-1930), who was raised in Toledo.

The exhibit also features the works of illustrator Virginia Keep Clark (1878-1962), of New Orleans, Louisiana. Clark illustrated most of Gates’ Live Dolls books.

The exhibition is being presented by the Library’s Local History and Genealogy Department, and is located behind glass in The Blade Rare Book Room, located on the third level of Main Library, 325 Michigan St. The display includes Gates’ Live Doll books, a sample of Clark’s original illustrations from the Children’s Library collection, and 11 older dolls, including vintage Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls on loan to the Library from private collectors. This exhibit is FREE and open to the public during regular Main Library hours.

About Josephine Scribner Gates, author

Josephine Scribner Gates was born in 1859 in Mount Vernon, Ohio in a large family as one of eight children. Her father, Charles H. Scribner, an attorney, moved his family to Toledo in 1869 where he practiced law, and in 1887, was elected a judge of the 6th Circuit.

As young Gates grew and later married in 1881 she had three children with her husband Charles H. Gates, who established the Gates Tourist Agency in Toledo and specialized in tours of Mexico until revolutionary activities curtailed his tours. The couple’s youngest child Charlotte, born in 1890, was the inspiration for Josephine’s stories and books about Live Dolls. Charlotte liked to pretend that her dolls were alive and Josephine began telling her daughter stories about live dolls. Gates began her book series career with The Story of Live Dolls in 1901. This title was followed by 23 additional books until the last one The Secret of the Live Dolls was published in 1924.

About Virginia Keep Clark, illustrator

Virginia Keep Clark was born in 1878 in New Orleans. She taught children’s classes at the John Herron Art Institute and later in life, she instructed convalescing World War II soldiers in beginning painting in Winter Park, Florida. As a noted portraitist, Clark painted many affluent families of the day. She specialized in portrait sketches of children and illustrated most of Gates’ early Live Dolls books, as well as books for other authors. The Live Dolls in Wonderland (1912) was the last Gates book illustrated by Clark. The Children’s Library owns a collection of original illustrations by Clark.

The Live Dolls author Josephine Scribner Gates was also known in Toledo for telling stories to audiences of children during school visits. She carried two large suitcases of toys with her, many of which she collected during her travels or received from friends.

Please visit this historic exhibit and learn more about the Live Dolls book series written by Gates, and the accompanying illustrations by Clark.