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Vol 2, Issue 3                               FALL 2003


Index ||| Welcome ||| Mailbag ||| About the Editors ||| Collecting News ||| Profile of a Collector ||| Profile of an Artist ||| Doll in the Spotlight! ||| Doll Care Basics ||| Resources ||| FAQ ||| Closing Words

by Debbie Garrett

Created and manufactured by Lomel Enterprises, Inc. of Washington, D.C.,  in November, 1986, Baby Whitney debuted on the Cathy Hughes Morning Show, WOL 1450 AM, Washington, D.C.  The doll became a hit with adults, children and doll collectors throughout the East Coast of America and had an initial retail price of $40.

According to the 1992 and 1993 Baby Whitney Calendars, "the Baby Whitney doll was created to reflect an integration of African art and African American expression.  The doll  stands 21 to 23 inches, has a vinyl head, arms and legs with cloth torso, rooted afro-style hair, hand painted eyes, lips and fingernails.  She also has pierced ears.  The doll lover as well as the child were considered in the design and construction of Baby Whitney. 

The small white spots in the center of the doll's eyes represent light in this beautiful Baby Whitney doll.  At birth, a baby is born full of light; and during a child's development and growth, it is important to keep the light alive." 


"The design of the doll's face is based on esthetic and artistic historical data of both the African and African-American experience combined.  The doll's large head, with its features beginning at one-half disc, and its wide flat face are derived from the Ashanti Aqu-Ba sculpture  (as pictured above) of Ghana, West Africa.

"This unique doll exhibits realism and authenticity, and radiates warmth, beauty and intelligence.  It reflects the culture and positive image of Black American children.

"Baby Whit, for short, stands for wit and wisdom.  Baby Whit's positive image teaches children about wisdom and love.

Throughout the time the doll was on the market, "Baby Whitney received outstanding reviews and awards in media publications such as the New York Times, USA Today, Ebony, Essence, Giftware News and several others.

Bill McTernan, a reporter for Newsday wrote:  "Mel Whitfield's 'babies' are so life-like that CBS used them in the pilot episode of Rescue 911 in which Black children were saved from a fire in Washington, D.C."


According to Black Dolls, an Identification and Value Guide, "Baby Whitney is the first African-American doll selected by the Smithsonian Institute."  Baby Whitney was also the recipient of the Holiday Festival of Black Dolls' Shindana Award for 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992.  This award was given annually in honor of Mr. Lou Smith, cofounder of the Shindana Toy Company, and President of Operation Bootstrap, of which Shindana Toys was a division.

Mel and Loretta Whitfield, an African-American, husband and wife team, formed the company that manufactured this popular doll, Lo(retta)Mel Enterprises.  It is not certain when they closed their doors, but The 1992 and 1993 Baby Whitney Calendars owned by this collector, provide proof that Baby Whitney remained on the doll market at least through 1993.  


In 1993, Baby Whitney was given a value of $70 in Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide, by Myla Perkins. In today's market, Baby Whitney's value is from $100 up, but finding one may not be an easy feat.

If you are interested in acquiring this historically significant doll, try combing the secondary market; and if you check them out frequently, Baby Whitney may even show up at thrift stores from time to time. For the collector who delights in owning dolls manufactured by African-American companies, finding a never removed from box Baby Whitney would definitely be considered a priceless treasure!  

Please note that all of the outfits worn by the Baby Whitney dolls featured in this article, with the exception of the first and last four, were special outfits designed for the doll's appearance in The 1992 Calendar and were never introduced to the doll market.

Even though Baby Whitney is no longer on the market today, she has not been forgotten.

If you would like to have Black Doll-E-Zine spotlight a specific doll, write to: (Deb).