The Presidential Doll Collection was created
by Mr. Lewis Sorensen. Mr. Sorensen was born in 1910 in Salt Lake
City, Utah. He left school in the 8th grade to work in
a dress shop. He soon
began designing dresses and the “Lewis
Dress” became the store’s best seller.
Mr. Sorensen became a leading artist and sculptor, specializing
in wax. After World War II, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt commissioned
Mr. Sorensen to create a set of presidential dolls for her home
in Hyde Park. Mr. Sorensen created three sets of presidential
dolls. Besides the set for Mrs. Roosevelt, one set went
to a museum in Santa Claus, Indiana, and the other set now owned
by Fullerton College belonged originally to Mrs. Dorothy Atherton
The Administration at Fullerton College saw the opportunity
to purchase the dolls that included all the presidents and their
wives from Washington to Truman for the college for $454.50 at
auction after Mrs. Atherton’s death in 1962.
The Faculty Women’s club was able to raise enough money
to repay the three administrators, and when the library building
was remodeled in 1967, a special case was created for them. Mr.
Sorensen had then completed President & Mrs. Eisenhower
and President & Mrs. Kennedy and donated them to the collection.
During the summer of 1977 Mr. Sorensen again brought the set
up to date for Fullerton College and presented the college with
eight more dolls, from President & Mrs. Johnson through President
and Mrs. Carter. He added his final pair, President and
Mrs. Reagan, in 1980, making the FC Collection the most complete
set of dolls. Lewis Sorensen died in Fullerton in 1985.
Mr. Sorensen developed his own method of making the dolls, first
sculpting the features in clay. This is covered in order
to make a mold. In the mold is cast papier mache which
is covered in a thin coating of wax. His own formula incorporated
the flesh tones and the color right into the wax. The bodies
are made of cloth and the head, arms, lower legs and feet are
made of wax. Using his dressmaking talent, Mr. Sorensen
sewed each costume for the dolls right onto the body.
Credits: Anne Riley, FC Archivist, Retired,
Fullerton News Tribune article, 1963