Japanese Doll Collection
Located on the first floor of the
library, the Japanese dolls belonged to Anita Shepardson who taught math at Fullerton
Union High School and Fullerton College from 1913 to 1945. After
her death in 1945, her family presented the doll collection to the
college. The dolls reflect Anita Shepardson’s ties with the
Japanese community and Fullerton College. During a time in Orange
County when Japanese and Japanese Americans were sometimes faced
with anti-Japanese sentiments and segregation, Ms. Shepardson strove
to promote cultural understanding and friendship between students.
She organized and sponsored the Japanese Club for Japanese students
at Fullerton Union High School and Fullerton Junior College. The
club presented Fullerton Junior College with a landscaped Japanese
garden. Extracurricular activities were common because Ms. Shepardson
took Japanese students on field trips to the Huntington Library,
Red Rock Canyon and other areas of educational and cultural interest.
Anita Shepardson promoted Japanese arts and culture by organizing
Japanese folk dances, flower arranging or other events on campus
through her numerous contacts in the Japanese community. Students
would remember that Ms. Shepardson displayed the Japanese dolls
in March to celebrate Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival or Girls’
Festival). Traditionally on this day, girls celebrate girlhood at
parties with delicacies such as rice cakes and mild rice wine as
they receive best wishes for health and happiness from friends and
relatives. In Japan, a set of hina dolls are displayed to celebrate
Hina Matsuri. A full set of these special dolls consists of fifteen
dolls dressed in costumes from the Heian Period (794-1185). A typical
set includes the emperor and empress, three ladies-in-waiting, three
guards, two ministers, and five musicians. They are normally displayed
on a tiered stand with miniature furniture and household items with
the imperial couple on the highest tier.
Besides her activities on campus, Ms. Shepardson was active in
the International Relations Club of Fullerton and the Japan-America
Society of Los Angeles. Because of her involvement with the Japanese
community, Ms. Shepardson was invited to go to Japan in 1938 on
a tour sponsored by the Japanese consulate and members of the Japanese
community. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Ms. Shepardson continued
to be a friend and supporter of the Japanese community. She made
numerous trips to the Poston internment center where most of the
Orange County Japanese were incarcerated.
The Japanese doll collection is on display in remembrance of an
instructor who dedicated her life to her students and worked to
promote understanding between two cultures.
Presidential Doll Collection
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
of Fullerton. 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.