Barbie Doll

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In 1959 the Mattel toy company introduced Barbie. Unlike most dolls at the time, Barbie was a grown-up—a teenage fashion model who could date, drive, and wear fabulous clothes. While often criticized for her unrealistic physical proportions and for promoting gender stereotypes, Barbie has also evolved with the times to reflect social and cultural changes in American culture. Since the 1980s she has taken on many new careers, from police officer to paleontologist to presidential candidate.
Date made
ca 1958
Mattel, Inc.
Place Made
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
fiber (overall material)
straw (overall material)
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Artifact Walls exhibit
Popular Entertainment
American Enterprise
Family & Social Life
American Enterprise
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


"The Barbie currently on display in American Enterprise is not a "fresh-from-the-box " original. The doll came with a bunch of curls at the end of the ponytail, which became a frizzy mess if you tried to comb them. So the owner of this doll did what I did with mine- took a scissors to it and cut off the end of the ponytail!"

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