Female Ventriloquist Dummy

Female Ventriloquist Dummy

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Description (Brief)
This is one of three ventriloquist dummies that belonged to Frederick Lamb. This figure, made of wood and painted black, has a hand carved head, a hinged jaw, glass eyes, and carved hands and feet. Her body is made of a soft cotton stuffing material, and she has a hole in her back in order to operate the pole that manipulates the body. She is wearing a white cotton petticoat under a red cotton dress made of bandana material and dons a pair of child's lace up leather shoes. Only remnants of soft wool fibers remain on her head to simulate hair. It is unclear if Lamb actually made the figure or adapted it for his own use.
Born in 1883, in Nashville Tennessee, Lamb began his career at 12 years old when he ran away from home and joined a carnival. He traveled with carnivals, side shows and circuses for almost 75 years. He toured with a number of small traveling circuses and performed in Paris and England, where he performed for Queen Victoria.
Lamb's talents included ventriloquism, magic, puppetry, and a repertoire of black face comedy skits. Lamb was exceptionally talented in that he was a double ventriloquist; he had both dummies talking to each other and to him at the same time. Later in life he traveled through Appalachia and coal mining communities in Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina to provide entertainment for children and adults living in remote areas.
Currently not on view
Object Name
dummy, ventriloquist
date made
ca 1875
Lamb, Frederick
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
cloth (overall material)
metal (overall material)
leather (shoes material)
glass (eyes material)
overall: 40 1/2 in x 10 in x 5 in; 102.87 cm x 25.4 cm x 12.7 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Charles S. (Charlie) Lamb
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Entertainment
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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