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April 4, 2001

"Illinois Doll" Joins Unique State Collection in Pennsylvania

SPRINGFIELD -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan announced today that a specially designed hand-crafted doll representing the State of Illinois has taken its place among 47 other "state dolls" at the Strawberry Mansion Doll Museum in Philadelphia.

The doll, created by Illinois artisan Dana Underwood, is clothed in a white turn-of-the-century dress with panels that depict symbolic, cultural, historic and landmark representations of Illinois. The doll took more than 400 working hours to create.

"For many years, Illinois was missing from the State Doll Collection at Strawberry Mansion. But now, thanks to Dana's skill and creativity, our state is represented by a true work of art that reflects the greatness of Illinois," Mrs. Ryan said. "Visitors to Strawberry Mansion will now see an Illinois doll along with those from other states."

The "State Doll Collection" at Strawberry Mansion was conceived in 1926 as part of Philadelphia's Sesqui-Centennial Exposition celebrating the 150th anniversary of the United States. The governors of all 48 states at that time were asked, through women's clubs and other organizations, to exhibit a doll dressed to represent their individual state.

While a majority of the original state dolls were kept in Philadelphia, some were returned to their states for display after the Exposition closed. Last summer, the Doll Museum asked the governors of "missing" states for a new doll. All of the state dolls are between 12 inches and 15 inches high and are made of varying materials.

The Illinois Doll's dress is composed of different panels that highlight significant places, events and people from Illinois history. The panels include the state's official symbols; President Abraham Lincoln; Alton's Robert Wadlow - the world's tallest person; Monmouth native Wyatt Earp; all three existing state capitols; the Governor's Mansion, Chicago's Sears Tower; Cahokia Mounds; and memorials to the state's war veterans.

The doll's creator, Dana Underwood, is a resident of Springfield and has been sewing and creating doll clothes and quilts since she was four years old. Underwood and her husband Dan have six children and six grandchildren. She is employed at the Department of Public Aid and grew up on a farm in Farina, Illinois.

Strawberry Mansion, built in 1789, is the largest of eight colonial-era houses still standing in Philadelphia's Fairmont Park and now is an historic site and tourist attraction. The Doll Museum is located in the mansion's attic.


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