The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects

All Dolled Up: The Handmade Paper Dolls of Carrie Douglas Dudley Ewen

This unique collection of hand-drawn and painted paper dolls was created by Kentucky artist Carrie Douglas Dudley Ewen.

Life and Career

Ewen was born in Flemingsburg, Kentucky on March 31, 1894 to Charles Lee Dudley and Lula Kenner Dudley. Her artistic abilities surfaced at a young age, as she spent much of her time drawing and crafting paper dolls. She was encouraged in these pursuits by her mother who was an avid painter, and whose works are also part of the Filson’s museum collection. Ewen left Kentucky to study at the Art Institute of Chicago, and lived in New York, Chicago, Italy, and California before returning to Kentucky in 1963. Ewen was a pioneer for women artists in the commercial world, and worked under the name “Doug Ewen” for much of her career. Niece Lu Ann Weinstein reflects on Ewen, saying, “Aunt Doug [was] making money long before women were supposed to be so uppity.”

Ewen is known for her commercial work illustrating children’s books and cookbooks, as well as her work designing holiday cards for Henri Fayette, NuArt, and Chrysons card companies. However, her artistic flourish was not relegated to her business. In her spare time, she created a number of oil paintings of family members and friends, and experimented in a variety of media.

Work in Paper Dolls

Though Ewen was a well known professional artist, it is believed that she had no intention of profiting from these beautiful dolls. Instead she gave them as birthday and holiday gifts to the children in her family, who cherished them throughout their lives.

After reading a publication on her aunt, Lu Ann Weinstein wrote to the Filson, asking “Did you see the marvelous paper dolls that Doug created? They are as playful and cute as my aunt was. If you run across the one in color with an entire wardrobe, that is me! She sent it to me when I was ill to cheer me up and to let me know she was thinking of me.”

These dolls and their many detailed accessories indeed display the skill and spirit of the artist. Each doll in the collection is named with a note on its back.