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The majority of the Lawrence County Historical Society's Doll Collection was donated from the Estate of Elizabeth Ann Dunseth. However, no less important, are the other dolls that local residents have given to add to the collection. If you have a doll you would like to donate, contact the Society.
Elizabeth Ann Groff Dunseth
Elizabeth, or Libby Ann as she was known to her friends, was born February 3, 1918, in Vincennes to James M. and Laura Bell King Groff. As an only child, she loved playing with dolls, and it is believed that her aunt gave to her favorite niece, the aunt’s dolls that she had had when she was a little girl.
Libby Ann graduated from Lindenwood College about 1938 and then married Richard Dunseth, a civil engineer. She continued her education at U. of I. where she received her master’s degree and began a teaching career. Teaching was merely one aspect of Libby Ann’s life, however.
To keep fit, Libby Ann swam every summer day, logging hundreds of miles in the pool, and once water-skied from Russellville, Illinois to Vincennes, Indiana. She kept up with technology’s challenges by having three computers in her office to assist in the management of her farm properties in Illinois and Missouri as well as Arkansas.
Flying solo to Arkansas on a monthly basis from Lawrenceville, Illinois, Libby Ann oversaw her family’s land holdings, known as the Belle Ann Plantation of 1,280 acres. She owned a Cessna 172 and flew it for 36 years, well into her 80s. Not only did Libby Ann enjoy speed in the air as a pilot, she also enjoyed speed on the ground by racing cars.
Libby Ann and her husband traveled throughout the world, in the 1940s-1970s. In fact, when she traveled to Africa, she used her skills as a pilot to visit many far reaches of the continent. From each trip she brought home a doll to add to her growing collection. But several “international costume dolls” she purchased from the Kimport Doll Company in Independence, Missouri by mail order catalog.
Special cabinets were built into Libby Ann’s family home for her doll collection. Having no children herself, Libby Ann enjoyed sharing her collection with Girl Scout groups and other children in the community. Many of these children had limited travel exposure and she felt this was a way to broaden their horizons, learn about other nationalities and their traditions, and kindle a desire to experience everything the world has to offer. When she died on June 11, 2009, her will provided that her doll collection remain in Lawrenceville to educate and inspire children.
Unless otherwise noted on the description of each doll, the doll that is pictured is part of the Libby Ann Dunseth Doll Collection..