Raggedy Ann's Tragic And Often Misunderstood Origin Story

For much of the 20th century, Raggedy Ann was a childhood favorite, but it has also been the subject of deep rumors and conflicting origin stories. Where did Raggedy Ann come from? Could she possibly have been, as some anti-vaccination activists have suggested, modeled after a dead child?

Rag Doll

According to legend, between 1900 and 1902, Indianapolis landscape painter Johnny Gruel was cleaning his parents' attic when he happened upon a faceless rag doll his mother had once made for his sister. Some variations of the story claim that it was his daughter Marcella who discovered the doll, but Gruel's wife confirmed that her husband had found it before their daughter was born. However, after Gruel painted a cynical face on the cloth and began to make up adventure stories about the doll to entertain Marcella, she became its main beneficiary.

Raggedy Ann

At the start of the new year in 1915, Johnny Gruel took the first steps to mass-produce his rag doll and publish children's books with it. When it came time to name the doll on a patent application, Gruel thought of his friend and neighbor, the poet James Whitcomb Riley, and two of his most famous poems, "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphant Annie", the latter of which It later served as the inspiration for the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. The patent was approved on September 7, 1915, but the ceremonies were shortened.

Marcella Gruel's Death

A popular myth holds that Marcella Gruel died after being vaccinated against smallpox without her parents' permission, which is technically true, but the 13-year-old died of diphtheria, not smallpox or the vaccine itself. of any complexity. This was a mandatory vaccination that was given to all students, which is why the school did not ask for parental approval, but repeatedly used the same needle for each student and, at some point, diphtheria. Picked up the bacteria that caused it. We now have a vaccine to stop it. Of course, by the time Marcella Gruel died in November 1915, her father had already created Raggedy Ann, so he couldn't model it after his daughter's lifeless face, as is rumored.

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