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Loretta Whitfield (1941–2020), creator of Baby Whitney doll

by Linnea Crowther

Loretta Whitfield was an entrepreneur and education counselor who created Baby Whitney, a realistic Black baby doll.

Baby Whitney image via YouTube/BoyLikesDolls

Designing Baby Whitney

Whitfield was inspired to create a new Black baby doll when she was shopping with her nieces. The few Black baby dolls they found in stores in the 1970s didn’t reflect real Black children and weren’t relatable to her nieces, and Whitfield was frustrated with the limited options available. So she and her husband crafted a new Black baby doll with facial features based on a West African fertility doll. Whitfield sewed outfits for Baby Whitney, including traditional African styles as well as American options. Selling the doll via mail order through their company, Lomel Enterprises, the Whitfields became successful enough to need to outsource Baby Whitney’s creation to an overseas supplier. Baby Whitney was featured on an episode of “The Cosby Show” before being discontinued in the 1990s. Whitfield also worked as an education counselor for Howard University.

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Tributes to Loretta Whitfield

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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