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West Valley City Journal

Local club celebrates 50 years of collecting, enjoying dolls

May 02, 2022 09:29PM ● By Darrell Kirby

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

Their girlhood may be long gone, but the love of dolls is still very much alive among a group of local women.

The 15 members of the Lewis Sorensen Doll Club met in April in West Valley City to celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary and their love of collecting dolls. It is the local chapter of the national United Federation of Doll Clubs.

Born in 1910, local dollmaker Lewis Sorensen gained acclaim by creating a variety of wax dolls that were beloved and collected by kids and adults alike. The namesake club was started in 1972 by a woman named Margaret Price who grew up with Sorensen in South Salt Lake. Sorensen died in 1986.

“We meet monthly and there’s usually a program about a certain kind of doll, anything from modern to antique,” said Lewis Sorensen Doll Club historian Lenell Chance. That spans everything from American Girl and Barbie dolls of more recent times to French fashion dolls and china dolls made of glazed porcelain.

Members host the meetings in their homes, hence the reason for the small membership. “The member that’s (hosting) the meeting can come up with whatever topic they want about dolls,” Chance said from her West Jordan home. “It could be something about a certain type of doll, the origin of it, the creator of it.” There is also a show-and-tell session along with a craft activity like making an accessory for a doll.

Chapter members must have a collection of at least 10 dolls to qualify for membership “which for doll lovers isn’t anything,” Chance said. “It doesn’t matter what kind they are. They can have 10 Barbies.”

The all-female membership ranges in age from 35 to one woman in her 90s and most reside along the Wasatch Front. “Most of the people, unless they move or die, are in there for a long time,” Chance said. One lady passed away in January, just shy of 50 years in the Lewis Sorensen Doll Club.

Some women in the club not only collect dolls for the sake of collecting, but also search for and buy dolls that are broken so they can repair them to give them new life. Chance said they also enjoy dressing their dolls in the fashions of the periods when the dolls were made.

Despite the proliferation of technology among young people, retail sales of dolls in the U.S. still totaled about $3.78 billion in 2021, a slight increase from the previous year, according to Statista, which compiles market and consumer data.