Hitty is a small wooden doll, about 6-1/2", who presently lives in the Stockbridge Library, Stockbridge, Massachusetts. She is believed to have been about 100 years old when she was found in an antique shop by Rachel Field and Dorothy Lathrop in about 1929. Rachel and Dorothy wrote and illustrated (respectively) such a charming story of the way they imagined Hitty's life, that not only did the book, Hitty ~ Her First Hundred Years, win the Newbery Medal for children's literature (1929), but Hitty became beloved by all from that time to this. The book has been republished many times (it is still available and I highly recommend it) and there has developed an enormous following for Hitty and all of her things. Many people make Hittys, most of wood, some of cloth, some porcelain. I chose papier mache to be in keeping with her sculpted look (especially her hair), but I wanted to make a kit of Hitty, so it seemed ideal to draw upon my many years of mold making, and make a doll that not only was my Hitty, but one that others could make too and still be recognized for who she is.

Hitty Dolls by Gail Wilson

 



My Hitty Series began in 2004 with, of course, the doll and some basic outfits. By January, 2005 the rest of the many items that were to be part of this series came along one piece at at time. The series includes: clothes, hats and bonnets, a four-poster bed and quilt, a chair, a secretary, her memoirs and other small books, a sampler, a rug, a bench, travel boxes, even her own peg wooden Hitty doll and other items and is added to as time goes by. Wooden Hittys were added in the fall of 2010 and a new cloth bodied Hitty (still my favorite) with carved wooden arms and legs became available fall of 2015. The size of Hitty and how she feels in your hand will win your heart. The various Hitty Kits come with everything you need to make your own Hitty. Or, there are clubs to join for both the finished Hitty and all her things as finished pieces, or clubs to receive all of the series as kits.

Hitty Doll by Gail Wilson

Above is shown my original Hitty with molded parts and a cloth body.

The real story of Hitty begins long before she was brought to life by Rachel Field and Dorothy Lathrop, who wrote and illustrated (respectively), Hitty, Her First Hundred Years (published 1929). What they created was the make-believe life of Hitty, a small wooden doll of unknown origins, before she came to the antique shop window where she won their hearts (in real life). Legend has it that Hitty was about 100 years old at the time the story is written.
The story of Hitty, who is carved by an itinerant peddler for Phoebe Preble, a little girl of seven, while he winters with the Preble family on the coast of Maine (Phoebe's father is a sea captain), is filled with her misadventures which begin almost immediately once she is carved, painted, and clothing made. The story is delightfully conceived so as to be Hitty's own memoirs quite philosophically written of her accounts on being lost many times and taken on adventures far from her beloved home. The story travels through one hundred years of adventures until she at last ends up in the antique shop. In real life, Hitty was frequently admired, but not purchased (until almost too late), by Rachel Field and Dorothy Lathrop who begin to fabricate Hitty's life. They knew her name was Hitty, for pinned to her little brown dress is a paper so marked. This detail is written into the story in a new version in which Hitty, first named Mehitabel, but shortened by Phoebe Preble to a more reasonable "Hitty", has her name cross-stitched on her chemise. Eventually, after a fright of believing Hitty has been sold, they do buy her and take her off to Maine where the story is brought to life and then published as the book we all know. Over time, Hitty acquired more possessions, including furniture and other clothing and quilts, eventually having a wooden "bookcase apartment" to travel in, for she did do some real traveling once the book was published and won the Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American Literature for Children of the year 1930. I actually did not read the book, though I found one right away when it was clear I was going to make this doll, feeling with some smugness that I already knew the story, but I have to say that once read, I dearly loved Rachel Field's Hitty and felt it was so charmingly written that it stood on its own with or without a real doll on which to be based.

Hitty's Dress Restored and Displayed in Stockbridge. This dress was worn while Hitty was being painted by Dorothy Lathrop - as seen in the colored Frontispiece of Hitty (see photo above). The Real Hitty Seated Front View of the Real Hitty Back View of Real Hitty Frontispiece from Hitty, Her First Hundred Years. This was Hitty's imaginary daguerreotype.



There is a lot of material out there to research. I have lots of material here that was kindly loaned to me and photocopied of just about everything in print about Hitty. Unfortunately since everything is a photocopy, nearly all of the pictures are degraded enough as to not allow proper reproduction. I will add a few here that I can, but many more are available if you look around on the internet. A good place to start is http://www.hitty.org
• I recommend that everyone own or at least read a copy of the original Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, by Rachel Field and illustrated by Dorothy Lathrop. This was first published in 1929 and in 1930, received the Newbery Medal. There were many reprintings, but most at least all have the original black and white illustrations by Dorothy Lathrop and are still commonly available new and used. Most libraries have at least one copy as well.
• Go to the Stockbridge Library to see Hitty in person. There you will see most of her belongings displayed with her.
Friends of Hitty Newsletter, produced beginning in 1995 by Virginia Heyerdahl, covers much of the history of first the interest in Hitty and how many people started making Hittys based on the illustrations in the book, then how it came to light that there were pieces of furniture that were known to have been for Hitty, so was there a real doll and if so, where was she, then again how Hitty was found and ultimately given to the Stockbridge Library. These newsletters also tell about lots of the other makers of Hittys and various Hitty conventions and doings. You can subscribe to this newsletter by emailing HittyandFriends@aol.com.
• On various websites (just type Hitty into a search engine), you will find lots of Hitty info (more than you may have time to read), including newly made Hitty stuff and historical information and pictures.One website that has good pared-down info is http://www.hittypreble.com/born.html
• There are and have been many Hittys carved in wood with quite a few people doing Hittys for sale. One avenue to consider is the kits of Judy Brown, a well-known Hitty artist, to carve your own Hitty from her pre-cut and slightly shaped Hitty.
• The video, Hitty, an American Travel Doll, by Sirocco Productions (www.siroccovideo.com) is a good reference and fun to watch. I owe it, even though at first I was a harsh critic of it, and Gail Shaw, of Stockbridge, MA, my own Hitty.
• The newer book Rachel Field's Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, by Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers, © 1999, is filled with colored illustrations of this updated Hitty. This is a lovely book, but I feel its value is more in showing us in yet another way how wonderful Hitty was and is, but the real story of Hitty still belongs to Rachel Field (and Dorothy Lathrop) and so this book should not be a substitution for the original.

If you would like a printed out version of my Hitty Catalog. please send $3 to:

Gail Wilson Designs, LLC
420 Grout Hill Road
South Acworth, NH 03607

Or order one here Add to Cart

If you will be placing an order and would like a catalog, they are free with an order Click Here to add to your order

Hitty, Her First Hundred Years (Hardbound) ~ finally after a long time unavailable, a nice hard bound version. This one is similar to the original and has all of Dorothy Lathrop's black and white illustrations. Size is 6.5" x 8.5." This book will not fit the cloth cover kit below, but being hardbound, does not need it. $19.99 Add to Cart

Hitty, Her First Hundred Years

Hitty, Her First Hundred Years (Paperback Version) ~ If you don't own a copy of this beloved book originally published in 1929, here is an inexpensive paperback version. Of course, Hitty lovers may want to look on used book sites for an older hard bound version, but here is a suitable printing that allows you to own the story complete with black and white reproduction of the original illustrations by Dorothy Lathrop. $6.99 Add to Cart

Make a Cloth Book Cover ~ If you would like a more heirloom-looking book but have the paperback, order this small kit which will cover the book above (kit only fits the 5" x 7-1/2" paperback above) with a fabric print and a reproduction of the original title block to apply to the new cover, making it similar to the old books like the one shown below.

Complete kit for cover only. $20.00 Add to Cart
Extra Printed Cloth Logos $1.50 Add to Cart
Finished book cover $28.00 Add to Cart
Complete book above with cover $34.00 Add to Cart


There have been three online classes for Hitty that drew students from 9 countries and totaled over 200 students. Many people have made more than one Hitty. There has also been an online class to make the Wooden Hitty & Friends dolls. No additional classes are scheduled at this time, but check the Classes page of my website (see menu at left) for the latest postings. You can also buy complete CDs of online classes with all of their extra information, pictures and added patterns either separately or with the kit to make a Hitty. Go to the Hitty Finished Dolls & Hitty Doll Kits link in the submenu above for Hitty Kits and CDs.


If you would like to join my Hitty message board which is a place to chat about all things related to Hitty or ask questions about making Hittys or things for Hittys from my kits and patterns, you can do so below. When you get there, please introduce yourself and join in. I also have a message board just for general dollmaking which you can sign up by clicking the Sign Ups link in the Footer Menu below.