Emily Ruby, Curator, Heinz History Center:
Hi, I’m Emily Ruby, curator at the Senator John Heinz History Center, and I’m here in Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
Ruth Handler came up with the idea for the Barbie doll after she saw her daughter, Barbie, assigning adult roles to her paper dolls. The traditional baby doll trained a girl how to be a mom. Ruth Handler felt that the Barbie doll could offer girls more opportunities for their future. They debuted the Barbie doll in 1959 to mixed results, but little girls loved it and it sold over 350,000 in the first year.