One of the oldest artifacts in the Living Heritage Museum is a wooden jointed doll named "Abbie Gardiner." Dressed in a black silk dress with a white collar and bonnet, Abbie was born in 1745 in Rhode Island. In 1887, when Abbie was 132 years old, she took part in a fund-raising event for the repair of the steeple of the Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts. People looked at Abbie for 10 cents a peek, and Abbie raised $22. In 1942 when Abbie was 197 years old, she was an attraction in the Antique Show of the Jamestown, Rhode Island Historical Society. She also attended a function for the American Homes Day Luncheon for Women in Council of Roxbury, Massachusetts. Abbie has had several owners throughout her life and now calls the Living Heritage Museum thanks to a generous donation from the Burn family of Niota.
Can you find Abbie?
What else do you see in the picture?
The Where's Abbie Project provides an opportunity for students to make connections with other students who participate in the project.
Students make a Paper Abbie and keep a journal for a few days, documenting the places and activities in which Paper Abbie is involved as if she were visiting from the 18th century. The Paper Abbie and the journal are mailed to other people who are asked to treat the figure as a visiting guest and add to her journal, then return them both after a period of time. The project has many similarities to the Traveling Gnome prank except, of course, for the Paper Abbie Project's focus on history. Students may find it fun to plot Paper Abbie’s travels on maps and share the contents of the journal.