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A Journey through history

A wishbone doll is part of the museum’s collection.
A wishbone doll is part of the museum’s collection.Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

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History’s “ugly truths” are here inside an unlocked cabinet just insidethe entrance to the new Black Doll Museum in Mansfield.

Visitors can reach into the cabinet and touch figures of mammies; dolls made by slaves from bells, thimbles, and animal wishbones; or a dark -faced pickaninny doll. Then there are the golliwogs – minstrel-type rag dolls popularized in the 19th century whose jet-colored skin, white-rimmed eyes, and red clown lips sparked heated debates about how toy companies and popular media were depicting African-Americans.

“People get really upset about these,’’ says Debra Britt, the museum’s founder. “They don’t want to see it. They don’t want to talk about it. But I like it because it is history.”

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