The National Negro Doll Company was founded by Richard Henry Boyd. As a former slave Boyd was born Dick Gray on March 5, 1843. He was an entrepreneur, preacher, missionary, publisher, banker, and a Black Nationalist.
In 1911 Henry Boyd founded the National Negro Doll Company. The former slave created the first black doll company for his daughters. It has been said that Boyd was the first to market mass-produced black dolls. He sold black dolls when he was able to purchase from a European manufacturer.
Boyd created the National Negro Doll Company to show a more positive representation of black dolls, instead of disrespectful dolls with caricature features. After the Civil War, African Americans were depicted with exaggerated features, big lips, and enlarged eyes and this carried over to Black dolls. He was driven to create his own company when could not purchase Black dolls for his children.
The National Negro Doll Company advertisement stated “these toys are not made of that disgraceful and humiliating type that we have been accustomed to seeing. They represent the intelligent and refined Negro of today, rather than that type of toy that is usually given to the children, and used as a scarecrow.” Little Black girls could now see themselves as their true beautiful selves.
Richard Henry Boyd was also the owner of other businesses. He owned The Globe and The National Baptist Publishing Board, both located in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1915 Boyd phased out the doll company in 1915. Some have said that his investing more in the National Baptist Church Supply Company and low sales may have affected his closing company. Boyd also owned a publishing company. The RH Boyd Publishing Company is still in operation today.
The National Negro Doll Company not only sold Black dolls to little black girls, it also taught them that Black is beautiful.