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Most people think of Annalee dolls as cheerful home decor for holidays throughout the year. But did you know that Annalee’s first “big break” was actually creating advertising displays to promote skiing in New Hampshire? From the early 1950s to the 1970s, Annalee dolls were the official mascots of New Hampshire tourism. Annalee Thorndike was charged with designing dozens of dolls highlighting activities in New Hampshire. The earliest dolls showcased the great outdoors, with the skiing industry the most-prominently featured.
A new exhibit at the New England Ski Museum Eastern Slope Branch titled “New Hampshire Ski History with Annalee Ski Dolls” includes an enchanting assortment of Annalee dolls and memorabilia that emphasize the dolls’ integral role in the state’s skiing culture. The exhibition also features quotes and images from the biography Behind the Smile: The Story of Annalee Thorndike, published in 2021.
The Conway Daily Sun recently prepared an article on the museum exhibit and Annalee Thorndike’s contribution to New Hamphsire’s burgeoning ski industry as well as the state’s overall economy.
The article delves into Annalee’s broader impact bringing tourism to New Hampshire and how her dolls also promoted local products. When Annalee dolls became the official mascots of New Hampshire tourism they gained nationwide popularity for their mirthful expressions and unique poses. The article also gives insights into Annalee Thorndike’s entrepreneurial spirit and her role as a pioneering businesswoman, breaking gender norms during an era when women were encouraged to stay at home. The article not only celebrates the dolls as a cultural phenomenon but also sheds light on Annalee’s significant contributions to the ski industry and the state’s history.
You can visit the Annalee exhibit at the New England Ski Museum Eastern Slope Branch in North Conway, NH, through March 1, 2024. The museum is located at 2628 White Mountain Highway, North Conway, NH 03860.