The Origins of Raggedy Ann

The time is about 1917. Smallpox rears its ugly face and mass inoculation follows on its heels. It is customary, at this time, to inoculate all children in schools against the dreaded disease. Obtaining consent from the parents before inoculating the child is not customary. Children are routinely inoculated, at school, several times for the same disease without parents giving consent or being advised of the inoculations.

Marcella Gruelle is the young daughter of Johnny Gruelle; a successful writer and illustrator employed by a magazine entitled Physical Culture. Marcella has been inoculated at school. She loses her appetite, becomes feverish and fatigued. Her parents do not consent to more inoculations, yet more are given. Marcella’s health continues to decline. She loses her muscle control, becoming listless and lifeless like a rag doll.

Marcella dies a slow and painful death. Seven leading physicians are called upon to opine about the cause of her death. Six consented it is the result of vaccine induced poisoning and call it malpractice. The seventh, being the head of the school board and an supporter of vaccination, declines to comment.

Soon after his daughter’s death, Johnny is asked to create an illustration to accompany an article, "Vaccines Killed My Two Sisters." The cartoon is a clever and effective work, reflective of Johnny’s style which is familiar to the readers of the magazine. However, they are not prepared for the note which Mr. Gruelle encloses with his single drawing. It reads:

"Having recently lost our only daughter through Vaccination (in public school, without our consent) you may realize how terribly HUMOROUS the subject of vaccination appears to Mrs. Gruelle and myself. Of the seven physicians called in on the case, six pronounced it in emphatic terms MALPRACTICE. The seventh did not commit himself, being the head of the school board and a firm advocate of vaccination."

Shortly after Marcella’s death, Johnny creates a doll much different than the more popular, rigid, clay dolls of the time. Rather than create a doll that stands up straight with a healthy and happy glow, in a fitting tribute to his only daughter, he designs a doll to represent her limp and dying body.

In 1920, midwest department store giant, Marshal Field, markets Raggedy Ann. Though most people have no knowledge of the tragic inspiration behind this beloved child’s toy, Raggedy Ann symbolizes a near century of childhood vaccine injuries and deaths.

As we cuddle our sweet dollies at bed time, we do not know that we are preparing ourselves for a time when we may hold our own, lifeless, listless, vaccine-injured child in our arms.

Help yourself to the apple pie.

Maureen from NJ

This one is true folks. Learn more about the fight for vaccination choice in New Jersey at

You may also like...

24 Responses

  1. Meme says:

    Destiny!!! WHY!!??? Why did u make me read this! :(

  2. Abby says:

    Aww..This is so sad!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow. I didn’t know this.

  4. Глупый says:

    this brings me back to the first time I was committed to an institution. I was 13 years old and I had slit my wrists due to a schizo outburst. I was taken to Bridgeway Mental Hospital the night after and resided there for about a fortnight (2 weeks) well at one point, I Q13’d (had another mental episode) and had to be restrained and put in a safe environment until I could calm down. I was put into what is known as the “bubble room”, a stereotypical padded room like those used for solitary confinement in prison movies. I noticed in the corner there was some pillows and on one of them was a raggedy ann doll. I simply ignored it, thinking it was for the entertainment and relaxation of the non-restrained patients. however, I didn’t get the same satisfaction as them. it just sat there, staring at me with its unmoving fabricated eyes for what felt like an eternity. finally, some 3 hours later, someone came in the room to get me, and they said they just saw me sitting there, a wide-eyed expression glued to my face. I felt like that doll was slowly eating away at my soul and my already unstable sanity. I was let out 2 weeks later, and I soon began having nightmares about that doll, and it’s dead, soul-sucking gaze haunting me every night. the dreams have stopped occurring for the most part, but it left me with an irrational phobia of raggedy ann dolls. now after reading this story, I feel my fear may actually have some credibility to it, because just being in the vicinity of one will cause me to faint. if anyone on here has this same fear or one similar, please let me know because it feels like no one else does, and it makes me feel very alone. thanks!

    • Anonymous says:

      Woah dude.

    • sade rowland says:

      wow thats shocking

    • Faith Hatake says:

      omg… those dolls make me so uneasy, scared, and creeped out. i hate being around them

    • Annabelle says:

      Well, I don’t have any fear of Raggedy Ann or Andy myself, but I have met a lot of people who do, so don’t worry. You aren’t alone. And even I can see how she can be creepy, at times. But the right thing to do to get past that is most likely to either snuggle her or read one of the stories that Gruelle wrote about her and try to put away any scary thoughts. I feel for you because I had a pretty bad scare the other morning with my own Raggedy Ann doll and I had to get over it by cuddling her and reminding myself about all the adorable literature that was written with her as the main character, as well as the highlights of the Raggedy Ann and Andy cartoons. After a while, all fear soon drained from me and I felt a lot better. But if you get so scared that you faint when you see a Raggedy Ann, it might be kinda hard to try what I advised… Do you think watching cartoons would make you faint? Because most of the Raggedy Ann and Andy cartoons are really cute and the characters appear far from soulless and creepy when animation on screen in bright color, with shines in their eyes.

    • Lydia says:

      Wow! I am so sry to hear that. I’ve never heard of that happening before but I definely believe you. Did you ever have to readmitted for the phobia w/the doll? I was diagnosed w/bipolar disorder after my husband was murdered. An I hated being admitted to the psych ward. I tried suicide at least 6 times. But, I’m much better now. I’ve been on my meds & finally found the ones that work for me. An I’m in a much better place in my life now.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Gruelle created Raggedy Ann for his daughter, Marcella, when she brought him an old hand-made rag doll and he drew a face on it. From his bookshelf, he pulled a book of poems by James Whitcomb Riley, and combined the names of two poems, “The Raggedy Man” and “Little Orphant Annie.” He said, “Why don’t we call her Raggedy Ann?”[1]

    Marcella died at age 13 after being vaccinated at school for smallpox without her parents’ consent. Authorities blamed a heart defect, but her parents blamed the vaccination. Gruelle became an opponent of vaccination, and the Raggedy Ann doll was used as a symbol by the anti-vaccination movement.[2] FROM WIKIPEDIA

    • Annabelle says:

      I find that there is a lot of debate on this topic. There’s even debates still about where the Gruelles actually lived… How can this country love Raggedy Ann and Andy so much and not seem to know anything for sure about their creator and his family?

  6. who wants to know my name? says:

    aww so sad and this one is REAL

  7. LonelyInsanity says:

    …*rolls into the emotions corner and whimpers* nyeeeh…. ;-;

  8. Jim MacQ says:

    Not true.

    Gruelle filed for a patent on Raggedy Ann and received it in September 7, 1915. Marcella died in November 1915. These are matters of public record. It took me about 5 minutes to find both the patent and Marcella’s death date.

  9. Deanna says:

    limp cloth dolls have been around hundreds of years. He did not come up with a flexible doll. It was already in existence. Vaccinations do far more good than harm. Sounds like she was overvaccinated. Sounds like doctors didn’t know their science when they were distributing it. But does not sound like vaccinations should be done away with.

  10. Sally says:

    This is not totally true, Mr. Gruelle gave his daughter a faceless rag doll from his attic. She enjoyed it so much he thought other children would like it too. He wrote stories about the Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. His daughter died at age of 13 from diphtheria and she was given shots at school without parental permission but the doll was not created because of his daughter’s death. It was copyrighted September 7, 1915.He wrote a tribute to his daughter in 1929. He only wanted to see the rag doll because it reminded him of his only daughter.

  11. Dustin says:

    Deanna, You need to do some research. Vaccinations do not do more good than harm. In fact there is no real solid evidence that any vaccine is effective and stand up to their claims. People try to claim that around the time of the introduction of vaccines there was a decline in the cases of illnesses, but what you have to pay attention to is the fact that the decline begins before the vaccines were started. Real decline began with the realization that there are bacteria and viruses that cause illness. Therefore, doctors started washing their hands and cleanliness was promoted. Read the fine print on vaccines, many of them actually state there is no proof that they are effective in preventing the illnesses in which they are intended to. There are 10’s of thousands of reported cases of “adverse” reactions to vaccinations. Remember, we are the long term study of vaccines. When people outside of the big pharma companies comes forward with valid research saying that the vaccines and medications are safe then we will be at a point at which I may be able to agree with you, but as long as the “valid” studies are coming from the companies that profit from the drugs no one should trust them.

  12. “There has never been a single vaccine in this country that has ever been submitted to a controlled scientific study. They never took a group of 100 people who were candidates for a vaccine, gave 50 of them a vaccine and left the other 50 alone, and measured the outcome. And since that has never been done, that means if you want to be kind, you will call vaccines an unproven remedy. If you want to be accurate, you’ll call the people who give vaccines quacks.”

    Quote by Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D. who taught Dr. Eisenstein

    Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, MD, JD, MPH, is a graduate of the University of Illinois Medical School, the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Public Health, and the John Marshall Law School. Since 1973 he has been in private medical practice and is currently the Medical Director of Homefirst® Health Services.

  13. tracy grammer says:

    this is not entirely true. readers, do yourselves a favor and look elsewhere for the facts. the origin of raggedy ann has been spun here to suit the circumstance. it is true the artist’s daughter is believed to have died from complications following smallpox vaccination, but according to most of the articles i’ve read, the doll was created before she was ill, even.

  14. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    If you look up the patent, Gruelle’s patent application on the doll was officially recieved in May of 1915 and it was granted in September of 1915.

    His daughter died in November 1915.

    That does n ot support your version of events.

  15. An Awesome Girl Named Shelby says:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *