Little girls have always found ways to practice their nurturing skills using simple dolls made from whatever materials were on hand. Homemade dollies were often crafted from rags or scraps of clothing, though children have also used wood, bone, clay and other materials to sculpt these toys throughout history. The earliest known doll dates to the 1st century; it was found in Egypt and made from scraps of rags and papyrus. While it's likely girls have played with similar dolls since ancient times, the materials used to make these toys are relatively fragile, and few specimens have survived to the modern age [source: British Museum].
Mass-production during the 20th century made store-bought dolls more accessible to children in the United States and Europe, who pushed rag dolls aside in favor of modern versions made from vinyl. The rag doll enjoyed a brief resurgence during the 1970s, when children flocked to Holly Hobbie, a soft-bodied doll inspired by the handmade dolls of the past [source: Brewer].