NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Among porcelain antique dolls, whimsical Kewpies, Barbies and even paper dolls, cloth dolls in the image of African-Americans drew special attention among more than 1,200 collectors gathered in New Orleans.

The collectors were attending the annual convention of the United Federation of Doll Clubs.

Exhibit curator Joyce Stamps of Framingham, Mass., says the oldest of the black dolls on display was sewn about 1850.

Because cloth is fragile, most surviving black cloth dolls date from 1870 or later. But textile historian Roben (ROB-in) Campbell says records indicate that hundreds were sold at bazaars before the Civil War to raise money for the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator.

Campbell says interest in early black cloth dolls has grown in the past decade.