By Jayne Harasty

Contributing Writer

The Founders’ Day program at the January meeting of Solvang Chapter TX of the P.E.O. sisterhood vividly illustrated the lives of the seven sisters who envisioned a “society of their own.”

Hilde Weintraub of Lompoc presented the seven dolls that she designed and created to bring to life the seven young college students who wrote a constitution and oath of loyalty to the new “Philanthropic Education Organization.”

The tune of “Did You Ever See A Dream Walking” came to mind when seeing the seven dolls, exquisitely dressed in hats and gowns of the 19th century to portray the young women who started the P.E.O. Sisterhood in 1869.

Hilde researched the young lives of each of these girls who were attending Iowa Wesleyan College to discover their family backgrounds, their talents, their personalities and their physical features.

Each doll began with a bisque head that was slightly reformed, sanded, painted, and fired many times to form the right expression, the right eyes and eyelashes, the right smile for the specific doll.

A cotton padded body was formed to portray each girl’s body build. The arms and legs contained articulated armature so that each doll could be posed.  The costumes for each doll reflected the style and accessories each girl might have chosen.  Hilde used velvet, taffeta and an abundance of lace and pearls.

The undergarments and petticoats were just as detailed as the outer costume. The lace blouses and trims were made from curtains donated from family in Germany.  The pearl trim was a gift from a P.E.O. sister’s pearl necklace.

As Hilde and her friend Laurie Lane spoke, the life and personalities unfolded to reveal the strong, intelligent women who founded the P.E.O. sisterhood.

P.E.O today is an international sisterhood that promotes lasting friendships and sustains six educational philanthropies:

  • Project for Continuing Education, available for women whose education had been interrupted and now find it necessary to return to school to support themselves and family
  • The International Peace Scholarship for young women from other countries
  • The Star Scholarship for graduating high school women who have shown leadership abilities
  • The Educational Loan Fund
  • The P.E.O. Scholar Awards for women pursuing a doctoral degree
  • Cottey College, which is a liberal arts college for women that is owned and supported by the P.E.O. Sisterhood.

Hilde Weintraub‘s magnificent dolls have been featured in the P.E.O. magazine, The Record and have been displayed at several state P.E.O. conventions and international conventions.  Her dolls promote the vision and contribute to the awareness of the various P.E.O. philanthropy projects.

For information on P.E.O. loans and scholarships, contact Sandy Gregersen at 805-886-3064 or go to