The intriguing name Shindana appeared in the U.S. baby name data for a total of three years:
- 1975: unlisted
- 1974: 6 baby girls named Shindana
- 1973: unlisted
- 1972: unlisted
- 1971: 6 baby girls named Shindana
- 1970: 5 baby girls named Shindana [debut] – all 5 in California
- 1969: unlisted
Where did it come from?
Shindana dolls, which were manufactured by Shindana Toys.
Shindana Toys was founded in 1968 as a division of Operation Bootstrap, located in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Operation Bootstrap was a job training center formed in the wake of the Watts riots (mid-August, 1965).
Black-owned and -operated, Shindana Toys was one of the first companies to make black dolls with ethnically correct features. The name of the company means “compete” in Swahili.
Though their very first doll was called Baby Nancy (introduced in 1968), many of their other dolls — such as Malaika (1969), Talking Tamu (1970), and Baby Zuri (1972) — had Swahili names. These Swahili names were “defined on the doll’s boxes or accompanying literature.” Malaika* means “angel,” Tamu means “sweet,” and Zuri means “beautiful.”
|1974||43 baby girls|
(8 in CA, 8 in NY, 6 in MI)
|36 baby girls|
(5 in NY)
|6 baby girls + 8 baby boys|
|1973||59 baby girls|
(11 in CA, 11 in NY, 6 in MI, 5 in DC)
|26 baby girls|
(5 in NY)
|10 baby girls + 5 baby boys|
|1972||72 baby girls|
(11 in CA, 5 in NY, 5 in NJ, 5 in MI, 5 in OH)
|55 baby girls|
(9 in CA, in 9 NY)
|1971||56 baby girls|
(9 in CA, 7 in IL, 6 in DC, 6 in NY, 5 in MI)
|46 baby girls|
(12 in CA, 5 in IL)
|5 baby girls [debut]|
|1970||37 baby girls|
(7 in CA)
|13 baby girls||.|
|1969||7 baby girls||7 baby girls [debut]||.|
|1968||8 baby girls [debut]||.||.|
[It’s curious to me that each of these names debuted a year before the corresponding dolls were introduced. Haven’t been able to figure that one out yet…]
Shindana Toys ended up producing over 30 black dolls (along with other types of toys and games). The company reached peak productivity in the mid-1970s, but slowed down after that, and finally ceased operations in 1983. Today, Shindana dolls are sought-after collectibles.
What are your thoughts on the baby name Shindana?
P.S. If you know of any of the other Swahili names used for Shindana dolls, please comment! I couldn’t find a definitive list online.
*”Malaika” was also a song made famous by Miriam Makeba.
- Garrett, Debbie Behan. The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls. Grantsville, MD: Hobby House Press, 2003.
- Learn, Baby, Learn: Shindana Toys | The Strong
- Baby Nancy ~ Shindana’s First Doll – Black Doll Collecting