Home for Wayward BabydollsCecil R. Ison , Bet Ison




65 Trent Ridge Road, Morehead, Kentucky, 40351, United States

Visiting Information

The HWB has no official visiting hours. To make an appointment to visit, send a message to Bet Ison via the Home For Wayward Babydolls Facebook or by emailing HomeForWaywardBabydolls@windstream.net. Daytime drop in visitors are usually welcome.

About the Artist/Site

Cecil Ray Ison grew up in a log cabin not far from the couple’s current home; Bet was born in Madison, Wisconsin and grew up in Wisconsin, Ohio, South Dakota, and Colorado. The two met while in college in Trinidad, Colorado, and married in 1974. In 1982 they returned to the family farm in the hills of Eastern Kentucky.

As the Forest Archaeologist for Daniel Boone National Forest, Cecil often found broken and abandoned baby dolls during his field surveys on the forest. As he later frequently remarked, one day he found a baby doll with a bullet hole in the middle of its forehead. “Something Had to be done!” he declared. Thus began the career of the world’s foremost (and possibly only) forensic anthropomorphologist. [A word he coined from the following roots: “Forensic” - relating to crime; “Anthropo” – humankind; “morph” -  shaped;  and “ologist” -  “studier of.”]

The babydoll collection originally resided primarily at his U.S. Forest Service office, where it was viewed with some bemusement by his colleagues and visitors. But it wasn’t his first collection: the babydolls replaced a collection of kitschy religious paraphernalia (including a bottle of holy oil, an “autographed” picture of Jesus Christ, a holographic representation of children walking over a rotting boardwalk watched over by an angel, etc.); taken together, they were unfitting, the Forest Service decided, for a government office. But the babydoll collection seemed to strike a chord. Donations of crime victims and consultation requests began to be received from others in the profession (and out of it as well.) Eventually a portion of the expanding collection was archived at his home, and upon his retirement in 2004 from the Forest Service, the entire collection was removed to the Home for Wayward Babydolls housed at the Ison family home.

Cecil Ison serves as the Lead Scientist for the HWB facility, while his wife, Bet Ison, serves as the Executive Director. Her role over the years has grown; she always did much of the photography and helped embroider the story line, but while Cecil was the main “driver,” as the work and the story enveloped the whole house and property, more and more it enveloped her as well. The HWB has several research areas: “14B” contains Barbie/Ken dolls and their look-a-likes; there is also a global warming study area and a doll body garden where decay is examined. Scientific results are rarely recorded.

The Isons’ interest and use of found objects goes beyond baby dolls. The house, yard, and property include a variety of objects and displays, including bottle cap murals and snakes, painted satellite dishes, mannequins, and decorated gourds. Much of the work was created by Cecil but other decorated objects were created by tourists, friends, and/or family members who stopped by to lend a hand in enhancing the site.

The HWB has no official visiting hours. Potential visitors may send a message to Bet Ison via the Home For Wayward Babydoll Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/HomeForWaywardBabydolls

Drop in visitors are usually welcome.

~Bet Ison


Additional information may be found at the


SPACES Archives Holdings

1 folder: Site documentation binder by Adrian Swain, 2002

Map & Site Information

65 Trent Ridge Road
Morehead, Kentucky, 40351 us
Latitude/Longitude: 38.164468 / -83.25616

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