American Girl has been around since 1986, and in those 30+ years, they have released over a hundred different dolls. The dolls are divided into different categories; Historical (currently named BeForever), Girl of the Year and Truly Me. This post will focus on the Historical Dolls.
Using different time periods throughout American history, the American Girl Collection consists of sixteen dolls. Five of those dolls were given a best friend doll, sharing their time period, for a total of twenty-one dolls. Not all are currently being sold, as many have been retired. The Historical girls have always been my favorite and reading their books as a child fueled my passion for history.
“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” -Theodore Roosevelt
Pleasant Rowland, the founder of American Girl, created Pleasant Company in 1986, and launched it with three dolls; Kirsten, Samantha and Molly. In 1991, Felicity was added to the collection. Addy was released in 1993 and then Josefina in 1997. Pleasant Rowland sold the company to Mattel in 1998. After that, a historical doll was released every few years and the best friends started making their debut. They only best friend duos to be released together were Julie and Ivy in 2007 and Marie Grace and Cécile in 2011. Marie Grace and Cécile are the only best friends that share their book series evenly (three books for each). In 2009 Samantha and her collection were archived and then others followed. In 2014, she was brought back and the historical line was renamed BeForever.
It was in 1993 that I discovered the collection and became enthralled. My mom had been reading the Kirsten books to me, but I didn’t know that there were dolls to go with the stories. A friend from school gave me a catalog, I became obsessed and never looked back. I packed that catalog everywhere. One day, I opened the mailbox and there was my very own, brand new catalog. It was beautiful! The cover was crisp and all of the pages were still intact, but most importantly, it had my name on it! I remember thinking “Pleasant Company knows my name!” My mom had secretly filled out the catalog request form that was in my old one and sent it off. It was like Christmas! I’m guessing the reason she didn’t tell me, was that she knew I’d drive everyone nuts waiting for it to arrive.
For Christmas that year (1993) I received Samantha. My dream of owning an American Girl had come true! Along with the doll, I received her Accessories Set, Summer Outfit and Boots. It was 1996 before I purchased Felicity. I had a little job helping my mom and was paid $2 a week. (It takes a long time to save up $86 at $2 a week!) Once I reached my goal, my parents paid the shipping and bought me the Accessories Set.
Today I have every historical doll, including multiple versions as many have changed over the years. I’ve created comparison posts to note the changes, visit Kirsten Through the Years, Molly Through the Years and Felicity Through the Years. I love collecting them and still read their books on occasion. I hope you enjoy my girls.
Meet the Dolls of Dandridge House (Historical)
Kaya Kaya’aton’my (Kaya for short) is a Native American living in the 1760’s. The Pacific Northwest is her homeland. Kaya is a very active girl and loves horses.
Felicity and Elizabeth Felicity Merriman lives in Colonial Williamsburg in 1774. She is a tomboy and very independent. Felicity’s family are Patriots, and she is concerned that this will be an issue with her best friend that’s a Loyalist. Elizabeth Cole moved to the colonies from England. She loves dancing and fancy things.
Caroline Caroline Abbot is a sweet girl representing the War of 1812 time period. Her father owns a shipyard near Lake Ontario. She loves sailing and dreams of being a ship captain when she grows up.
Josefina Josefina Montoya lives on a ranch in 1824. This area is still under Mexican Rule during her time period. Her mother died the previous year. Josefina is very positive and loyal. She likes herbs and wants to become a healer.
Cecile and Marie Grace Cecile Rey lives in New Orleans in the year 1852. Her family is well-to-do and she is very confident and outspoken. She wants to become a stage actress. Marie Grace Gardner is shy and feels out-of-place. Her best friend Cecile, encourages her stand up for herself. Marie Grace loves to sing and is excellent in mathematics.
Kirsten Kirsten Larson is a Swedish immigrant living in 1854. Her family lives on her Uncle Olav’s farm in a one room cabin. See Kirsten’s Cabin . Kirsten becomes friends with an Indian girl named Singing Bird. Kirsten wants to grow up to be brave like her mother.
Addy Addy Walker’s 1864 story starts with her run for freedom. She is a courageous, smart girl and never accepts things that are unfair. She is overjoyed when her family is reunited. Together they live in a boarding house ran by Mr. and Mrs. Golden. Visit Addy in Mrs. Ford’s Dress Shop and Addy’s Parlor.
Samantha and Nellie Samantha Parkington’s story is set in 1904. She is an orphan and lives with her wealthy grandmother. Nellie O’Malley is a servant girl for Samantha’s neighbors. Samantha and Nellie become best friends and eventually cousins.
Rebecca Rebecca Rubin lives in New York City in the year 1914. Her grandparents are Russian immigrants, and her Jewish culture is very important to her. Rebecca dreams of becoming a movie star.
Kit and Ruthie Kit Kittredge represents the Great Depression. Under financial struggles, her family begins to take on boarders, and Kit is moved to the attic. She is very clever and always looking for a story for her newspaper. Ruthie Smithens is Kit’s compassionate best friend. Her family isn’t struggling financially and she tries to help Kit without hurting her pride. Ruthie finds all of the boarders in the Kittredge home fascinating. For more posts about Kit and Ruthie visit Kit’s Kitchen and The Real Ruthie.
Nanea Nanea Mitchell lives in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor is attacked. She loves to help her grandparents at their market. She is the latest historical character to be released.
Molly and Emily Molly McIntire’s story is set in 1944, during World War II. Molly is always scheming a plan that usually doesn’t turn out the way she hopes. Molly misses her father as he serves in the war. Emily Bennett is a shy, English girl staying with the McIntire family. She does not show her emotions and has been deeply affected by the war.
Maryellen Maryellen Larkin is an ambitious 1950’s girl living in a large family. She is an artist and likes science. She wants to be the center of attention, even though she gets stage fright. Visit Maryellen’s 1950s Diner.
Melody Melody Ellison represents the 1960’s. She loves music and is a good singer, unfortunately she gets nervous performing. Melody loves “The Motown Sound”.
Julie and Ivy Julie Albright is a spirited girl in the 1970’s. She is the first character to have divorced parents. Julie loves basketball and is very artistic. She likes to read the Little House series. See Laura Ingalls Wilder Home here. Her best friend is Ivy Ling, who learns to appreciate her Chinese heritage. Ivy is a gymnast that wants to make her family proud.