American Girl is an American line of 18-inch dolls released in 1986 by Pleasant Company. The dolls portray nineâ" to elevenâ"yearâ"old girls of a variety of ethnicities. They are sold with accompanying books told from the viewpoint of the girls. Originally the stories focused on various periods of American history, but were expanded in 1995 to include characters and stories from contemporary life.
Provided below is a list of characters from the Historical series and the Girl of the Year line.
The BeForever characters (originally known as The American Girls Collection or colloquially Historical Characters) were initially the main focus of Pleasant Company. This product line aims to teach aspects of American history through a six book series from the perspective of a nine-year-old girl living in that time period. Although the books are written for the eight-to-thirteen-year-old target market, they endeavor to cover topics such as child labor, child abuse, poverty, racism, slavery, alcoholism, animal abuse, and war in manners appropriate for the understanding and sensibilities of the company's target market.
The first dolls in the American Girl/Historical line (Samantha, Kirsten and Molly) shared the same face mold but had different hair and eye colors. The first dolls were created with white muslin bodies, but these cloth bodies were changed in 1991 from a white muslin to a matching flesh tone. This accommodated the low necklines of Late Colonial/Revolutionary period gowns produced for the Felicity Merriman character (also introduced in 1991). Additional face molds were later developed for other dolls, and the line to date includes ten characters covering the period 1764 to 1974.
The "Best Friends" line was introduced in 2004; supplemental characters from the core book series were created in doll form and marketed as 'best friends' for some of the Historical Characters. These 'Best Friend' dolls share the collections of the main characters, but each has her own book, and additional products are marketed under their names. However, in May 2014, American Girl announced that Ruthie, along with Ivy, CÃ©cile and Marie-Grace, will be retired from their historical roster, citing business reasons as they decided "to move away from the character-friend strategy within the line".
A reboot of the Historical Characters line dubbed as BeForever was launched in August 2014, complete with redesigned outfits, a two-volume compilation of previously-released books, and a "Journey Book" for each character, with players taking the role of a present-day girl who found her way to the past and met up with one of the Historical girls. The line also coincided with the relaunch of Samantha Parkington, whose collection was previously discontinued in 2008.
Kaya is a young girl from the Nimiipuu or Nez Perce tribe living in the pre-contact Northwest. Themes in her core series focus on leadership, compassion, courage, and attachment. Chronologically, Kaya's adventures are the earliest of the historical characters. Kaya is depicted as brave and outgoing, but careless and thoughtless, and wants to be the leader of her people. Her role model is a female warrior named Swan Circling. Created in collaboration with a consultation team that included representatives from the Nez Perce tribe, Kaya is the only Native American doll made by American Girl to date. Kaya is the only doll in the series not to show teeth, per tribal custom.
Felicity Merriman, 1774
Felicity Merriman is an auburn haired, horse-loving girl living in Williamsburg, Virginia who is caught between Patriot and Loyalist family and friends at the onset of the American Revolution. Themes in her core books include loyalty and staying true to one's ideals.
Felicity is depicted as spunky, brave, and free-spirited, and is often fed up with the customs that young women are expected to observe at the time, much to her mother's disappointment. She can be a little brash, impatient and foolish sometimes, and sets her heart on things often. She is also quite outspoken, but will stand up to bullies, as she did with Jiggy Nye. Felicity also isn't afraid to tease Annabelle, Elizabeth's older sister, coming up with the name "Bananabelle". She eventually learns to be more ladylike throughout the series; however, she is still quite active.
Many items from Felicity's collection were retired in the early 2000s, but when Felicity's core books were dramatized for Felicity: An American Girl Adventure on November 29, 2005, new products were introduced in her collection. On August 27, 2010, American Girl announced on its website that the Felicity and Elizabeth collection would be archived. On March 28, 2011, Felicity, Elizabeth and their respective collections were officially archived.
Elizabeth Cole is Felicity's best friend, despite her Loyalist family leanings during the American Revolution. In spite of being quiet and shy, she is known to poke fun at her older sister Annabelle with Felicity - this stems from being teased at by Annabelle, who gave her younger sister the nickname "Bitsy". Elizabeth is also shown to be somewhat wealthier, as evidenced by having a larger home, and a larger garden.
The Elizabeth doll was introduced in August 2005 as the second Best Friend doll with a book written by author Valerie Tripp, and the character was prominently featured in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. In the original Felicity book illustrations, Elizabeth had brown hair and eyes but the character's appearance was revised to have blue eyes and blonde hair with the release of the Felicity DVD and Elizabeth doll. Later editions of the Felicity books were re-illustrated to reflect these changes and edit Elizabeth's physical description. On August 27, 2010, American Girl announced that Elizabeth and her collection would be archived with Felicity, which took place in March 2011.
Caroline Abbott, 1812
Caroline Abbott is the newest historical character from Sackets Harbor, New York. The only daughter of a shipbuilder who owned a shipyard near Lake Ontario, Caroline enjoys outdoor activities, like sailing and ice-skating, and dreams of one day having her own ship like her father. One day, when her father is captured, Caroline embarks on a journey to save him and unite her family. Themes include bravery, family, and making wise decisions. American Girl has confirmed that Caroline will be retired, although it is unknown when this will take place.
Josefina Montoya, 1824
Josefina Montoya is a young Mexican girl living in New Mexico with her extended family. She and her family (including her oldest sister, Ana who is married to Tomas and has two sons; and her two other sisters, vain and headstrong Francisca and practical and sensible Clara) must adapt following the death of their mother and the introduction of their mother's sister, TÃa Dolores (who later marries Josefina's widowed father), to the family circle. Josefina dreams of becoming a healer like her grandmother and is taught in this by her aunt, Magdalena, her father's sister. Josefina has a pet goat named Sombrita. Themes include adjustment to loss, day-to-day life of the Mexican people, and the cultural and societal changes and influences that occurred once Mexico opened trade routes with the US. Josefina's family speaks Spanish and there are Spanish words and phrases in her books which are defined in the glossary.
Marie-Grace Gardner, 1853
Marie-Grace Gardner is a girl from New Orleans. Similar to Josefina, her mother died before the events of the series. She makes a friend with CÃ©cile Rey in her first days in New Orleans, although the latter was not interested at first. However, changes are in the air. Soon, Marie-Grace's singing teacher is found sick with yellow fever. Her father, who is a doctor, saves not only the teacher, but others in his aid. She also rescues a baby and forms a close bond with other children. Themes include the loss of family and caring for others in need. Both Marie-Grace and CÃ©cile were archived in summer 2014.
CÃ©cile Rey is from a bilingual rich French-African-American family that originated from France. She loves listening to her Grandfather's tales about the sea. She meets Marie-Grace during one of her singing lessons. At first, she is not fond of her because she is white, but eventually warms up to her and becomes her best friend. When Yellow Fever strikes her brother, she decides to use her gifts to help him and others. Themes include the loss of family and caring for others in need, and volunteering.
Kirsten Larson, 1854
Kirsten Larson is a Swedish immigrant who settles in the Minnesota Territory with her extended family. She faces the hardships, challenges, and adaptations necessary to adjust to life in America such as learning to speak English. More changes include making a new friend outside of her own "world" and the arrival of a new baby. Kirsten was one of the first three dolls produced by American Girl in 1986. Unlike many of the dolls, Kirsten's books have maintained their original illustrations (with the exception of the covers). On September 25, 2009, American Girl customers began receiving letters from the company announcing the pending archiving of Kirsten and her collection, which was subsequently announced on the company's website on September 28, 2009. Kirsten was officially "archived" on the American Girl website on January 1, 2010.
Addy Walker, 1864
Addy Walker was the fifth doll added to the Historical line and the company's first African-American character. Her character is a fugitive slave who escapes with her mother from a plantation in North Carolina to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the American Civil War. Addy's stories explore themes of freedom, familial love, prejudice and racism. The six book series was written by Connie Porter and originally illustrated by Melodye Rosales and Bradford Brown, but were later redrawn by Dahl Taylor. A stage adaptation of Porter's Addy book series was commissioned and produced by the Seattle Children's Theater in 2007. Addy: An American Girl Story was subsequently taken on limited national tour from January through May 2008 through Kids Entertainment, Inc.
Samantha Parkington, 1904
Samantha is an only child growing up during the Edwardian period (although American Girl designated her as Victorian). Orphaned at age five and raised by her wealthy Victorian-era grandmother, Mary Edwards, whom she called Grandmary, in fictional Mount Bedford, New York, Samantha befriends a poor servant girl named Nellie O'Malley. Eventually Samantha, Nellie and Nellie's young sisters are adopted by Samantha's uncle Gardner Edwards and aunt Cornelia. The themes of Samantha's books include women's suffrage, child labor, and classism. Red Om Productions produced Samantha: An American Girl Holiday, in cooperation with American Girl. The show premiered on WB Television Network in November 2004 and was released to DVD soon thereafter. American Girl introduced the concept of 'archiving' in October 2008 when it announced plans to cease production of Samantha and her collection (including Nellie). Samantha was then officially archived on May 31, 2009, but was later re-introduced in August 2014 as part of the BeForever reboot.
Nellie O'Malley, Samantha's best friend, is an Irish immigrant who works for Samantha's neighbors and is befriended by Samantha. She personifies the working-class immigrant experience of the time and teaches Samantha about the conditions faced by children who are part of the work force. Nellie and her sisters, Bridget and Jenny, are orphaned and later adopted by Samantha's relatives, Gardner and Cornelia Edwards. In 2004, American Girl introduced a new line of Best Friend dolls with Nellie O'Malley debuting as Samantha's Best Friend in conjunction with the Samantha DVD release. Nellie was marketed with a small collection of clothing and a book written by Valerie Tripp, Nellie's Promise, which chronicles the character's growth and adjustment to her recent adoption. As Nellie was part of Samantha's collection, she was "archived" at the same time as Samantha, and with the release of the BeForever reboot and American Girl's decision to move away from the "Best Friends" line, at present it is unlikely for Nellie to be re-released.
Rebecca Rubin, 1914
Rebecca Rubin, American Girl's tenth historical character, debuted on May 31, 2009. She is a ten-year-old Jewish girl of Russian descent whose maternal grandparents and parents immigrated to the Lower East Side of New York City. Rebecca is fascinated by both various new American customs and the then-budding film industry, and aspires to become an actress despite her family's disapproval, though she still treasures and celebrates her family's Jewish traditions. Her six book series was written by Jacqueline Dembar Greene and focuses on issues related to assimilation of immigrants while maintaining familial, religious, and cultural traditions.
Kit Kittredge, 1934
Kit Kittredge faces the hard times of the early-to-mid years of the Great Depression in Cincinnati, Ohio, as her family struggles to adjust to the realities of the economy after her father's job loss.
Kit was named after her mother and her Aunt Millie. Unlike her best friend Ruthie, Kit is a tomboy who cares less about dresses, chores and things that she considers as "flouncy", and is more inclined into baseball, especially Ernie Lombardi of the Cincinnati Reds, the great outdoors, such as country life, and typing up her own news reports. Kit hates change, and dislikes being dependent on charities, instead preferring to learn how to catch the big fish herself, which spurs her fascination with Amelia Earhart. She dreams of becoming a reporter one day. The books also depict her as being stubborn and somewhat fussy, as she finds chores around the house to be rather boring and tedious, but eventually regrets it after realizing her family's misfortunes, and learns to be more supportive and helpful.
Kit's core series of books was written by Valerie Tripp and illustrated by Walter Rane. A feature film Kit Kittredge: An American Girl was released to theaters on July 2, 2008, starring Abigail Breslin in the title role. Many new items were added to Kit's collection as product tie-ins to the movie. Two video games based on her stories were also developed and published, namely Kit Mystery Challenge for the Nintendo DS, and the point-and-click adventure game A Tree House of My Own for Microsoft Windows platforms.
Ruthie Smithens is Kit Kittredge's best friend. The only daughter of a banker, Ruthie's family is not financially affected by the Depression. Although they did at times offer help to the Kittredges, it was mostly in ways that would not hurt their pride. She is depicted to have an affinity for princesses and fairy tales, most especially Andrew Lang's Fairy Books and Grimms' Fairy Tales, in contrast to Kit's more tomboyish personality. Despite their major differences, Ruthie is a loyal and courageous friend who will go to great lengths to help Kit.
Ruthie, along with Ivy, CÃ©cile and Marie-Grace, was retired in August 2014 following the company's decision to discontinue the Best Friends line.
Molly McIntire, 1944
Molly McIntire is a young girl living in Jefferson, Illinois during the later years of World War II. Her father is stationed in England as a doctor caring for wounded soldiers, and her mother works at the Red Cross. She, her older sister, Jill, her older brother, Ricky and her younger brother, Brad, are all cared for by their housekeeper, Mrs. Gilford, and she must cope with the many changes that the war has brought. Molly also realizes that she, too, has a part of helping soldiers. Despite those changes, Molly has some leisure activities as well, such as skating, tap-dancing, movies and summer camp. Molly's series focuses on patriotism and the changes that come with wartime. Molly was one of the original three dolls offered by Pleasant Company and is the only doll to be sold with eyeglasses. In early July 2013, American Girl announced plans to archive both Molly and Emily. Both were archived on December 31, 2013.
Emily Bennett is a British girl who is sent to America by her family to protect her from the intensity of the English battlefront during World War II. Originally a minor character temporarily residing with the McIntires in the book Happy Birthday, Molly!, Emily's character was expanded in a book by Valerie Tripp called "Brave Emily" for her debut as the third doll in the "Best Friends" collection on September 5, 2006. Emily's debut coincided with the premiere of the Molly made-for-TV movie. Since Emily is a minor character and not Molly's best friend, (she has two best friends, Linda and Susan), she was marketed instead as "Molly's English friend." As Emily is a part of Molly's collection, she was archived along with Molly.
Julie Albright, 1974
Julie Albright is a young girl growing up in San Francisco, California in 1974-75. Her six book series, written by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Robert Hunt, focuses on various changes and societal upheavals in American society during that time period: divorce, feminism, gender equality in school sports, environmentalism, and the disability rights movement. The America's Bicentennial celebration is also emphasized later in the series. Julie was released September 10, 2007 and is the first character portrayed from a divorced family by American Girl. In 2008, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas reported that she was outlining a movie proposal entitled "Julie: An American Girl Musical." In December 2009, Julie: An American Girl Musical was officially announced as a planned theatrical release.
Ivy Ling, Julie's "best friend," is a Chinese American girl living in San Francisco. Good Luck, Ivy by Lisa Yee focuses on Ivy's conflict with her love of gymnastics and family traditions and responsibilities, and its "Looking Back" section discusses Chinese-American history. The Ivy doll debuted with Julie and was the first "Best Friend" doll to be released at the same time as the main character. Ivy was and still is the only Asian American Historical character.
Girl of the Year dolls
Starting in 2001, American Girl began producing a Girl of the Year doll that was exclusive to that year. Lindsey was on sale from 2001-mid-2002 but a 2002 doll was not produced due to lack of sales. Then Kailey was on sale from 2003-mid-2004. After that they were exclusively produced and on sale only during the year of their origination. The Girl of the Year is available until December 31 or until supplies last which could happen at any time of the year. Lindsey Bergman and Kailey Hopkins were Girl of the Year 2 years, the rest, starting from 2005 by Marisol Luna, have 1 year each.
2001: Lindsey Bergman
Described as a girl "who is eager to help", Lindsey's self-titled book details the difficulties her impulsive attempts at helping with causes. The character is Jewish and the book references her brother's Bar Mitzvah experience and party plans. A small collection consisting of a scooter set and laptop accompanied her release. She is the first girl of the year released in 2001 and retired in 2002, and replaced by Kailey Hopkins.
2003: Kailey Hopkins
Kailey Hopkins lives near tide pools in California and is an avid swimmer and surfer. When development threatens to destroy the tide pools she loves and surfs in, she and her best friend engineer a protest to make a difference. Kailey's collection included various beach outfits and accessories.She was the second girl of the year, released in 2003, retired in 2004, and replaced by Marisol Luna.
2005: Marisol Luna
Marisol Luna is a Latina girl who aspires to be a dancer. She moves from Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood to a suburb that does not have a dance studio where she can practice her favorite ballet folklorico dances. Introduced on New Year's Day 2005, Marisol had an extensive collection of dance outfits and accessories.
2006: Jess McConnell
Jess McConnell accompanies her archaeologist parents on a several months-long expedition to Belize, where she learns new lessons about responsibility and preservation of history along learning new things about herself. To illustrate her mixed Japanese-American and Irish-Scottish heritage, the Jess doll debuted with a new face mold.
2007: Nicki Fleming
Nicki Fleming is an animal lover living on her family's Colorado ranch who volunteers to train a service dog named Sprocket when her mother cannot fulfill this responsibility due to a pregnancy. Nicki also faces friendship difficulties which test her loyalties. Nicki was the first Girl of the Year to have two books: "Nicki" and "Thanks to Nicki," both by Ann Howard Creel.
2008: Mia St. Clair
Mia was previewed on the November 21, 2007 episode of Oprah. The doll was subsequently released on January 1, 2008 with an extensive collection and two books: Mia and Bravo Mia, both written by Laurence Yep. Mia's stories chronicle her passion for competitive figure skating, which is at odds with her hockey-playing family. Mia is featured in a computer game ("Mia Goes For Great!").
The Mia doll has light skin, hazel eyes and light red hair. She comes in a light grey skirt, a magenta long sleeved sweater with a snowflake printed on the right side, and blue high-top sneakers.
Her face mold is the Classic mold.
2009: Chrissa Maxwell
Chrissa Marie Maxwell and her collection were released on January 1, 2009 and an accompanying direct-to-DVD film entitled Chrissa Stands Strong based on her story premiered January 5 and became available for purchase the next day. Chrissa's books and DVD focus on peer bullying issues. Chrissa is portrayed by actress Sammi Hanratty. Both books are written by Mary Casanova. In a break with tradition for this product line, Chrissa's collection included two additional "best friend" dolls: Gwen Thompson and Sonali Matthews, neither of which had a separate collection. The character of Sonali debuted a new face mold to represent her Indian heritage.
The Chrissa doll has light skin, blue eyes and dark brown/near black hair. She comes in a pink wrap-around long sleeved dress with a floral print.
Her face mold is the Josefina Montoya mold. Gwen Thompson was a poor child who was disappointed in her friend Chrissa when she thought Chrissa had told her secret to the bullies. Sonali was at first one of the bullies but then learned to stand up for the better good.
2010: Lanie Holland
Lanie was released on January 2010 along with her collection. Lanie is a ten-year-old girl living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, depicted as having an affinity for science and biology and considers herself a scientist.
The Lanie doll has light skin, hazel eyes, and curly blonde hair with side bangs. She comes in a blue and green striped polo dress.
Her face mold is the Classic mold.
2011: Kanani Akina
Kanani is the ninth Girl of the Year character; she and her collection were released in 2011. Kanani is the second multiracial character, following Jess McConnell. Her father is of Japanese and Hawaiian descent, and her mother is French and German. Hailing from Kaua'i, she helps her family run a shaved ice shop and is passionate about helping people by sharing the Aloha spirit and protecting Hawaiian wildlife.
The Kanani doll has medium skin, hazel eyes, and long thigh-length light brown hair. She comes with a kukui nut necklace, a pink flower in her hair, and a light-blue floral print dress.
Her face mold is the Jess McConnell mold.
2012: McKenna Brooks
McKenna and her collection debuted in January 2012, revolving around a gymnastics theme. She is a ten-year-old girl from Seattle, Washington who is a budding gymnast but suffers from problems with school work. McKenna is the oldest of three children, with younger twin sisters named Maisey and Mara Brooks. She is described as strong-willed and determined, and is determined to be an Olympic gold medalist for Gymnastics.
A television film entitled An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars was released in July 3, 2012. The film is also the second in the series to feature a Girl of the Year character. McKenna is portrayed by actress Jade Pettyjohn.
The McKenna doll has light skin, blue eyes, and long caramel colored hair. She comes in a teal and gray lap-length dress with flutter sleeves and with a ponytail at the top of her head.
Her face mold is the Josephina Montoya face mold.
2013: Saige Copeland
Saige Copeland is the eleventh Girl of the Year released by American Girl in 2013. A resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, she has a passion for visual arts (most especially painting), and is very skilled in horseback riding.
When Saige comes back to school, she learns that there would not be a new art class. Saige gets upset and tries to keep it up and earn a new class for the school.
A film based on her stories, Saige Paints the Sky, was released on July 2, 2013 as a made-for-television film. It aired on NBC on July 13, 2013. Saige was portrayed by actress Sidney Fullmer. An iOS app entitled Paint Ponies was also released to coincide with the doll's debut.
The Saige doll has light skin, freckles across the bridge of her nose, blue eyes and loose auburn hair that comes in a braid. She comes in an indigo dress with a knitted/sewn geometric print belt and tan boots with belting.
Her face mold is the Classic mold.
2014: Isabelle Palmer
Isabelle Palmer is the twelfth Girl of the Year released in 2014, making her debut on an episode of Good Morning America. Isabelle is an inspired dancer who lives in Washington D.C. She is excited to attend Anna Hart School of the Arts where her older sister, Jade, has been studying ballet. Her hobbies include dancing and fashion design. She designs leotards and other clothing.
She is the first Girl of the Year to have three books, Isabelle, Designs by Isabelle, and To the Stars, Isabelle, all written by Laurence Yep. A mobile app for iOS platforms entitled Isabelle's Dance Studio was also released in line with her debut. A port of the game to Android was also released in July 2014.
She also is the fourth Girl of the Year to have a movie about her. Erin Pitt portrays Isabelle in the movie Isabelle Dances Into the Spotlight.
The Isabelle doll has light skin, hazel eyes, and long blonde hair with detachable pink-tipped highlights. She comes in a pink shirt with a girl in a ballet position with sequins, grey capri pants, and sparkly gold shoes.
Her face mold is the Classic face mold.
2015: Grace Thomas
Grace Thomas is the thirteenth Girl Of The Year released in 2015. An avid baker from the fictional town of Bentwick, Massachusetts, her story centers around her dreams of being an aspiring entrepreneur, with her trip to Paris as a key plot point.
The Grace doll has light skin with freckles across the bridge of her nose, light blue eyes, and medium brown hair with side bangs. She comes with a white print T-shirt with "Paris, Je T'aime" written in cursive script, a pink skirt with a black bow, and black boots. Tying in with the Grace doll is a television film based on her stories entitled Grace Stirs Up Success starring Olivia Rodrigo as the title character, and the mobile app Grace's Sweet Shop for iOS and Android.