From Our ReadersAmerican Girls: In Honor of 25 Years of Dolls, 250 Years of HistoryFrom Our Readers

I am an American Girl. Just like Felicity, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, and Molly, I am an American Girl.  I learned about my nation’s history and about girlhood from extremely expensive 18” plastic young women.  As a voting citizen and American adult, I would now like to thank my matriarchs and sisters, true pioneers, rebels and spunky characters of their time.

Dear Samantha (1904)
Thank you for being a beautiful, sophisticated New York woman, and my first introduction to American Girls. You were everything I wanted to be, and when my cousin threw a Samantha-themed birthday party and we went to Rumplemeyer’s Ice Cream Shoppe and rode around Central Park in horse-drawn carriages, I wore a maroon dress  and my mom’s old muff in your honor.  Props to you also for handling orphanhood with maturity and grace.

Dear Molly (1944)
Thank you for being my first and only 18’ American Girl Doll.  Thank you for your quirky glasses and beret; they made it okay for me to be me. When I went to a tea party, I ordered the white-trimmed dress you wear for parties, and I felt like a million bucks.  You also taught me a lot about patriotism during World War II, and about the importance of rations, and sending letters to those overseas. I also always loved your combination of brown hair and green eyes.

Dear Felicity (1774)
Thank you for being my sister’s doll, and since she didn’t really care for dolls, my doll too. I envied your red hair and loved to brush it before covering it with a colonial bonnet.  Thank you for representing an America I never felt a connection to, because of my family’s more recent immigration to this continent. You were a true Patriot, riding your horse and fighting for the creation of this fine Republic.

Dear Kirsten (1854)
Where to begin? Thank you for an amazing journey from Sweden to Minnesota, a story which I adapted for a performance in the backyard at my first sleepover birthday (age 7).  To emulate your blonde hair, I cut stockings and braided them into the pigtails you wore. Thank you for giving me a way to connect to my Scandinavian babysitters, and for introducing me to your Native American friend Singing Bird (tribe unknown) and for constantly speaking for her.  Thank you for later being a subject of a paper I wrote in college where I critiqued your whole narrative of the frontier.  I didn’t mean it, and I know you know that.

To each of you, I am forever grateful, yet ever skeptical of how you shaped me.

xoxo
Emily (2011)

You can read more from Emily on her Twitter.

feature image via American Girl.

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  1. i still get the catalogue, and i love it! totally gets me nostaligic.

    samantha was my first, and then i won Josephina at a Samantha Tea Party event in Coral Gables…and then I saved up and bought Molly, and got Kit for Christmas one year….and now they’re all in a big box in storage, awaiting my furture offspring to play with them!

    i am so happy to have had them as such a big part of my childhood!!

    xx

    p.s.: @jenny lynn, i went to colonial williamsburg for a Felicity event back in ’95, and it was the best weekend ever!! it’s such a sweet little town, and i had so much fun. i hope they still do those little excursions!

  2. Kristen, Molly and Samantha are my favorite!

  3. LOVE this : ) I had a Kirsten doll, I loved that she was a pioneer. If I could have, I would have had all the dolls. At least I had all the books to read!

  4. Felicity is the reason I work and live in Colonial Williamsburg today. Who would have thought that a little 8 year old girl dragging around her Samantha doll in a homemade replica of Felicity’s Christmas dress would one day make a career out of history? I made my dreams come true and it all started with these dolls.

  5. I remember being made fun of once for having a “fake” that my mom got me. I read all the books and would pore over the catalogs and make Christmas lists of everything I wanted. But we couldn’t afford them. I recently bought the Felicity and Elizabeth dolls and some of their stuff for my daughter to have in a few years.

  6. Thank you for posting this! I loved reading American Girl books growing up, and I feel the same fondness for them as you do. I had three American Girl dolls: Felicity, Molly, and Addy, and I have memories playing with all of them. I grew up in the country with very few neighbors, none of which had girls my age, and I always imagined what it would have been like if one of them had girls for me to play with. I invented games we could play with our American Girl dolls, and what kinds of parties we could have. This summer when I was helping my mother sort through old belongings I got my girls out of the cedar chest in my bedroom, cleaned them up, and they are now sitting on my childhood bed. It was like old friends returning after a very long vacation. I’ve even set up their furniture as if they are about to have a party themselves! Thanks for bringing back fond memories of my childhood!

  7. What up Addy!

  8. Remember how Kirsten almost got eaten by a damn bear? I know I do.

  9. I loved the American Revolution when I was a kid. Maybe that was all I had the attention span to learn in history as it was first… anyway, I got Felicity when I was 9 and I loved her so much! I still have her in my cedar chest in my room. Felicity taught me so much like how to stand up for what I believe in and always follow my heart.

  10. i still have samantha, molly, kirsten, felicity and addy…and almost all the books…these are all a part of my childhood that i will always remember. samantha was my first doll and i played with her so much that her hair is now straight and balding…she also has an odd tan compared to the others…haha i used to pretend to get her mixed up with my sisters’ because hers was newer…haha…the price of them at the time did seem expensive however if you look at the price of what kids are asking for today…between cell phones and ipods…$80 doesnt seem too bad for a doll that ive kept for over 20 years. well worth the investment and memories…thanks American Girls!

  11. i forgot about those catalogs till this very moment! i had the first four girls books, all garage sale buys, my mom bought me porcelain dolls because the american girl dolls were too expensive but it was never the same. and i hated girls who had the real dolls and personally thought they were bitches. I realize now, that was just jealousy on my part..

  12. I am so jealous you had a doll. I loved the books so much – my mom purchased the Samantha set because I was so annoyed that so few people had my name in my school, and I checked out the other books from the school library. I savored the catalogs since I knew we couldn’t afford the dolls, but loved seeing all the books come to “life”. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  13. I got my Kirsten doll when I was 10. In the years that followed, I ended up cutting off a lot of her hair, brushing her “teeth” and painting her nails. Since then, thanks to the doll hospital, I pretty much restored her to her original glory, with the last fix happening just a couple of years ago when I got her a new head.
    That last doll visit was timed so that she’d look all brand new for when I got my Samantha and Nellie best friends collection which I ordered just before they retired. I didn’t want my 10+ year old doll to look all grubby next to the new dolls! I ordered these two because Samantha had also been a favorite and back when I was 10, it was a hard choice between Sam and Kirsten.
    I’m really glad I have my favorite dolls! Though, I’m debating if when I have a daughter I will let her play with them or if I’ll just keep them on display since all three are now retired.
    I am just sorry that I couldn’t afford to get Felicity when she was retiring…

  14. Way too expensive but I loved pretending with the catalog and I read every Molly book I could get my hands on!

  15. I got a Samantha doll right when the company started. It was inexpensive at the time b/c it was a new thing. I think there were like three of them and they were all the exact same but with different hair. It was cool to be the first in my class to have one ( I had two eventually, Samantha and Felicity) and I cannot wait to give it to my little girl when she wants it!

  16. Oh Kirsten. The best American Girl doll, the one that shared my name, my Midwestern home and my Scandinavian immigrant history. You were awesome. When you were discontinued I cried. (it had been a bad day to be fair) I just may take you out tonight for the memory of it.

  17. I hate to correct you, but Molly has grey eyes!

    I had Molly (8th Christmas) and then my mom got me Addy (got herself Addy) when I was 12. My daughter is now into American Girls and got one of the ones you pick the eye and hair colors while I was pulling for one of the historical. At least she’s decking her girl out for history!

  18. I had Samantha – I just thought she was so beautiful and thought she had the prettiest clothes and furniture! I was in Chicago recently and stopped by American Girl Place and was so pissed to learn that they don’t sell Samantha anymore and they didn’t even have her on display! :(

  19. I had Josephina. Some of my best childhood memories were practicing the American Girl plays with my friends.

  20. I’ve always been blonde, but I’ve also always worn glasses. my first American Girl doll was molly (for the glasses) and i’ve loved WW2 as long as i can remember. Since then I’ve also received a blonde ‘look like you’ doll (black sweater, red vinyl jumper). I went to an American Girl fashion show when i was a kid. I’d read my friend’s hand-me-down AG magazines. This company was a huge part of my childhood, and probably a big reason for my love of history. I’ve still got my dolls (molly’s arm is only partially on anymore, and her hair’s a mess), and a number of molly outfits in storage (though one of my dolls is always out on a stand). love it all! even if i never have kids (or at least, daughters), i’ve got lots of cousins and two brothers, so i can always share with their kids! :)