American Girl Dolls aren’t just for American girls; their Moms like them too! Since opening its doors in 1986, the Pleasant Company has sold 20 million American Girl Dolls and their catalogue is now ranked as one of the top 25 in the USA.

Founder Pleasant Rowland worked as a teacher before becoming a writer of school text books and it was her interest in history which inspired the company’s range of dolls. Many girls have learned about other countries and cultures by collecting the souvenir dolls available in countless gift shops. Ms. Rowland realized that beautiful dolls from specific times in the past could stimulate an interest in history and help American girls understand the many nationalities, cultures and historical events which have made the United States what it is today.

American Girl Dolls

Each doll represents a girl of 9 or 10 years old and is sold with a book telling her story and the story of her time period, told from her point of view. There are also accessories and outfits for each doll; always appropriate to their period of history, all designed to help American girls identify with the dolls. Ms. Rowland sold her company to Mattel in 1998.

The first American Girl Dolls were 9-10 year old girl dolls, 18 inches high and with soft bodies, called Kirsten, Samantha and Molly, each from a different period of American history. The characters are regularly retired and replaced, ensuring that each one has the potential to become a collector’s item. Of the original three dolls, only Molly is still on sale.

American Girl Doll Collection Video

Here is a video about a young girls American Girl Dolls collection.

The Molly Doll
One of the original three models, Molly McIntire is a little girl growing up during World War II, her best friend Emily is English and her father is fighting in the war. Like all American Girl Dolls Molly has some lovely outfits to choose from and a wide range of accessories appropriate to 1940s America. There are also several books about her adventures.

The Samantha Doll
Another of the original three dolls, Samantha was retired in 2008, but remains extremely popular. Properly named Samantha Mary Parkington, she is an orphan growing up in 1904, in the household of her rich grandmother. Several books establish Samantha’s character and her clothing, appropriate to the Edwardian age, is romantic in nature.

The Kirsten Doll
Last of the original three, Kirsten was archived in 2009. Named Kirsten Larsen, she is a little girl who has made the long journey from Sweden to America in 1854. Various books track Kirsten’s progress as she moves from feeling lost and alone in her new home to discovering the huge potential of life on the frontier.

Other Dolls
In the current collection there are a few more dolls include Addy Walker from the American Civil War, Cecile and Marie-Grace growing up in Victorian New Orleans, Josefina, growing up in 1824 in New Mexico, Julie and Ivy growing up in the 1970s in San Francisco, Kaya, growing up in 1764, Kit and Ruthie from the time of the Great Depression (1934) and Rebecca from 1914.

My American Girl
For the ten years following its founding the Pleasant company released more dolls, all based on historical periods, but in 1995 the company brought out the ‘American Girl of Today’ doll which in 2010 became ‘My American Girl’. By choosing among a number of faces, skin tones, eye colors, hair colors and styles, it is possible to create a doll which is extremely individual, a ‘best friend’ for every girl. With a wide range of accessories available, My American Girl can have eye-glasses, braces, pierced ears, a wide range of pet dogs and even a wheelchair. They even made doll outfits which are made in full size. If you want to look like your doll simply choose the right doll and the right outfit and you can dress alike!

American Girl Dolls are intended for girls of age 8+, and we’re guessing there is no limit to the ‘plus’. There is also a range of baby dolls, Bitty Baby and Bitty Twins, ideal for younger children.