Around 14 million American Girl dolls have been sold in the world, but most of the girls who own them have absolutely no clue as to how the company started; can you believe that? So, I gathered as much info about the company as I could from friends, myself, and online and tried to explain it as well as I could. I have included a little about the woman who started the company, the first dolls, and the changes made throughout the company’s history. The result is what you see here.
Pleasant Rowland was the woman who started American Girl, originally named Pleasant Company. The reason she started the company was she was looking for dolls as a gift for someone and couldn’t find any dolls that were for girls ages eight to twelve years old. Also what inspired the idea, was a visit to Colonial Williamsburg. She thought that girls would like to learn history with dolls from the perspective of other girls nine to ten years old.
The first dolls made in the line were Historical Characters released in 1986. Samantha Parkington, a brown-haired, brown-eyed orphan with bangs, who’s story was set in Victorian times, Kirsten Larson, a blond-haired, blue-eyed Swedish girl with bangs, who’s story is set in the time period when people were moving from Europe to the New World for a better life, and Molly McIntyre, a blue-eyed, brown-haired girl on the home front with bangs and glasses, who’s story is set during World War II. They all were made with the exact same face molds. In case you didn’t know some dolls have different face molds. Try comparing Josephina’s face to Kit’s. Originally their bodies were white, which changed when Felicity (fourth doll, released in 1991) came out, because of the cut of her dress. The dolls all came in boxes, and to my knowledge, with their first book. When the original dolls were released, they each had only three books and some of their collection. The rest of their series: clothes, accessories and Samantha’s and Molly’s friends, came out later at different times.
American Girl has made several changes to their company, including changing Historical Characters to Beforever. In 1985 the company added a line of dolls called American Girl of Today. That changed to Just Like You in 2006, then changed again in 2010 to My American Girl and included a charm necklace and an online code that you could unlock the online world of Innerstar University with (Innerstar U was discontinued in 2015 when they changed the name again). Then in 2015, MyAG (My American Girl) was renamed Truly Me, which comes with a couple of fun activities, but no necklace or online code. This is American Girl’s line of dolls that allows girls to choose one that looks like them, and there are a ton of accessories that can be purchased to go with it.
In 2001 a new line of dolls were introduced – Girl of The Year. The first Girl Of The Year is Lindsey Bergman, she was the Girl Of The Year for two years, then they changed it so each Girl Of The Year is for only one year. Girl Of The Year dolls each have at least one story (now they have mostly been having three) and a bunch of outfits, accessories and furniture to go with. From 2012 each Girl Of The Year doll had a movie to go with it. In between all that, new dolls were released and some dolls were archived. I could go on and on and on about all the changes, but I don’t think I will have room! I haven’t even covered the other doll lines they had and have!
If you are (or were) one of those girls who has an American Girl doll (or several) and didn’t know how the company started, now you do! Pleasant Rowland had a wonderful idea, and I’m glad she did. What’s amazing is how these doll have stood the test of time – especially Molly, Samantha, and Kirsten, who are still much loved favorites. Samantha is was particularly popular, and was just re-released in 2015 with the arrival of the Beforever brand. This company has gone through many changes, and I didn’t even cover half of them; but it is still a beloved toy that has stood the test of time.