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A Collector’s Guide to the American Girl Historical Dolls

Paige is a writer, doll collector, and American Girl enthusiast.

A promotional photo from American Girl displaying all of the Historical Character dolls that are currently active

A promotional photo from American Girl displaying all of the Historical Character dolls that are currently active

In 1986, the newly founded Pleasant Company’s principal focus was their 18-inch dolls. This Historical Characters doll line was created with the purpose of teaching young girls history from a female perspective.

Over the years, the Historical dolls have gone through many changes, including expansions, retirements, and rebranding. Today, the American Girl Company focuses more on its contemporary character dolls. Nonetheless, the Historical dolls remain some of the most iconic AG dolls and are highly sought after by doll collectors.

Beginning with only three dolls, as of 2021, American Girl has produced 22 unique Historical Character dolls, 11 of which are currently in retirement. Given the large number of Historical dolls and the company’s recent habit of repeatedly retiring and bringing back certain characters, I thought it would be helpful to compile a guide detailing important information about each of these dolls.

I hope this guide will be helpful to both collectors and casual fans of American Girl.

The original version of the Kaya doll, posed with the Meet Kaya book

The original version of the Kaya doll, posed with the Meet Kaya book

1. Kaya

  • Full name: Kaya’aton’my (She Who Arranges Rocks)
  • Status: Active
  • Release Date(s): 2002–present
  • Timeline: 1764–1767
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
  • Story Description: Kaya is a member of the Nimíipuu or Nez Perce tribe. Her stories detail what life was like for Native Americans post-European contact but before permanent European settlement.
  • Skin: Medium
  • Hair: Straight, textured black
  • Eyes: Dark Brown
  • Face Mold: Kaya Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Kaya is the 8th Historical Character and the first and only Native American Historical Doll. Her face mold, the Kaya Mold, differs from all the other American Girl face molds as it has a closed mouth smile. The Kaya Mold was specifically made so that the Kaya doll wouldn’t show her teeth, the reason for this being that baring one’s teeth is seen as a sign of aggression in Nimíipuu culture.
The 35th Anniversary Felicity doll in her original Meet Outfit, pictured wearing her original accessories and posed in front of a Meet Felicity book

The 35th Anniversary Felicity doll in her original Meet Outfit, pictured wearing her original accessories and posed in front of a Meet Felicity book

2. Felicity

  • Full name: Felicity Merriman
  • Status: Retired
  • Release Date(s): 1991–2011, 2017–2019
  • Timeline: 1774–1776
  • Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Story Description: Felicity’s books describe life in American during the pre-Revolutionary War period. Later books in the Felicity series detail life during the beginning years of the American Revolutionary War. Felicity often expresses frustration with the expectations and limitations for women at this time.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Red
  • Eyes: Green
  • Face Mold: Classic Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Felicity was the first new character doll released after the 3 original 1986 dolls. Before Felicity, American Girl dolls were made with white torsos. Their torsos were changed to be skin-colored so that Felicity‘s outfits could be lower cut, reflecting the popular fashions of the colonial period. She is also the first AG doll not to have bangs. The 2005 movie Felicity: An American Girl Adventure is based on her character and her stories. Moreover, Felicity was part of the 2021 35th Anniversary Collection and was the first doll from this collection to sell out.
An Elizabeth doll posed in front of the Very Funny, Elizabeth book (Elizabeth’s only solo book)

An Elizabeth doll posed in front of the Very Funny, Elizabeth book (Elizabeth’s only solo book)

3. Elizabeth

  • Full name: Elizabeth Cole
  • Status: Retired
  • Release Date(s): 2005–2011
  • Timeline: 1774–1776
  • Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Story Description: Elizabeth is the best friend of Felicity. She better fits the typical expectations of colonial women than Felicity. Also unlike Felicity, she and her family are Loyalists and are wealthier than the middle-class Merriman family.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Blonde
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Face Mold: Josefina Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Elizabeth was the second of the Best Friend Character dolls. She was released as a companion to the Felicity doll. Her character is featured in the movie Felicity: An American Girl Adventure.
A Caroline doll in her Meet Outfit

A Caroline doll in her Meet Outfit

4. Caroline

  • Full name: Caroline Abbott
  • Status: Retired
  • Release Date(s): 2012–2015
  • Timeline: 1812–1813
  • Location: Sackets Harbor, New York
  • Story Description: Caroline's story represents the War of 1812, and her original release coincided with the war’s 200th anniversary. Her father is a shipbuilder who owns a shipyard.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Curly blonde
  • Eyes: Aquamarine
  • Face Mold: Classic Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Caroline is the first and only retired character from the BeForever line. Along with Cécile and Marie-Grace, she was only active for about 3 years, the shortest of any Historical Character dolls.
The Josefina doll, dressed in her original Meet Outfit

The Josefina doll, dressed in her original Meet Outfit

5. Josefina

  • Full name: Maria Josefina Montoya Romero
  • Status: Active
  • Release Date(s): 1997–present
  • Timeline: 1824–1827
  • Location: Outside Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Story Description: Josefina’s story takes place in New Mexico before the Mexican-American War, while this area was still under Mexican rule (a few years after Mexican independence from Spain). Grief is a major theme in Josefina’s books, as the death of her mother (about a year prior to the start of Meet Josefina) greatly impacts her character development.
  • Skin: Medium
  • Hair: Straight dark brown
  • Eyes: Dark brown
  • Face Mold: Josefina Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Josefina is the sixth American Girl doll and the first and only Latina Historical Character Doll. Josefina’s family speaks Spanish fluently, so many Spanish words and phrases are integrated and defined throughout her books. She is the first doll to be made with the Josefina Mold (hence why the mold is named after her), which is the only face mold to be made with every skin tone. Josefina was one of the dolls featured in the American Girl 35th Anniversary Collection.
The Marie-Grace doll, pictured with the Meet Marie-Grace book

The Marie-Grace doll, pictured with the Meet Marie-Grace book

6. Marie-Grace

  • Full name: Marie-Grace Rousseau Gardner
  • Status: Retired
  • Release Date(s): 2011–2014
  • Timeline: 1853–1854
  • Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Story Description: Marie-Grace shares her story with Cécile, her best friend. Like Josefina, her mother died prior to Meet Marie-Grace, the first book in her series. She has moved around a lot and is new to the New Orleans area. Her father is a doctor who treats patients during an outbreak of yellow fever at one point in her book series.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Light brown
  • Eyes: Light blue
  • Face Mold: Marie-Grace Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Marie-Grace and Cécile are the first and only Historical Character dolls to share a collection and book series. She is the first and only doll to be made with the Marie-Grace Face Mold. Along with Caroline, Marie-Grace and Cécile had the shortest availability of any of the Historical dolls, only being active for 3 years before they were retired.
A Cécile Doll, posed with her accessories, packaging, and Meet Cécile book

A Cécile Doll, posed with her accessories, packaging, and Meet Cécile book

7. Cécile

  • Full name: Cécile Amélie Rey
  • Status: Retired
  • Release Date(s): 2011–2014
  • Timeline: 1853–1854
  • Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Story Description: Cécile is best friends with Marie-Grace, with whom she shares a book series. She comes from a wealthy African American family and is a part of the free people of color community in New Orleans.
  • Skin: Dark
  • Hair: Curly dark brown
  • Eyes: Hazel
  • Face Mold: Sonali Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Cécile is the second African American Historical Character doll. Cécile and Marie-Grace are the first and only Historical dolls to share a collection and book series. She is also the first Historical doll to be made with the Sonali Face Mold. Along with Caroline, Cécile and Marie-Grace had the shortest availability of any of the Historical dolls, only being active for 3 years before they were retired.
A 35th Anniversary Kirsten Doll, pictured with the Meet Kirsten book in its original design

A 35th Anniversary Kirsten Doll, pictured with the Meet Kirsten book in its original design

8. Kirsten

  • Full name: Kirsten Larson
  • Status: Retired
  • Release Date(s): 1986–2010
  • Timeline: 1854–1856
  • Location: Minnesota
  • Story Description: Kirsten‘s story describes Western European immigration during the pioneer era. As a Swedish immigrant, she struggles to adapt to life in American while still preserving the traditions of her native country. She speaks fluent Swedish and struggles to learn English when she first arrives in America.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Blonde
  • Eyes: Light blue
  • Face Mold: Classic Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Along with Samantha and Molly, Kirsten is one of the 3 original Historical Character dolls from 1986. She is easily recognizable by her looped braids. She has been in retirement for over a decade, longer than any of the other non-active Historical dolls. For a limited time only, Kirsten was one of the dolls rereleased in 2021 as part of the 35th Anniversary Collection.
An Addy doll wearing her original Meet Outfit

An Addy doll wearing her original Meet Outfit

9. Addy

  • Full name: Aduke Walker
  • Status: Active
  • Release Date(s): 1993–present
  • Timeline: 1864–1866
  • Location: North Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Story Description: Addy‘s story represents the Civil War Era. Addy was born into slavery and is enslaved on a plantation in North Carolina at the start of her book series. She later becomes a fugitive slave when she escapes to Philadelphia with her mother. The Addy books deal with themes of racism, prejudice, and freedom.
  • Skin: Dark
  • Hair: Textured dark brown
  • Eyes: Brown
  • Face Mold: Addy Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Addy’s 1993 release is one of the most important moments in American Girl history as she was the first African American AG Doll, as well as the first doll to be a person of color. She was also the first of the Historical Character dolls to have pierced ears. Addy was one of the 6 dolls to be re-released as part of the 2021 35th Anniversary Collection.
A 35th Anniversary Samantha Doll, pictured with her accessories and the Meet Samantha book

A 35th Anniversary Samantha Doll, pictured with her accessories and the Meet Samantha book

10. Samantha

  • Full name: Samantha Mary Parkington
  • Status: Active
  • Release Date(s): 1986–2009, 2014–present
  • Timeline: 1904–1907
  • Location: Mount Bedford, New York; New York City, New York
  • Story Description: An orphan from a wealthy family, Samantha is raised by her old-fashioned Grandmary and forward-thinking Uncle Gard. Set during the Progressive era, the Samantha book series tackles issues such as industrialization, class differences, child labor, and the women’s suffrage movement.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Dark brown
  • Eyes: Decal brown
  • Face Mold: Classic Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Samantha is one of the 3 original American Girl dolls. In 2008, Samantha (along with Nellie) was the first Historical Character doll to ever be retired by the American Girl Company. She also became the first archived doll to be brought out of retirement in 2014. Before her return, it was unclear if retired Historical dolls would ever be re-released. Samantha: An American Girl Holiday, the first American Girl movie is based on her character and story. Moreover, Samantha was one of the dolls featured in the American Girl 35th Anniversary Collection.
A Nellie doll dressed in her Meet Outfit

A Nellie doll dressed in her Meet Outfit

11. Nellie

  • Full name: Nellie O’Malloy
  • Status: Retired
  • Release Date(s): 2004–2009
  • Timeline: 1904–1907
  • Location: Mount Bedford, New York; New York City, New York
  • Story Description: Although Nellie’s socioeconomic status is much lower than Samantha's, the two girls are best friends. Nellie and her family are looked down upon because her parents are Irish immigrants. Although she is only a child, Nellie works as a housemaid for one of Samantha’s neighbors. She is more sensible and realistic than Samantha.
  • Skin: Light with freckles
  • Hair: Strawberry blonde
  • Eyes: Dark blue
  • Face Mold: Josefina Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Nellie is a companion to the Samantha doll. She was the first Best Friend Character doll made by American Girl. The Nellie doll’s release coincided with the movie Samantha: An American Girl Holiday in which Nellie is one of the main characters. She was originally meant to be a limited edition doll but was made permanent due to her high popularity. She was also the first explicitly non-Hispanic Doll to be made with the Josefina Face Mold. Nellie was retired in 2008 along with the rest of the Samantha collection.
A Rebecca doll in her Classic Meet Outfit

A Rebecca doll in her Classic Meet Outfit

12. Rebecca

  • Full name: Rebecca Rubin
  • Status: Active
  • Release Date(s): 2009–present
  • Timeline: 1914–1916
  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Story Description: Rebecca lives in the Lower East Side of New York City. Her parents and grandparents are all Russian Jewish immigrants, though she was born in the United States. She is interested in the film industry (which was still new at this time) and aspires to be an actress. Throughout her books, Rebecca struggles to maintain the traditions of her heritage while trying to assimilate into mainstream American culture.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Honey brown
  • Eyes: Hazel
  • Face Mold: Josefina Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Rebecca is the 10th Historical Character doll. Although she is known for being the first Jewish Historical doll, she is actually the second doll created by American Girl to be Jewish (the first being Lindsey, the 2001 Girl of the Year).
Kit in her Classic Meet Outfit

Kit in her Classic Meet Outfit

13. Kit

  • Full name: Margaret Mildred Kittredge
  • Status: Active
  • Release Date(s): 2000–present
  • Timeline: 1932–1935
  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Story Description: Kit’s story describes American life during the Great Depression. She is a tomboy who wants to become a reporter someday. After Kit’s father loses his job, her mother transforms their home into a boarding house in order to financially support the family.
  • Skin: Light with freckles
  • Hair: Short blonde
  • Eyes: Dark blue
  • Face Mold: Classic Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Kit was the first Historical Character doll to have both short hair and freckles. She was also the first new Historical doll produced after Mattel acquired American Girl. The 2008 movie Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (the only American Girl movie to be released theatrically) was based on her character and story. Unlike the other American Girl movies, the filmmakers created a new plot for the Kit Kittredge movie instead of using the central storyline from the doll’s book series.
A Ruthie doll posed next to a Really Truly Ruthie book

A Ruthie doll posed next to a Really Truly Ruthie book

14. Ruthie

  • Full name: Ruth Ann Smithens
  • Status: Retired
  • Release Date(s): 2008–2014
  • Timeline: 1932–1935
  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Story Description: Ruthie is the best friend of Kit Kittredge. Unlike Kit, her father maintains his job, so her family is not financially affected by the Great Depression. Nevertheless, as an only child, she is often jealous of the excitement Kit’s boarders bring to her home. Additionally, she is more fanciful, idealistic, and feminine than Kit.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Dark brown with highlights
  • Eyes: Gray
  • Face Mold: Classic Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Ruthie is a companion to the Kit doll. She was the 5th and final of the Best Friend Character Dolls to be released.
Nanea, pictured wearing her accessories

Nanea, pictured wearing her accessories

15. Nanea

  • Full name: Alice Nanea Mitchell
  • Status: Active
  • Release Date(s): 2017–present
  • Timeline: 1941–1942
  • Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Story Description: Nanea’s books deal with the attack on Pearl Harbor (where her father works at the military base) and the events leading up to the United States’ involvement in World War II. Nanea’s mother is Hawaiian and her father is Scottish-American. She struggles to cope with the trauma of witnessing the Pearl Harbor bombings first-hand, as well as the effect this event has on her Hawaiian community.
  • Skin: Medium
  • Hair: Red-brown
  • Eyes: Dark Hazel
  • Face Mold: Nanea Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Nanea is the second Native Hawaiian American Girl doll (the first being Kanani, the 2011 Girl of the Year), though she is the first and only Historical doll to be Hawaiian. She is also the first and only doll ever to be made with the Nanea Face Mold, which is very similar to the face molds used for WellieWishers.
An original Molly Doll, wearing her Classic Meet Outfit and accessories

An original Molly Doll, wearing her Classic Meet Outfit and accessories

16. Molly

  • Full name: Molly Jean McIntire
  • Status: Retired
  • Release Date(s): 1986–2014, 2018–2019
  • Timeline: 1943–1946
  • Location: Jefferson, Illinois
  • Story Description: Molly’s story shows the experiences of Americans on the home front during World War II. Her father is a doctor and her mother works at the Red Cross. Throughout her book series, Molly struggles to adjust to ways the war has changed her life, particularly the absence of her father who left to treat wounded soldiers in England.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Brown
  • Eyes: Gray
  • Face Mold: Classic Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Molly was one of the 3 original American Girl dolls from 1986. She is also the first and only AG doll to be sold wearing eyeglasses. Her character and story are the basis for the 2006 movie Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front. Additionally, Molly was one of the 6 dolls released as part of the 2021 35th Anniversary Collection.
An Emily doll dressed in her Meet Outfit

An Emily doll dressed in her Meet Outfit

17. Emily

  • Full name: Emily Bennett
  • Status: Retired
  • Release Date(s): 2006–2014
  • Timeline: 1944
  • Location: Jefferson, Illinois
  • Story Description: Emily is a British girl who was sent to America by her parents in order to protect her from the dangers of World War II. After her aunt becomes ill, she temporarily lives with Molly McIntire’s family in the book Happy Birthday, Molly!. She has personally experienced bombings and other traumatic events and, like Molly, her father is a war doctor. Her presence helps Molly to see how the war has affected people overseas firsthand. Emily tries to fit into American culture, but she also desperately wants to return to England.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Auburn
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Face Mold: Classic Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Emily’s release coincided with the premiere of the movie Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front. Although she is a main character in the movie, she was only a minor character in the Molly book series. With the creation of her doll, Emily’s story was expanded in the book Brave Emily. Although she is technically a Best Friend Character doll, she was marketed as “Molly’s English friend” since she was not actually one of Molly’s best friends in the book series.
A Maryellen doll, pictured with the book Maryellen: The One and Only

A Maryellen doll, pictured with the book Maryellen: The One and Only

18. Maryellen

  • Full name: Maryellen Larkin
  • Status: Active
  • Release Date(s): 2015–present
  • Timeline: 1954–1956
  • Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Story Description: Maryellen’s story details what life was like for American children during the 1950s. A lingering effect of having polio when she was 7, Maryellen has a weak leg and sensitive lungs. Despite this disability, she is energetic and athletic. She is considered “tomboyish” and enjoys being friends with boys and participating in stereotypically male activities. She is also interested in geography, rocket science, and medicine.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Strawberry blonde
  • Eyes: Dark hazel
  • Face Mold: Classic Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Maryellen is the 14th Historical Character doll. The 2016 movie Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas as well as the short film Maryellen and the Brightest Star were based on her books and character.
Melody in her Meet Outfit

Melody in her Meet Outfit

19. Melody

  • Full name: Melody Elizabeth Ellison
  • Status: Active
  • Release Date(s): 2016–present
  • Timeline: 1963–1965
  • Location: Detroit, Michigan
  • Story Description: Melody’s story teaches readers about the Civil Rights Movement. She forms a greater awareness of racial prejudice after her cousins move to Alabama and is frightened by incidents like the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Moreover, like the rest of her family, Melody is a talented singer. She particularly enjoys "The Motown Sound.”
  • Skin: Dark
  • Hair: Dark brown and flipped at the ends
  • Eyes: Brown
  • Face Mold: Sonali Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Melody is the 3rd African American Historical Character doll to be released, and the 15th Historical doll overall. Her character and books are the basis for the 2016 film Melody 1963: Love Has to Win.
The original version of the Julie doll, dressed in her Classic Meet Outfit

The original version of the Julie doll, dressed in her Classic Meet Outfit

20. Julie

  • Full name: Julie Marie Albright
  • Status: Active
  • Release Date(s): 2007–present
  • Timeline: 1975–1977
  • Location: San Francisco, California
  • Story Description: Julie’s story highlights many of the social changes that took place during the 1970s including the increasing divorce rate, the rise of environmentalism and feminism, and the disability rights movement. At the start of her book series, Julie struggles to adjust to her parents’ divorce and to moving to a new school. Additionally, although she is a talented basketball player, Julie faces resistance when she tries to join her school’s all-male basketball team.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Pale blonde
  • Eyes: Brown
  • Face Mold: Josefina Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Julie is the first American Girl Character doll to have divorced parents, to have pants in her Meet Outfit, and to be released at the same time as her Best Friend Character, Ivy. The 2017 movie Ivy and Julie 1976: A Happy Balance combines the plots of the books Happy New Year, Julie! and Good Luck, Ivy. Likewise, the short film And the Tiara Goes To... is also based on Julie’s story. Strangely, Julie’s collection and book series are designated with the year 1974, even though the Julie series starts in 1975.
An Ivy doll in her Meet Outfit

An Ivy doll in her Meet Outfit

21. Ivy

  • Full name: Ivy Ling
  • Status: Retired
  • Release Date(s): 2007–2014
  • Timeline: 1975–1977
  • Location: San Francisco, California
  • Story Description: Ivy is Julie’s best friend who struggles to adjust when Julie moves to a new neighborhood and switches schools. She is a Chinese-American Girl who has a strong connection family’s cultural heritage. Ivy also enjoys participating in gymnastics, though she puts a lot of pressure on herself to perform well at tournaments.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Black
  • Eyes: Decal brown
  • Face Mold: Jess Mold (with slight modifications made to the eyes)
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Ivy was the first and only Asian Historical Character doll. Unlike the other Best Friend dolls, Ivy was released at the same time as Julie. The 2017 movie Ivy and Julie 1976: A Happy Balance combines the plots of the books Happy New Year, Julie! and Good Luck, Ivy. Moreover, Ivy also appears as a character in the short film And the Tiara Goes To....
Courtney wearing her Meet Outfit and accessories, pictured next to her first book

Courtney wearing her Meet Outfit and accessories, pictured next to her first book

22. Courtney

  • Full name: Courtney Deborah Moore
  • Status: Active
  • Release Date(s): 2020–present
  • Timeline: 1986
  • Location: Orange Valley, California
  • Story Description: Courtney is the daughter of divorced parents. Her mother got remarried when Courtney was 5. She used to get along well with Tina, her stepsister, but they have been fighting more since they began sharing a room 2 years prior to the start of the books, due to their birth of Rafi, their younger brother. Additionally, Courtney enjoys playing video games at the arcade, though she wishes there were more female game characters.
  • Skin: Light
  • Hair: Blonde with spiral curls
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Face Mold: Classic Mold
  • Other Noteworthy Information: Courtney is the first and only Historical doll to come from a blended family. Moreover, Courtney is also the first Historical Character doll to cover a time period in which the Pleasant Company exists. In her book series, she receives a Molly doll for Christmas. For this reason, her collection includes Courtney‘s Pleasant Company Doll: a mini Molly doll that comes in a Classic Pleasant Company mini doll box, complete with a Meet Molly mini book and a mini version of the first Pleasant Company catalog.

© 2021 Paige Davanzo

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