From Hannah: As a kid growing up in the nineties, I loved American Girl, especially its historical characters and books. I still remember excitedly reading the adventures of Kit Kittredge and Kirsten Larson and Josefina Montoya … and really any character introduced between the company’s inception and about 2000. So when I discovered that American Girl is re-releasing its six original historical dolls — Felicity, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, Josefina, and Molly — its 35th anniversary, I suggested we do an episode (in lieu of dropping $150 on each doll).
There’s a lot of nostalgia attached to American Girl, and the company has certainly made changes since I was a kid. And there’s more to American Girl than its line of historical dolls and their books and accessories, but I remember the books most fondly. I learned about the Great Depression in Kit’s books; Kirsten’s stories were the first text I remember reading about immigration from the point of view of an immigrant; Josefina’s stories were among those that introduced me to Mexican history. Reading about everything from the American Revolution to World War II helped me see history through the every day life of young girls.
Of course, there are definitely critiques that have been leveled at American Girl over the years. For instance, I suspect I’ll never own the dolls I coveted as a child because, well, $150 is a lot of for one doll (some of the other dolls are cheaper). So I don’t want this episode to be uncritical of American Girl, even if I have fond feelings toward the brand.
We have a lot to talk about here: the characters and the stories, historical fashion, the contemporary-focused books and dolls, the brand itself … So we want to hear from you. Did you own any American Girl products as a kid? Do you still have them? What do you think of the company’s legacy?