Today, May 21st, 2015 is the 111th anniversary of the commencement of Lewis and Clark’s famous journey. Starting near St. Louis, Missouri, they set forth paddling up the Missouri River on May 21st, 1804. President Thomas Jefferson had charged them with the mission of exploring the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase and hoped they would discover a water route to the Pacific Ocean.
The Louisiana Purchase meant big things for our new country, literally. It was a catalyst for westward expansion which helped immigrant families like Kirsten’s to settle. I live right in the middle of the land that was part of the Louisiana Purchase, so I love thinking about how the change in our country’s geography changed the life of countless Americans in 1803 and forevermore. Kirsten (maybe–it’s hard to know exactly where her farm was), Marie-Grace, and Cecile are the American Girls who lived on land obtained through the Louisiana Purchase. As I started this post I was thinking that there would be a significant list, but only three? Hey AG! We need more representation from the midwest and great plains!
Maps and geography are loves of mine, so the exploration of the Louisiana Purchase made me start thinking about the map of our American Girls across the country, so I decided to make one. This also helps to illustrate my point above!
If you know your AG literature like you should, you should be able to figure out which dot is which. Some of the locations in the stories are unspecified, though, and some take place in fictional towns. Here are my notes on that:
Kaya: unspecified location in the Pacific Northwest. Borders would have been irrelevant to Kaya and her people (and they didn’t really exist in that place and time, anyway), so it is very appropriate that it is unspecified
Felicity: Williamsburg, Virginia
Caroline: Sacket’s Harbor, New York
Josefina: her family rancho near an unspecified village, near Santa Fe in present day New Mexico
Cecile and Marie-Grace: New Orleans, Louisiana
Kirsten: her family farm near Riverton, Minnesota (Minnesota was a territory, not a state, at the time)
Addy: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her series starts, however, on a plantation in North Carolina
Samantha: Mount Bedford, a fictional city somewhere in New England (presumably New York?). Her series concludes in New York City
Rebecca: New York City, New York
Kit: Cincinnati, Ohio
Molly: Jefferson, Illinois. Jefferson is a fictional town, though there is a Jefferson County in Illinois
**Maryellen Larkin: somewhere in Florida! We’ll know for sure in August (so excited!) I like to speculate, so since her book titles vaguely indicate something to do with flying (The Sky’s the Limit and Taking Off), I situated her dot near Cape Canaveral, thinking perhaps her stories will have something to do with space exploration! The time period would be close (1954 would be few years early, though) and location would be right for that theme, so we’ll see!
Julie: San Francisco, California
I personally prefer the use of real locations–it is so fun to visit the places where the stories took place. As a kid my family went to Colonial Williamsburg and I thought it was amazing that I was walking around in Felicity’s hometown. Sacket’s Harbor is on my list of places to visit now, too! I love that American Girl teaches not only about history, but about specific places in history as well. I feel an AG roadtrip coming on!