Meet my doll family! They are all so special to me in their own way. I keep my historical dolls true to their time period and in their canon character, so I don’t have long explanations about each of their personalities and hobbies like some creative collectors. Instead, this is a bit of a story about how I came to have each of my dolls and what they each mean to me.
Kirsten is my very first doll. I received her for my seventh birthday after obsessing over a catalogue for months. I remember my first catalogue was so loved and battered and so many of the pages had ripped off that almost all of Felicity’s collection was gone. I was aware that $82 (that’s how much they cost in 1997) was very expensive for a doll, and would be a very elaborate birthday present, so I humbly asked for just the mini doll for my birthday. I remember that morning my parents came downstairs right after breakfast carrying a birthday present, something unusual because normally presents were opened in the afternoon with the family and grandparents. I unwrapped a long, rectangular, plain white box (my mom had sneakily removed the burgundy tell-tale band) and felt disappointed, but tried to hide it. I thought the box looked like the same type that clothes from a department store might come in. The feeling I felt, though, when I opened the box and cried, “Kirsten!” still makes me feel a bit emotional. Kirsten became my buddy and went everywhere with me. She traveled the U.S. with my family on car trips. My mom made tons of clothes for her, including matching pink gingham birthday dresses for Kirsten and me. I wore that dress for a”Pioneer Day” field trip in the third grade when we spent the day at a one room school house. Someone took a candid picture of me in my dress, with my hair braided, eating my authentic pioneer lunch (I wouldn’t let my mom make me a sandwich, since I was sure that is not what the pioneers would have eaten–instead I insisted on meat, bread, cheese, and an egg wrapped in cloth packed in an authentic lunch tin). I made the front page of the local newspaper. In short, Kirsten connected me to history in a way I never could have been connected. Even as I grew older, I still would declare that Kirsten is the item I would save if my house was on fire. When we went to The American Girl Place in Chicago on a Girl Scout overnight trip when I was eleven or so, I agonized over which doll to bring. I drew names (and drew Abby) but in the end I knew it had to be Kirsten.
I received Molly one year later on my eighth birthday. I don’t exactly remember why I choose Molly to be my second doll, but looking back I’m sure it was because we looked similar and had similar personalities. I really loved the Molly books (and still do) and could totally relate to being tortured by a brother. My hair was brown and thin and boring and I loved to tap dance. I was a little bossy like Molly, hated group projects particularly when I felt like my ideas were better (yes, like Molly, I definitely wasn’t perfect), and absolutely loved summer camp. I know many of these are reasons why AG fans tend to dislike Molly, but I think she is spunky and sweet, and learns a lot from the mistakes she makes. She was the doll my grandma liked the most, who was very close to Molly’s age during her time period. I always loved my Molly doll, but unfortunately she sort of took on the “misunderstood middle child” roll in my doll family and never got as many clothes or as much attention as my other two. This has changed in my adult life, however, and my Molly collection is now the largest of all.
Abby was my third and final childhood doll. I received her for my ninth birthday. I picked her out as my lookalike doll, even though my hair was much more brown than it was red (she is a #5). As much as I felt a certain loyalty to the historical dolls, what little girl can resist the idea of dressing a doll in a dance costume or Girl Scout uniform just like theirs? Abby ended up being my doll with the most AG brand clothes, mostly because they just kept coming out with new things whereas all of the historical items remained the same for years. Abby was still of the era of dolls that came with a blank book, so you could write your own story, following the model of the historical collection. I never did finish the story, even though I started it. Looking back, it was a truly boring story based on my own pathetic third grade troubles involving a girl who was mean and how I made friends with a new girl. Even though it wasn’t going to make the best seller list, I still feel a little guilty for never finishing it.
Exactly 15 years, 6 months, and 5 days from the day I opened Abby, I received the most special Christmas gift I have ever received. While spending Thanksgiving with my family, a current American Girl catalogue happened to arrive at my mom’s house. She hadn’t received one in years. We speculate that they have old records of people who ordered for their daughters twenty years ago, and have started resending the catalogues to those same people assuming they might now be grandparents with a granddaughter the right age for American Girl dolls. That’s just a speculation, who really knows, but whatever the reason, it was fate. I had never stopped loving my dolls, and had brought them with me when I moved out and got married, but my active interest was more or less dormant. That catalogue lit the spark that changed everything. We excitedly poured over it (trying to understand what this new “Beforever” thing was) and that of course caused us to pull out old catalogues we’d saved over the years, some dating back to the mid-nineties. We oohed and ahhed and reminisced and I ventured to say that if I could ever have had one more doll, it would have been Emily. She came out when I was a teenager so I admired her but was too old to ask for a doll. I wanted her for a multitude of reasons: she was beautiful, I loved her book character, I loved her time period, I had Molly, we shared a name, and the whole friend doll idea had been mine anyway (I wrote to AG when I was little asking them to make friend dolls; they replied that there was no market for them, then bam! five years later along came Nellie). On Christmas morning one month later my mom handed me a package (despite my protests that I was too old for Christmas presents) and I joked that it looked just the right size and shape to be an American Girl doll. Much to my shock and amazement, it was Emily! I was ecstatic. I was like a little kid. I held her in my lap. I carried her around. Everyone joked that my mom won the contest for picking out the perfect Christmas gift. I was actually a little surprised myself at how elated I was. I mean, if someone had told me I would receive a doll for Christmas I would have known that I would feel happy and nostalgic, but I was just indescribably incandescently happy. Emily was the turning point. Out came my mom’s dolls, up came eBay, and there was no stopping us!
Next came Caroline. I spent the months after receiving Emily spending way too much on eBay working to grow my Molly and Emily collections. I learned a lot about the dolls (trying to catch up on what had happened in the ten or so years I’d been away), did a lot of research, and started getting active in the online fandom. I read all the books I had missed in those years and absolutely fell in love with Caroline’s stories, character, and the doll herself. I knew that I wanted her someday, but I definitely couldn’t picture myself getting another doll so soon. One fateful day in May I looked at the American Girl Facebook page to see that Caroline was to be archived. “Mayday, mayday!” I texted my mom. How could Caroline be retiring! She was beautiful and so new! I knew I had to have her, and it seemed that I would have to act fast. My birthday was about a month away so I decided to buy her for myself for my birthday. Up until that point, I had only ever opened a doll on a special occasion. I decided to buy her now (I was afraid they would run out since they kept saying “quantities extremely limited”, but it turns out I had nothing to worry about since it is now November and she is still in stock) and wait to open her until my birthday. I shipped her to my mom’s house so that I could resist the temptation. I almost made it. It turned out that my husband and I were leaving for vacation the day after my birthday, so I wouldn’t be able to visit my mom that weekend. We went the weekend before and I decided it was close enough. I gleefully opened her and am still head-over-heals in love. I hate choosing favorites, but if I had to choose I would definitely lean towards Caroline (with Kirsten on her own pedestal in a separate category of course). The fact that the doll is one of the most gorgeous ever made is reason enough, but I love the fashion of her era and her books I think are second only to Addy’s. Her special relationship with her father brings tears to my eyes and the action and adventure in her stories is perfect.
We were vaguely aware of the American Girl Benefit Sale from years ago, so we did some research and decided we absolutely had to go. I was conflicted, though, because I felt like I should only get one doll per year, as I did as a little girl. I knew the prices would be great and the proceeds went to charity, so I said what the heck and home came Rebecca. You can read about the whole experience at the sale here. Rebecca is a stunning doll, one of their most beautiful in my opinion, and I think her collection (more so her pre-Beforever collection) is adorable. I love my Rebecca doll, but I will admit that her stories are not my absolute favorite. I like them, but don’t feel a particular connection to her character like I did with all of my historical dolls previously. Regardless, I do think they teach a lot about her time period and culture so I like them for that reason. Rebecca is gorgeous and extremely photogenic!This is Molly’s friend from her stories, Susan (a #57)! I kept feeling that there were such great photo opportunities that would involve Linda and Susan, so I brought her home from the sale. Susan is adorable and extra fun for me because she happens to be my mini-me.I couldn’t have Susan without Linda (a #49)! She is stunning and is my first medium-skinned doll. Her hair is so much fun to play with and I love how her blue eyes pop. I debated long and hard between her or a #60, but in the end decided #49 was more unique and her medium skin helps to capitalize on her Italian heritage. I haven’t regretted my decision at all because she is gorgeous!
I thought I would be done with buying dolls for a while, but one fateful day at a flea market changed that. You can read about that experience here. Kaya is amazing. I worked very hard to restore her (which you can read about here) so I feel incredibly bonded with her. I find myself just looking at her, mesmerized by her facial expression. Kaya came out when I was twelve and on my way out of American Girl, but I think if I had been younger she would have been on my list. I have always been fascinated my Native American culture and adore her books. I feel a strong desire to visit her homeland of the pacific northwest. If I had to choose favorites, Kaya is definitely towards the top of my list.Julie was my other flea market find. My mom has Julie, so I didn’t really feel like I was interested in having her, and thought she might be a gift to my sister once she was restored. The more I worked with Julie, the more I liked her (you can read about my Julie project here) and my mom had already planned on getting a Julie for my sister for Christmas. I really did like Julie’s books when I read them, though I personally focus more on the environmentalist aspect of her personality rather than the sports-lover side, since that is just where my own interests lie. I so far do not have any of Julie’s collection, and don’t really plan to get much or any of it. I love making clothes for her, so she is a great outlet for any 1970s bouts of creativity that come to me!
Daphne came to me on a whim. She is a #26. She was on eBay dressed in Molly’s Aviator Outfit (which is expensive itself) for a very reasonable price. I knew I wanted that outfit and something about Daphne’s sweet smile and spunky hair drew me in, so I bid and won! I was starting to feel bad that Abby was a lone moddie in a collection of historicals, so now she has a best friend! Daphne is just darling and is my first Addy mold doll.Ivy is was an eBay purchase. I have always adored the Jess mold and knew I wanted a Jess mold doll at some point. Ivy was the logical choice for me because my true love is the historical dolls. I never really thought I would “bond” with my Julie, but I really became very fond of her, which made me want Ivy even more. I really had planned to try to not buy any dolls for a while, but she just really “spoke” to me, so I spent about a month watching eBay until I found just the right one. She is just so cute and her character is so important in Julie’s stories. I actually kind of wish Ivy had been the main character rather than the best friend, to be completely honest. Nevertheless, she is beautiful and refreshingly unique from the rest of the historical dolls. I am so glad to have her as part of my collection!
This girl totally has my heart. I bought Addy at the American Girl Benefit Sale this year and wow, I love her. You can read the whole story about my experience at the sale and buying Addy here, but in a nutshell, I purchased her from a the silent auction table after seeing her and knowing she was the one. Addy’s books have always been my favorite in the AG series. Her collection is beautiful, she is beautiful, and I just can’t believe it took me this long to add her to my doll family!Delaney also came from the 2016 Benefit Sale. She is a #62. She is my first Sonali mold doll and one of only three modern dolls in my collection. I’ve always wanted a Sonali mold doll, I think it might be my favorite mold, and she is just so perfect. I came very close to not buying her because my mom was also buying this doll, but I am so glad that I did. I have designated her as Daphne’s sister, they look too cute together!