Yesterday, I posted some of my favorite books from my childhood. And one thing that I have not touched on is the American Girl collection. I grew up completely immersed in the world it offered – and it definitely helped shaped my adolescence. For years, I ordered the magazine. It was so awesome, and I believe that most of those are in storage somewhere. Each issue was divided up into categories which I found to be of all-important interest to me. In the middle, was an everyday real girl paper doll with assorted outfits (I LOVE PAPER DOLLS), but I was unwilling to break any of these out of the package, in fear of ruining a perfect issue. Every year, there were homemade Halloween costume ideas. I eventually used one – becoming a giant Jelly Belly bag (as shown embarrassingly above).
My love for American Girl didn’t stop there, oh no, I loved, loved, loved the dolls. Unfortunately, I never had one or any of their beautiful clothes. But, thinking back, I wasn’t a huge doll person, just a clothes person. I would rather have Barbie outfits than the actual doll itself. So shuffling through the catalog that came four times a year was an absolute pleasure. The glossy paged booklet would sit on my bed stand, and I would flip through it numerous times. The pictures of beautiful wood-carved wardrobes stocked full of outfits, next to their four-post beds … magnificent (but obscene prices!. I would pretend that I owned one of the historical dolls and would decide on which costume was best for certain occasions. I liked the catalog almost more than the magazine, and decided to send it to any and all my girlfriends (which consisted of four of my girl cousins.) Imagine their confusion, when they realized I sent them unending amounts of American Girl catalogs. Why wouldn’t you want 20 of these lying around your bedroom?
I did, however, own many of the books. I had every book for three characters: Felicity (Colonial), Addy (Civil War), and Molly (WWII). Kirsten (Swedith immigrant) was meh for me, and I loved Samantha (Victorian), but ended up just borrowing her books from the library. The other dolls were after my time, and the original ones are the ones I liked best. Not only were the stories well-thought out, but they weren’t happy-go-lucky tales for children. Each character had to deal with the issues of their time period, and not all had happy endings. There was a section in the front of each book that talked more in detail about each of the characters, and I mustn’t forget the back pages. Oh, the back pages! History at my fingertips. Pages and pages of black and white photos, information about the time period – I was in heaven.
I have recently found that Samantha, Felicity and Kirsten were archived, WTF???? And while the books will still be available, no longer will you be able to go to the store and see the beautiful furniture, wardrobes, and dolls in all their splendor and glory.
Seriously, I owe this company (and its parent company Mattel) a great deal of thanks, as I can’t say enough about their collection. Although I was never able to afford the doll and accessories, and I was never able to get Felicity’s hair did (she was the doll I wanted most) or dress her in her blue velvety ballgown – the collection of books, the magazine, and the catalog were enough for me.