KIT KITTREDGE – 1934
In 2000, Kit was added to the American Girl collection. Kit Kittredge is a spirited 10-year-old who grows up during the Great Depression. It is 1934 when Kit learns that her dad’s car dealership must close. It looks like the family will lose their house, until Kit’s mother decides to take in borders. Kit must give up her room and move into the attic, a space she creatively transforms. There, she publishes her daily newspaper and imagines how wonderful it would be to have a treehouse in the large tree just outside her window.
Growing up in the Depression forces Kit to face difficult realities, when she learns about soup kitchens, neighbors evicted from their homes and the life of hobos. Kit helps earn money for the family by doing errands for grumpy Uncle Hendrick. But, her determination, compassion and the help of best friends, Ruthie Smithens and Stirling Howard, result in a dream come true, her very own article published in the newspaper.
Like the other historical girls, Kit was a part of the 2014 BeForever makeover. After 16 years, Kit is still an important part of the historical girls, and her collection is quite large and still growing.
KAYA’ATON’MY – 1764
In 2002 Kaya joined the American Girl family of historical dolls. Though, the eighth doll to join the collection, Kaya’aton’my (she who arranges rocks) is the true “original” American Girl. She is a member of the Nez Perce tribe and her story begins in 1764. Kaya learns that acting on impulse can get a girl into a lot of trouble. One day, an enemy tribe raids the camp. Concerned for the safety of her beloved horse, Steps High, Kaya runs to find her, all the while pulling her blind sister, Speaking Rain, behind her. The result is, they are both taken captive. It requires bravery and daring for Kaya to escape with another boy who had been kidnapped years earlier. Though it breaks her heart to do so, Kaya must leave Speaking Rain behind, since her blindness would certainly result in them all being caught. Kaya does make it home after an arduous journey, but then, the search for her sister begins. Through it all, Kaya’s horse, Steps High and her dog, Tatlo, provide comfort and support. Kaya’s story is full of adventure. She experiences loss and struggles to control her impulsive nature, but in the end, she makes everyone in her tribe proud.
Kaya has had a 14-year run and is still a part of the historical girls. Her collection is arguably one of the smallest, but no less amazing than the other girls. Kaya’s Meet Outfit received an update in the 2014 BeForever release.
NELLIE O’MALLEY – 1904
In 2004, American Girl added a “friends” line to the historical girls. The first one was Nellie O’Malley, Samantha’s friend, and therefore is properly considered a part of Samantha’s collection. (For more about Samantha, see “Historical Girls – Part I.) Nellie knows all too well what it is like to be born into poverty during the Victorian Era. Her parents eke out an existence as servants and factory workers. Even so, there is never enough money for food or coal for heat. This makes it necessary for Nellie to also work as a maid or in factories to supplement her mother and father’s meager income. Nellie and Samantha meet when Nellie becomes a maid at the house next door. Samantha wants nothing more than to be Nellie’s friend right from the start.
Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse for Nellie when her parents both succumb to influenza, and she and her two sisters, Bridget and Jenny are sent to live in the aptly named orphanage, Coldrock House in New York City. Fortunately, for Nellie, Samantha also, has come to live in New York with her Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia. Samantha will not rest until she rescues Nellie and her sisters, and they come to be part of the Edwards family forever.
Nellie was retired in 2009 and like all the friends, her collection is small.
ELIZABETH COLE – 1774
One year later, in 2005, another friend, Elizabeth Cole was added to the historical American Girls. Elizabeth is friend to Felicity and joins her in her Revolutionary War-time struggles. (For more about Felicity, see “Historical Girls – Part I.) One of Elizabeth’s biggest problems, however, is one that many girls of all times face, an annoying older sister. Annabelle, loves to act superior to her younger sister and her friend, Felicity. Annabelle has no interest in the day’s political issues because all of her time is spent finding a husband that will be the envy of everyone in Williamsburg. She thinks she has found just such a person when Lord Harry Lacey of London asks her to marry him. Annabelle soon discovers that the proposal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She will have to leave her family and live in London. Worse, she will have to play the role of a subservient wife and be under the thumb of her husband’s bossy sister, Miss Priscilla Lacey. Elizabeth, however, takes this opportunity to get back at Annabelle with a series of practical jokes. The joke is on Elizabeth when she is invited to go to London with Annabelle after she is married. This is the last thing Elizabeth wants and she learns that honesty is the best policy and that sometimes jokes don’t always result in a smile.
Elizabeth is a truly beautiful doll with stunningly beautiful clothes, but was retired in 2011. She has one of the biggest collections of any of the friends and includes outfits that correspond to Felicity’s.
EMILY BENNETT – 1944
The next doll to be introduced was Emily Bennett in 2006. Emily is also a “friend” and is part of Molly’s collection. (For more about Molly, see “Historical Girls, Part I.) She is the little English girl who comes to live with Molly during WWII. I can’t begin to imagine the courage it would take for a child to travel across the ocean and live with strangers, all the while worrying whether your parents will be killed while you are away. But, that’s exactly what Emily does. At first, Emily doesn’t know how to react to precocious and noisy Americans who seem to think the war is a game. They don’t understand the words she uses and they never stop asking her questions. Unsure of how to answer, she starts agreeing to everything they say. This soon gets her into trouble, and everyone thinks she can play the flutophone when she really can’t.
Despite their differences, Molly and Emily realize they have a lot in common. They both are worried about the safety of someone they love in London, and they both love and admire Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. They get to celebrate their birthdays together, wearing matching pinafores and both get a puppy as a gift.
Emily was retired with Molly in 2013, and has a large “friends” collection that coordinates with Molly’s.
JULIE ALBRIGHT – 1974
The most modern historical girl, Julie Albright, was introduced in 2007. She has wide appeal with her long, blonde hair and “groovy” clothes, accessories and furniture. My granddaughter wanted her from her first perusal through an American Girl catalog. Julie lives in San Francisco during the 1970’s. She must make a big adjustment when her parents get a divorce and she has to move to a new neighborhood, taking her away from her best friend, Ivy. Now, she lives in an apartment with her mother. She only sees her dad on weekends and there is often conflict around that, since her older sister never wants to go.
Julie loves to play basketball more than anything, but her school’s only basketball team is for boys only! Julie won’t accept this and gets 150 signatures on a petition saying that girls should be allowed on the team. The coach is not impressed by Julie’s petition and still won’t let her play on the boys’ team. But, a new law, Title Nine, requires equal sports programs for boys and girls. Julie’s principal takes her petition to the School Board and they rule in Julie’s favor. The coach has no choice but to let Julie play on the boys’ team.
Julie never runs out of energy. In addition to playing basketball, she has time for a bicentennial wagon train journey and spearheads a movement to save bald eagles.
Nine years after her introduction, Julie is more “rad” than ever and has a substantial collection. In 2014, when American Girl introduced BeForever and redesigned all the historical girls’ Meet Outfits, Julie got many new colorful clothes.