While teens and tweens of the mid-'80s and 1990s were deciding which pop star they identified with most, their little sisters entertained themselves with a different girl group: American Girl dolls. Each hailing from a different year, spanning 1774 to 1944, the dolls allowed kids to learn about history through the eyes of strong, spirited female characters that went beyond what Barbie was offering at the time.
In fact, Barbie partly prompted founder Pleasant Rowland to create the dolls in the first place—she didn’t think the mid-1980s doll market gave young girls a wide enough variety of role models. That void, along with an immersive trip to Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg, inspired her to start developing a line of historically accurate dolls (and corresponding books about each one) that could both educate and empower real American girls.
Using royalties from textbooks she had authored, Rowland launched the first line of American Girl dolls in 1986 and almost immediately earned back her own investment. Since then, American Girl has grown into a multi-billion-dollar business that continues to tell America’s story—past and present—with a regularly updated collection of diverse, inclusive dolls.
Now, to celebrate the American Girls’ 35th anniversary, Mattel (to which Rowland sold her company in 1998) is bringing back the six original dolls. There’s Felicity Merriman, an intrepid horse lover from colonial Williamsburg; Josefina Montoya, a kind-hearted healer growing up in New Mexico when it was still part of Mexico; Swedish immigrant Kirsten Larson, pioneering a new life with her family in 1850s Minnesota; loyal, determined Addy Walker, who endures the horrors of enslavement and flees north with her mother during the Civil War; Samantha Parkington, an imaginative orphan living with her wealthy grandmother in early 20th-century New York; and playful Molly McIntire, navigating social conflicts and societal changes during World War II.
As KIRO 7 reports, those six dolls have been retired for years now, and they often fetch thousands of dollars when sold secondhand on sites like eBay. Whether you’re hoping to pass on your love for Felicity to the next generation or just ready to relive your childhood, now’s your chance to do it. Each 18-inch doll comes in its trademark outfit and costs $150, which includes all original accessories and a paperback edition of the first book in that doll’s series. You can shop the collection here.
[h/t KIRO 7]