It was 1986 when Pleasant Rowland founded her small business and named it Pleasant Company. She came up with the idea to feature a line of American girl dolls that could be purchased through mail order only. These dolls would allow modern girls to interactively relive American history as seen through the eyes of the various ethnicities that makeup the American melting pot. It was decided to standardize the dolls to 18 inches and that they would portray nine-to eleven-year old girls. Each girl came with a story – a book about her time – and clothes and accessories were sold to reflect that particular time in history.
The line of dolls proved to be immensely popular and so the line was expanded in 1995 to include characters and stories from contemporary life. In 1998, Rowland sold her company (now American Girl) to Mattel. The price was $700 million.
By 2001, American Girl Today dolls were introduced, though they were first known as Limited Edition dolls available for only one year. With the introduction of Jess McConnell in 2006, the line became known as the Girls of the Year doll line. Each doll has her own story and is from different parts of the United States with personalities and hobbies that reflect the modern girl.
Girls of the Year include:
- 2001 Lindsey Bergman is a Jewish girl from the Chicago area. She is funny and good-hearted and loves her laptop and dog.
- 2003 Kailey Hopkins is a courageous, compassionate, and athletic girl who lives in California and loves the ocean and body surfing.
- 2005 Marisol Luna is a Latina girl who is an aspiring dancer. Her family moves from Chicago, Illinois to a suburb that lacks a dance studio.
- 2006 Jess McConnell is an energetic and adventurous multiracial girl from Michigan. She likes animals, studies the guitar, and enjoys playing soccer.
- 2007 Nicki Fleming lives outside of Denver, Colorado and is an artist and skier who is considered responsible and compassionate.
- 2008 Mia St. Clair wants to be a figure skater and is from upstate New York.
- 2009 Chrissa Maxwell is a creative girl who recently moved from Iowa to Edgewater, Minnesota. She loves to swim and dive as well as knit and sew.
- 2010 Lanie Holland lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is a budding scientist who enjoys nature.
- 2011 Kanani Akina is a multiracial girl living on Kaua’I and is passionate about protecting Hawaiian wildlife.
- 2012 McKenna Brooks is a skilled gymnast from Seattle, Washington who is strong-willed and struggles with reading comprehension.
- 2013 Saige Copeland is a spirited girl from Albuquerque, New Mexico who enjoys horses, art, and hot air balloons.
- 2014 Isabelle Palmer is a ten-year-old who lives in Washington, DC and loves to dance, especially ballet and modern dance.
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