Molly McIntire, one of the dolls in this series
American Girl is a line of dolls and ac-
cessories based on pre-teen girl characters
from various periods of American history.
Pleasant Rowland began selling them by mail
order in 1986. Fourteen million American
Girl dolls have been sold, as have 123 million
In 1998, Pleasant Company became a sub-
sidiary of Mattel, Inc.
The company’s flagship line is a collection
of historical 18-inch dolls that come with
books and accessories. The dolls, represent-
ing 9-10 year old girls, live through important
times in American history and provide a
child’s perspective of significant events in
In 1983, educator, writer and entrepreneur,
Pleasant T. Rowland was looking for dolls to
give her nieces for Christmas, and found only
baby, teen and adult dolls. That shopping ex-
perience, coupled with a visit to Colonial Wil-
liamsburg, inspired her to create the Americ-
an Girl line of historical dolls and books.
In 1986 the first Pleasant Company cata-
logs had Samantha Parkington, Kirsten Lar-
son, and Molly McIntire. These featured the
three stories of each character’s
eventual six-book series, as well as their paja-
mas, beds and trunks. The doll’s facemold
was designed by Götz, a German doll-maker.
The company added three historical charac-
ters (Felicity Merriman in 1991, Addy Walker
in 1993, and Josefina Montoya in 1997) as
well as a magazine American Girl, a line of
’American Girl of
Today’ dolls and the ’Bitty Baby’ collection
for younger girls.
In the 1990s production was moved to
Hungary for a year and then to China.
Rowland retired as president of American
Girl two years later. The layout of the cata-
logs gradually changed, shifting to a greater
emphasis on the commercial web site and the
modern doll collection (versus the historical
dolls which were at the core of Pleasant Com-
pany’s marketing efforts).
In 2000, Kit Kittredge was added to the
historical line. The company introduced a line