Pleasant Rowland is the founder and former owner of American Girl. Pleasant Rowland took a trip to Colonial Williamsburg in the mid 80's and was inspired by what she saw. She later wanted to buy dolls as a gift and saw how limited her selection was. The original line of American Girl's (Kirsten, Samantha, Molly, and Felicity) were modeled off of and produced by Gotz doll makers.
In the early 80s Pleasant Rowland drew up sketches and ideas for what inspired her in Williamsburg. Felicity was actually one of her first ideas but the Gotz team put a hold on the idea due to the cost of creating such detailed doll.
In 1986 Pleasant Company launched American Girl releasing Samantha, Molly, and Kirsten. Each doll had three books about the time period they were designed to represent. They had clothes and accessories as well to accompany the stories. The products were only available via mail order. These dolls were the only ones to have the treasured white bodies.
In 1990 Our New Baby was launched which is similar to today's Bitty Baby.
I personally remember when I was a child getting the catalog in the mail and it was basically my dream catalog. You know the toy catalog we looked at as a child to make our Christmas List for Santa? That was me. Instead I ended up getting all the books that were available at the time up until Addy. I probably had other print materials as well. I never got a doll then. I did get some type of doll but it wasn't American Girl.
In 1991 Felicity was released in the fall. Due to the low neckline of Felicity's colonial style outfits they decided to change the white body over to a matching tan color.
In 1992 the American Girl Magazine was launched
In 1993 Addy was released with three books. Clothing and accessories were also available.
In 1995 American Girl of Today line was released. Our New Baby is rereleased as Bitty Baby.
On the ten-year anniversary in May the website was launched but there was no online ordering you still had to place the orders by phone or mail.
1997 Josefina was released in the fall.
in 1998 Pleasant Rowland sells the company to Mattel for 700 Million Dollars. American Girl of Today was renamed American Girl Today.
In 1999 Mattel made the website available for ordering.
In the Fall of 2000 Kit Kittredge was released. Ms. Rowland steps down fully and the company is wholly owned by Mattel. American Girl Mini's were also launched.
In 2001 Lindsey was released as the first Girl of The Year then called American Girl Today. Felicity started to get pulled from the catalogs.
in 2002 Kaya is released with her entire collection. Felicity was completely removed from Catalogs and Lindsey was archived at the end of 2002. Girl of Many Lands were launched with the first five dolls in that line
In 2003 Kailey Hopkins the second Girl of the Year. Hopscotch Hill School a line of dolls and books is launched and the first American Girl Place retail location is opened in New York City. American Girl mini's are discontinued and the Bitty Twins were launched.
In 2004 Pleasant Company was officially renamed American Girl. The first made for TV American Girl Movie debuted on the WB (Samantha: An American Girl Holiday). With that new items were released for Samantha's collection as well as the first best friend, Samantha's best friend, Nellie is released. She was intended to be limited edition.
In 2005 Marisol was released which is the third American Girl of the Year. Felicity's movie debuted on the WB and her companion doll, best friend Elizabeth was released. Previously archived items from Felicity's collection were rereleased and she returns to catalogs. Girls of Many Lands were discontinued. American Girl Today was renamed Just Like You. From this point on the Girl of the Year would only remain for sale for the year.
In 2006 American Girl celebrated their twentieth anniversary. Jess the fourth Girl of The Year was released. Hopscotch Hill dolls were discontinued and a second retail location opened in Los Angeles. Molly's movie debuted on the Disney Channel and with that her best friend Emily was released.
in 2007. Nicki was released at the fifth Girl of the Year. Boutique and Bistro's were opened in Atlanta and Dallas. Julie and Ivy were released in the Fall of 2007.
In 2008 Mia was released as the sixth Girl of the Year. Same as in the past Kit's movie was released (this time in theaters) and Ruthie and special items were released to compliment the movie. American Girl announced Samantha and Nellie were being archived. More Boutiques would be opened in cities.
In 2009 Chrissa was released along with her friends Gwen and Sonali, Chrissa Stands Strong debuted on HBO and a DVD was later released. Rebecca was released Summer of 2009. Samantha and Nellie were officially archived. Kirsten is the next doll to be archived.
In 2010 Lanie the 8th Girl of the Year was released and Kristen was officially archived. Just Like You was reneamed My American Girl. Felicity and Elizabeth are the next dolls to be archived.
In 2011 it was the 25th anniversary and the company released Kanani as the ninth Girl of the Year. Special Limited Edition mini dolls were released along with deluxe DVD's of the movies previously released. Felicity and Elizabeth were officially archived. Marie Grace and Cecile were released. Skylar asked for her first doll in 2011. I found a Just Like You doll on Craigslist to give her for her 9th birthday.
In 2012 McKenna the 10th Girl of the Year was released. McKenna's movie is released on DVD and also airs on NBC. Caroline Abbot was also released. October of 2012 Skylar turned 10 years old and we decided to give her Felicity so I sought out a Felicity that was Pre Mattel (like I would have had as a kid.) We read the books as a family- yes even my husband and son. She became a family favorite. While searching for Felicity I would frequently check auctions. I look back and I remember and laugh at myself because I was messaging EBay sellers asking if the doll was 18 inches or not because I clearly didn't know the difference between the mini's. I ended up accidentally bidding on Felicity's Christmas Dress thinking I was getting the doll. I was lucky the seller was nice enough to let me retract that bid and I ended up finding Felicity in really nice condition locally. I started joining one of the probably handful of American Girl Fan groups or BST groups on Facebook. I also joined AGplaythings. I began to learn the ends and outs of doll collecting on my quest to find Felicity. I also learned about the most popular doll of the time the now archived Kanani. I saw how high the price was going on the secondary market for Kanani and I decided it better be in my short term plans to get McKenna before she archived. I also started asking Skylar about what she wanted to do for her birthday. I gave her two choices... 1) she could have a party or 2) she could go visit friends and family in Georgia and go to the American Girl store in Atlanta. She never could decide so my husband and I decided to throw her a surprise AG birthday party for 10 of her friends. Between two-three work schedules plus the kids school schedule it would have been difficult to plan to go to Atlanta anyways. For her 10th birthday she received Felicity. For Christmas that year I had gotten Marie- Grace off of Jill's Steals and Deals and Santa delivered a McKenna. Also for Christmas we had secretly planned a trip to the AG store for Saige's upcoming release. We gave Skylar a doll suitcase with all the info in it.
In 2013. Saige was released as the 11th Girl of the Year. We went to the Atlanta boutique for the release it was our first time at American Girl. In April 2013 I received my first American Girl doll. and it was a Samantha. By Summer of 2013 Skylar had received Kaya. My friend rehomed her childhood Molly with us and I found a few really inexpensive Just Like You dolls second hand. Then as AG was retiring dolls rapidly I wanted to buy them before they retired so I got Emily.
In 2014 Isabelle was released as the twelfth Girl of the Year. Molly and Emily were officially archived. The Best Friends Line was discontinued resulting in archiving of Marie- Grace, Cecile, Ivy, and Ruthie as well as their collections. So by the end of the year I had bought Ruthie, Ivy, and Cecile. Some Historical Characters were revamped and released with new collections as Beforever. Samantha is revamped and taking out of archival.
In 2015 the thirteenth Girl of the Year is released. Caroline's retirement is announced before the Beforever/.Historical Revamp. My American Girl is renamed Truly Me. By 2016 boutiques continue to open nationwide also into Canada and Mexico. Temporary locations were also opened. Mary Ellen is released with the Beforever line up.
In 2016 Lea the fourteenth Girl of the Year is released. Caroline is officially archived. Melody is released. on the Thirty Year anniversary.
In 2017 Gabriela Mcbride is released as the fifteenth girl of the year. The Contemporary Characters Line is launched with a line up of Tenney, Logan, and Z. Felicity is also relaunched with a new small collection.