American Girl®, acquired by Mattel in 1998,
produces a line of Historical Characters (dolls) that date from 1764 to 1974. Currently, the line contains 13 dolls including Addy®,
an African American doll; Emily®, an English doll; Ivy®, an Asian (American) doll; Josefina®, a New Mexican doll; Kaya®, a Native American doll; Kirsten®, a Swedish
doll; and Nellie®, an Irish doll.
May, 2009: Newest Addition - Rebecca
a Russian-Jewish doll.
Will an Italian-Catholic doll be next?
addition of Rebecca Rubin® signifies that American
Girl has acknowledged religion, along with ethnicity, as important when learning about the immigrants of America.
With the Roman Catholic
Church the largest of Christian Churches, and with the Pope residing in Italy,
a Catholic Italian American Historical Character is an ideal choice for the next American Girl doll.
Involve your local Church group
or parish. Please write to American Girl (address below) to request that an Italian American Catholic Doll be added to its
Historical Characters. The setting of Tontitown (see 2008) is also ideal because it was founded by Father Pietro Bandini,
a Jesuit Priest.
In September 2008, a third letter was sent
to American Girl with a suggestion to use Tontitown, Arkansas as the historical setting for the Italian American Doll. In
1898, Father Pietro Bandini led a group of Italian immigrants to a land and climate in the Ozarks that was similar
to their homeland of Italy; he named the settlement for Italian explorer
Enrico de Tonti (known as the “Father of Arkansas”).
The first grapevines were harvested in the
fall of 1899, and celebrated with a grape festival, which is still held every year. By 1913, the town was producing Concord grapes for commercial use, and in the early 1920s, Welch’s
opened a plant close by. The grapes were used for juice until the plant was sold in 1992. Within this historic
setting, the life of an Italian American girl is reflected in the values of integrity, work
ethics, and family traditions.
In 2005, I contacted
American Girl requesting an Italian American doll be added to the Historical Collection. I received a very nice response -
in part, saying, "... this is a lengthy process ... we need a minimum of three years ..." I was hopeful that an Italian
American Girl Doll was in the works.
letter sent July, 2007 also received a nice reply, but this time instead of a time frame, I read, "Since our
plans are not definite, your suggestion is a valuable resource in helping us formulate our direction ..."
needs more people requesting an Italian American doll. In August 2007, I posted my thoughts on an Italian forum, and
received just a few responses.
conversation with a friend has prompted me to create this page and ask everyone with
daughters or granddaughters to contact Ellen L. Brothers, the President of American Girl, and request that an Italian
American historical doll be added to the collection.
To help with your letter
you can mention:
The mass migration of Italians
during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and their contributions to the building of America
– in agriculture, mining, transportation, construction, and industry.
Italians settled in California, Louisiana, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, Ohio, New York,
New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and many other states.
Today, Italian Americans are
a large ethnic group and continue to contribute to America.
The banking system, malls, Tropicana, Mr. Peanut, Chun King, Subway, Barnes & Noble, and the Radio Flyer wagon were all
created by Italians.
An Italian American historical
character should be recognized and represented with other nationalities as part of American history.
Please Note: It is best not to mention a particular
name for the doll. We want to focus on the historic contributions that Italian immigrants have made to America.
Send your letter to:
Ellen L. Brothers, President
Middleton, WI 53562
Please be courteous and brief.