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Italian American Doll
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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 Rubin,
 a Russian-Jewish doll. 
 
Will an Italian-Catholic doll be next?

Update

2009

The 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.

 

2008

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.

 

Prior

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.

 

My follow-up 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 ..."

 

American Girl 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.

 

A recent 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

American Girl

8400 Fairway Place

Middleton, WI 53562

 

Please be courteous and brief.

 

 
 
Copyright 2007-2014 Janice Therese Mancuso
 
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission except when published with this credit: Excerpt from Thirty-One Days of Italians, 2014 Janice Therese Mancuso.