The American Woman model grew to become a toy shelf staple starting in 1986. The dear dolls had been the topic of many a schoolgirl fantasy and maybe the franchise’s best declare to fame. However “American Ladies” is greater than only a line of dolls (although, sure, they’re certainly a line of very costly dolls). Every woman comes with a e-book collection during which she faces her historic period’s challenges face on. Whether or not meaning escaping from slavery, counting pennies throughout the Nice Despair, or having her finest pal die of cholera in her arms relies on the woman in query. However the American Woman books by no means shied away from among the more durable points of historical past, packaging them up by the eyes of younger protagonists to make historical past approachable to younger readers.
You possibly can be an American Woman child with out ever proudly owning a doll. The books alone supplied a gateway into historic fiction, and the legacy of the historic characters reigns supreme. Naturally, schoolyard arguments would escape over which American Woman was the finest. And so naturally, there has come the time to rank them.
To make clear, this rating is simply of the official historic character line — not offshoots like Woman of the 12 months (set in modern-day) or the short-lived Ladies of Many Lands (historic, however not restricted to the US). We’re additionally considering some retried characters like Kirsten Larson, and ones that had been solely in the marketplace for 3 years.
Behold, our official American Woman rating:
16. Caroline Abbott, 1812
Petrana Radulovic: Nonetheless can’t consider we acquired a “Woman of the Warfare of 1812” earlier than an Asian-American Woman doll.
Emily Heller: If I needed to examine an outdoorsy Midwestern woman who was born in a log cabin, I’d simply learn the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.
15. Samantha Parkington, 1904
Petrana: Samantha was the primary American Woman doll for a lot of ladies. She’s protected. She’s a white brunette, so she appeals to a big demographic. She’s additionally by far the wealthiest of the American Woman characters and is fairly clueless to her personal privilege.
To her credit score, Samantha does, ultimately, understand that her servant pal Nellie is however a poor working class woman who’s compelled to work in factories. Additionally, a factor that has irritated me about Samantha since I used to be seven years outdated is that she’s billed because the “Victorian doll” regardless of very clearly dwelling within the Edwardian period. C’mon!
Emily: Maybe I’m biased as a result of my sister had Samantha whereas I had the clearly superior Molly, however Samantha simply seems like the plain — and subsequently boring — alternative of the 2 unique dolls. She’s the vanilla ice cream of American Woman dolls. There’s nothing mistaken with it however when you get a style for mint chocolate chip there’s actually no going again.
14. Julie Albright, 1974
Petrana: Julie’s downside is that the extra fascinating character to deal with in 1970s San Francisco would’ve been her finest pal Ivy, a Chinese language-American woman grappling with reconciling her Chinese language heritage and her American upbringing. Julie’s complete factor is standing up for herself when she will get bullied for being a tomboy and a baby of divorce, however making Ivy the lead of the 1970s centered collection would’ve simply added an entire lot extra nuance! The Amazon Authentic film acknowledges this, placing Ivy on the forefront… even when she’s nowhere to be seen on the official American Woman web page.
Emily: On the time that Julie was launched (2007) the most important factor she had going for her was that she was essentially the most up to date American Woman doll, representing the 1970s. Now that we’ve Courtney representing the 1980s, Julie isn’t all that fascinating.
13. Maryellen Larkin, 1954
Emily: One more blonde-ish white woman representing an period lower than a century prior to now. Boring!
Petrana: The 1950s is an oddly quiet time for the American Woman collection to deal with, however Maryellen’s massive factor is that she had polio in 1952, however doesn’t let her incapacity cease her from operating and swimming. That’s already marginally extra fascinating than Julie. Additionally I gotta give Maryellen props, as she’s a fellow Floridian. Thanks, suburban growth of the 1950s!
12. Cecile and Marie-Grace, 1853
Petrana: Cecile and Marie-Grace’s tales brim with potential. The one twin dolls launched with two units of books, Cecile and Marie-Grace grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and handled the 1853 Yellow Fever epidemic and the Antebellum South. Nonetheless, their line was lower quick for some motive, and solely ran for round three years. Alas, poor Cecile and Marie-Grace — it’s not their fault they had been round for such a short time frame! Not like the opposite woman who was launched and axed inside that quick time (my private nemesis, Caroline, the Woman of the Warfare of 1812), Cecile and Marie-Grace don’t even seem on the official American Woman web site! What provides!
Emily: A number of American Woman dolls had a Greatest Pal launched alongside them — Molly’s British pal Emily, Felicity’s wealthy pal Elizabeth, Samantha’s poor pal Nellie. However they’re inevitably relegated to sidekick roles and aren’t as standard as the primary American Woman. I really like the concept of two finest associates getting equal billing! Sadly, although, Cecile and Marie-Grace simply weren’t round lengthy sufficient to make an impression.
11. Kirsten Larson, 1854
Petrana: American Woman stayed of their lane for essentially the most half and by no means had a correct “pioneer” woman to problem the Laura Ingalls Wilder books — however Kirsten comes closest. The factor that offers her story a definite aptitude is that she’s a Swedish immigrant, so she will get the double whammy of grappling with American tradition and constructing a log cabin.
Within the first Kirsten e-book, her finest pal dies in her arms of cholera. I learn this at age six and was scared for practically a decade longer, satisfied cholera could be extra of an issue in my grownup life than it ended up being.
Emily: Actually, the one factor I bear in mind about Kirsten are her braid loops. They’re cute.
10. Rebecca Rubin, 1914
Emily: Rebecca is the primary (and thus far, solely) Jewish Historic Character, a first-generation Russian-American representing Jap European immigration to the U.S. within the early 20th Century. A number of American Woman dolls have struggled to slot in, however Rebecca’s wrestle to keep up her Jewish heritage whereas town goes all out for Christmas is especially relatable. Rebecca is the uncommon doll the place her background is extra necessary than her historic period.
Petrana: Someday after Julie and Caroline and a slew of blonde, white ladies with very superficial causes for “standing out,” an American Woman inventive should’ve been like Hmm… possibly we may… do one thing else? It’s bizarre that after strides with Josefina, Kaya, and Addy, American Woman simply churned out a bunch of blondes (like, not even a brunette or redhead for taste?), however Rebecca grew to become a step in the proper course, a solution to talk that the previous had many views.
9. Nanea Mitchell, 1941
Emily: The American Woman Historic Characters line has sometimes operated with one doll to signify one decade, with little or no overlap. Nanea proves that there are many overlapping tales to inform. The 1940s and WW2 had been coated with Molly, however as a white woman dwelling in Illinois, her perspective could be very totally different from Nanea’s as a local Hawaiian.
Petrana: Persevering with my ideas on Rebecca, Nanea is completely a daring step ahead! She and Molly come from the identical period, however her story is totally totally different. Whereas American Woman ought to transfer ahead when it comes to many years (significantly, everybody complaining about 1980s Courtney being too current must do not forget that it was 40 years in the past), the franchise ought to embrace revisiting the identical eras to inform totally different tales! Nanea, as a local Hawaiian proper across the Assault on Pearl Harbor, brings a starkly totally different perspective than Molly within the Midwest.
8. Courtney Moore, 1986
Emily: I’ve already gone on document about how a lot I really like Courtney, American Woman’s first gamer woman. When Courtney was initially introduced, some adults on Twitter had been freaked out about the truth that her story offers with the Challenger Explosion, however serving to children perceive historic traumas by the lens of a relatable character has at all times been American Woman’s complete deal!
Petrana: I don’t perceive why persons are freaking out about how Courtney sees the Challenger explode when Kirsten Larson’s finest pal died of cholera in her arms and Addy Walker actually escaped from slavery. She is one other blonde white woman, however she will get a step up over the others as a result of she is so trendy — that’s, till the 1990s woman comes out.
7. Addy Walker, 1864
Emily: American Woman’s fifth Historic Character and first non-white doll was born into slavery, a transfer with an advanced historical past that tradition author Aisha Harris defined in a 2016 Slate article. As I discussed above, American Woman tales have at all times tried to assist younger readers perceive historic tragedies, and Addy’s books makes an attempt for instance the appalling historical past of slavery in America. However witnessing the Challenger explosion and dwelling by slavery are two very various things, and there’s definitely honest criticism to be made about how the white-owned firm dealt with its Black characters. Nonetheless, as creator Connie Porter advised Harris, Addy’s legacy is one in all defiance. “She is a voice, she is a face, an embodiment of the lives of our African American ancestors. She takes readers previous no matter unfavorable connotations they might placed on the phrase slave. They see Addy being what that world didn’t need individuals to see—a baby, a human being with hopes and desires, household, historical past, and the potential to reside a full and plentiful life — if given the possibility.”
Petrana: Addy is a contentious determine, with some pointing to the uncomfortable undeniable fact that the one Black doll out there on the time was born into slavery. However the truth that she was one of many first American Woman dolls — and that her story was finally a triumphant one — shouldn’t be understated. Ought to American Woman department out to incorporate extra characters of colour with tales that aren’t centered on trauma? Completely. However Addy was a primary milestone.
6. Package Kittredge, 1934
Emily: Package has the benefit of being the one American Woman character with a theatrically launched film about her. (There are a bunch of direct-to-video and TV films, although.) Being performed by Abigail Breslin is simply going to present you an computerized increase within the rankings! Even with out the Breslin Bump™️, although, Package is one in all my favorites as a result of she’s a author. Biased? Certain, however that’s simply because I’m not nearly as good a journalist as Package.
Petrana: Samantha was my first, however Package was my favourite. I didn’t gravitate in direction of her initially, as a result of although Samantha was white, she was a brunette so I appreciated to challenge myself onto her. However I learn Package’s books and instantly discovered the American Woman I shared the strongest bond with. She needs to be a author and as a really younger aspiring author, I clung to this. Package’s household goes by a number of Despair hardships, however she stays resilient. Additionally, her theatrical film is legitimately good (Julia Roberts was an govt producer!) and I’m not simply saying that as a result of younger me had a crush on the actor (Max Thieriot, if anybody was curious) who performs the charming hobo.
5. Josefina Montoya, 1824
Emily: The one article of clothes I most coveted from the American Woman catalogue was Josefina’s Christmas mantilla.
Petrana: As soon as once more, American Woman stayed of their lane with tales of settling the American West — however Josefina affords a singular counterpoint. She’s not a pioneer; her household has lived in New Mexico for a very long time! Like Kaya (see later) Josefina is a crucial reminder that the time period “American Woman” doesn’t solely apply to no matter blonde, white individuals born on this nation had been doing on the time.
4. Melody Ellison, 1964
Emily: Of the dolls representing many years lower than 60 years prior to now, Melody is essentially the most fascinating and enjoyable. She’s a 10-year-old Motown singer! Named Melody! A bit on the nostril however nonetheless cute.
Petrana: There are nonetheless solely two Black characters within the lineup (three in case you rely the retired Cecile), however Melody is one other step ahead. Her story facilities on the Civil Rights motion. She has desires of being a Motown singer! You go, Melody!
3. Kaya, 1764
Petrana: A part of the explanation I ranked Kaya so excessive personally was that her sport on the American Woman web site completely dominated. It was this text-based survival sport, the place you, enjoying as Kaya, needed to escape from kidnappers and trek throughout the wilderness. It not exists on the location (or not less than, I personally can’t discover it on the location), which is a disgrace as a result of it was very hardcore. I don’t assume I really ever beat it on the toughest setting. Maybe someday…
Kaya can also be necessary as a result of she is the truest American Woman.
Emily: Kaya is American Woman’s solely Native American doll, however she’s additionally the one doll with not one, not two, however six animal associates in her assortment.
2. Felicity Merriman, 1774
Petrana: Felicity has all the ability of being an American Woman and the added bonus of being the Supreme Horse Woman to rule all of them. I actually appreciated Felicity as a result of I used to be additionally an enormous fan of PBS Children’ Liberty’s Children, which centered round three younger youngsters in the course of the American Revolution. It was my favourite time interval! Did I prefer it due to the Felicity books or did the Felicity books make me prefer it? I nonetheless don’t know the reply to this query, however I used to be additional ready for Hamilton years later.
With a struggle increase proper on her entrance door, there’s inherently extra drama in Felicity’s story than many of the different early American Ladies, which makes for an thrilling learn if you’re 7 years outdated and also you yawned by pages of Samantha’s tea events. (Sorry, Samantha!)
Additionally shoutout to her household’s apprentice, Benjamin, whomst I had a crush on once I was seven.
Emily: Felicity represented the period we realized essentially the most about at school, which implies she acquired a number of consideration once I was in search of books to learn for my e-book reviews. She additionally lived in Virginia, the place I grew up, which gave her much more of a relatable attract.
1. Molly McIntire, 1944
Petrana: Out of the unique three American Ladies (that’s Samantha, Kirsten, and Molly), Molly’s story is certainly the best — and the one that also holds up. Her dad is off serving as a medic in World Warfare II, whereas she and her household modify to the fast new adjustments that the struggle thrust upon them. She’s an unique which provides her an additional bump in standing right here, even when among the newer tales are extra nuanced. However Molly’s was compelling, even at first.
The American Woman characters at all times have fascinating flaws, be it Samantha’s class obliviousness or Josefina’s shyness, however Molly stands out in my thoughts for being typically bratty to the purpose the place typically I didn’t like her very a lot! However that stemmed from being the youngest child in a giant household — the one one with out sturdy recollections of their father — and it follows her all through the collection. Her friendship with Emily, a British woman displaced after the London Blitz, is a primary stepping stone for Molly to comprehend that possibly she has it a bit higher than some individuals. By the top of the collection, she’s grown as a personality and to be trustworthy, I take into consideration her arc to this present day as an excellent instance of youngsters’s literature.
We stan, Molly.
Emily: I really like Molly so freakin’ a lot. She’s an icon for glasses-wearers, an icon for trainer’s pets, and an icon for bizarre ladies who love consideration. We stan.