American Girl Wiki

Samantha's Starter Collection, a partial example of a Historical Collection.

Historical Collections are collections of all of a Historical Character's outfits, accessories, and furniture that has been available for them. It also includes (until 2002) the thematic groupings of available items based on Central Series books, with the intention of showing how topical items changed through history.

Facts and History[]

From the debut of the American Girl Collection in 1986 until around 2004, the Historical Collection's themes were based around the idea of the theme: although some things have changed, others have remained the same. That is, emphasizing that while styles of clothing, activities, and personal items might have changed, the basic theme of young girls through history and their struggles and themes in their lives can be alike. Thus, much like the Central Series stories followed the same pattern of themes for each Historical Character, the character's collections had the same types of items in different forms as parallel collections.

Until around 2002 (through the release of Kit Kittredge), each sub collection had a similar layout in the catalog and the availability and number of items were maintained nearly equally for each character. Collections in recent eras are not as based on direct data in the stories and can vary from character to character, though new releases for a while attempted to include multiple characters of those available and were often themed (such as the release of new bedtime outfits in Spring 2015, Limited Edition Historical Outfits, and the revamping of items when BeForever was depreciated).

Divergences and Changes[]

The first major divergence came with Kaya'aton'my's collection in 2002. This was due to the necessary cultural differences of her life as an Indigenous Nimipuu girl in the 1760s; she did not live in the same European-American dominant culture, or have the opportunity for a variation of outfit styles. Nevertheless, an attempt was made to provide Kaya with as many analogues as possible. Thus she has a special pet, food sets ("lunch"), a special gift from her mid-series Winter story, etc.

The second major divergence occurred sometime around 2001-2002 when new releases of items became limited to select characters. This often was limited to the then-available Twentieth Century characters: Samantha Parkington, Kit Kittredge, and Molly McIntire. For example, Kit, Molly, and Samantha received collections about outdoor personal transportation--Rolling Through the Ages--and no character chronologically before them did. Samantha and Molly also received items related to their Travel Scrapbooks (but Kit did not); Josefina, Kirsten, and Samantha received a set of outdoor activity coats and hats that others did not; Addy, Kaya, and Nellie received cultural modern dance outfits.

A third divergence occurred when Nellie O'Malley debuted the Best Friend collections and Samantha debuted the first American Girl Movie, Samantha: An American Girl Holiday. An expansion of Samantha's collection meant both characters received items related to their movie, which were unrelated to any other collection pieces. As more best friends were released, this lead to new item releases focusing on characters with movies and/or complimenting Best Friends. Best Friend Characters collections often had extra clothes items and occasional unique accessories, but were intended to complement their Historical Characters collections. Thus their collections are smaller than the main Historical Character's full collection, and their collections were categorized as part of the primary Historical Character (for example, Elizabeth was considered part of Felicity's Collection).

Characters without Best Friends had smaller relative collections and this led to unbalanced collection sizes, especially as low-selling items were discontinued from other collections—most notably Addy Walker, Kirsten Larson, and Josefina Montoya. Felicity Merriman was affected by her partial retirement until her movie and Best Friend Release; however, many items rereleased for her were new versions of older items that had been retired.

Julie Albright's collection--the first half of which debuted in the autumn of 2007--attempted to return to the prior theme of the historical collections, but many components were not parallel to other characters. For example, Julie is not given a desk and school supplies in her school collection and only received a school lunch. Instead her school collection focused on her involvement on the basketball team; her "school" outfit was a basketball uniform, and she was given a set of gymnasium bleachers and basketball gear. Furthermore, rather than a nighttime style trunk based on standard storage, she received a school locker.

Collection Retirements[]

In Fall 2008, Samantha Parkington and Nellie O'Malley's entire collections were retired by American Girl with the exception of their books, mini dolls, and movie. This was the first time any Historical Character had ever been made wholly unavailable for purchase. In Fall 2009, Kirsten Larson and her entire collection was archived. In Spring 2011, Felicity Merriman and Elizabeth Cole's entire collections were archived. Molly McIntire and Emily Bennett's entire collections were archived in 2014.

In Summer 2011, Cécile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner further diverged from the traditional historical collection theme. Both characters were equally promoted as Historical Characters rather than a Historical Character and her Best Friend Character, with emphasis on a shared, single collection between the two.

American Girl announced Samantha would be rereleased in Autumn 2014 with the launch of BeForever. Later, Felicity and a rerelease of Molly (both under BeForever and as a revival of the original style) were made.

Nowadays, instead of full character retirements, characters are often now cubed: this reduces the collection available through American Girl to only the doll, available Central Series books, and meet accessories.

Complete Collection Purchases[]

At launch in 1986, Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly had collections similar to what would later be grouped as starter collections. These consisted of the doll and meet accessories, the first three books in hardback (as these were the only ones released) of the Central Series in hardback, the available school and holiday outfits and accessories, nightgowns, beds and the trunks in the $425-475 range. As more characters and items became available, more options for a partial or full collection became available.

Through the release of Josefina Montoya, it was possible to purchase various collections of items:

  • The "Starter Collection" (or Collection I) focused on the first three books. They consisted of the doll and meet accessories, outfits and accessories from the first three books (minus school desks), the first three books of the Central Series in hardback, and a hairbrush. Costs were about $250–300. When new characters were initially released, this would be all that would be available outside of bedroom collections.[1]
  • "Collection II" focused on the second three books. They consisted of the outfits and accessories from the second three books and the second three books in hardback; the doll was not included. Initially no furniture was included, but was later added. Costs were about $350–400.
  • "Birthday Collections" focused only on the birthday books. They consisted of all the accessories and items from the Birthday Collection (minus a doll) and the book. Costs were about $150–300.
  • "Sweet Dreams Collection" focused on bedtime items. They consisted of everything in the Bedtime Collections (except storage trunks and the doll). Costs were about $250–300.
  • The "Classic Collection" covered all six books. They consisted of the doll, the outfits and non-furniture accessories from all six books, the six books in hardback, a Welcome to ____'s World Book, and a hairbrush. Costs were about $350–400.
  • The "Complete Collection" was intended to offer all available items for a character. Along with the doll, the collection included all of her available accessories, furniture, and outfits--including any available extra outfits--and a six-book hardback set. Early complete collections sets for Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly included the six-book Slip Case and bookmark. These were later replaced with the Skin Care Kit and Hair Care Kit I. Later complete collections also included the 1999 short story and accompanying outfit. Costs were about $800–1000.

BeForever and Post-Beforever Collections[]

BeForever Collections are items and accessories that, for the purposes of this Wiki, were made available for characters with the BeForever relaunch and any character collections released initially during the duration.

With the launch of BeForever, all available Historical characters but Caroline and Kaya received new meet outfits and accessories, and each character received at least one new outfit and accessory.[2] For several characters, older items were either retired or rereleased in a new form; for example, Addy's School Outfit and Addy's Lunch Pail were different versions of items in her prior school collection.

Hairstyling Sets were released for every character, though the majority had been released for a brief period prior to the relaunch. [3] Limited Edition Historical Outfits were released for all but Caroline (her archival was later announced), and later new bed and bedding sets and Nightclothes were released for all characters.

Outfits and items continue to be released through the duration of the branding, though not all characters were included in every release. Releases often had a theme across the items.

The following characters and collections were initially released as part of BeForever:

The following characters and collections were released after BeForever branding was ended:

With the depreciation of BeForever branding, new items were released for Historical characters, including new abridged and illustrated versions of the Central Series. With the return of illustrations, items shown in the stories may reflect items in the collection (with some older ones having modified images to match). Nicki and Isabel Hoffman were released with journals rather than their first shared book.

Historical characters have Ultimate Collections as of 2020; these often consist of the doll and accessories, one or two books, one additional accessory set, and one to two outfits. The bundled collections have a modest discount over buying components separately.

Collections by Themed Groups[]

Meet Collection[]

Main article: Meet Outfits and Meet Accessories

These sets focused on day-to day wear for a character and were the outfit seen on the cover of the meet book and on a doll when purchased for a matched set. This changed with the 2004 cover changes, since Molly was put into her Halloween Hula Costume; still, all other characters continued to be shown in their meet outfits and this was restored with the covers of the first volumes in BeForever. Meet accessories help round out the character's look and are always offered to be sold at a discounted bundle cost with the doll.

School Collection[]

Main article: School Collections

School Collections focused on public and private character formal education. Along with an outfit different than the initial meet clothing, they also included school supplies, school furniture, and lunch or midday meal food.

Holiday Collection[]

Main article: Holiday Collections

Holiday Collections focused on winter holiday celebrations--dominantly Christmas. Outfits were aimed to be a high-class formal outfit of fine fabrics; also included were dolls, and holiday accessories and gifts.

Birthday Collection[]

Main article: Birthday Collections

Birthday Collections focused on the character celebrating her birthday. Outfits were light and spring-like and sets traditionally included a table and chairs set, gifts, party activities, and presents. A pet was also included, who featured in the story; Samantha initially instead received her Mohair Teddy Bear, though Jip was a major part of the story.

Summer Collection[]

Main article: Summer Collections

Summer Collections focused on outdoor activities, often at new locations. This included lighter-colored and/or lighter weight fabric clothing, a new set of complimentary shoes, and outdoor summer activities.

Winter Collection[]

Main article: Winter Collections

Winter Collections focused on winter-focused outerwear; this also included indoor activities, carrying travel cases, and historical underwear.

Bedtime Collection[]

Main article: Bedtime Collections

Bedtime Collections focused on character's sleeping spaces. These included night clothing, beds, nightstands, and nighttime activities such as books or small toiletry care such as washing up. They also included the large storage trunk for the character.

Extra Outfits, Accessories, and Collections[]

Extra Story Outfits and accessories originally tied into the main stories, highlighting outfits or extra items that were mentioned in the stories. These often included either a playtime or "work" outfit and another extra outfit that might have only been seen in one or two books (like Kirsten's Swedish Dirndl and Kerchief or Molly's Miss Victory Costume).

Extra items included replacement hair ribbons and a set of socks and shoes that could serve as small sets of replacement parts. These were only available for the first six characters.

Scenes and Settings were released as backdrops of play scenes for the first five characters.

In 1997, Limited Edition Historical Outfits were released for the five then-available characters, focused on historical outdoor activities. These outfits were initially unrelated to any stories; a few were later integrated into other stories.

When Short Stories were released in 1999 and 2003, included Historical Characters received matching outfits tied to the stories. Kaya did not receive an outfit due to inability to add more outfits for her culture at the time outside of modern pan-Indigenous clothing. Felicity and Kit each only received one outfit each; Kit was not available in 1999 and Felicity had been regulated to online only in 2003 and so did not get a new short story or outfit.

Stories and Outfits Collections were released as collection expansions for historical characters available, with the intent to be to expand on a doll purchase. These came with the American Girl Caddy, the character's birthday, school, and 2003 short story outfits, and the school and birthday books and the 2003 short story book.[4]

Extra outfits and accessories continued to be released that were not specifically mentioned or tied into stories. These include the Dance Outfits of Today sets for Addy, Kaya, and Nellie; "Rolling Through the Ages" sets for Samantha, Kit, and Molly; the Travel Scrapbooks outfits and accessories for Samantha and Molly; and Historical Swimwear for Samantha, Kit, Molly, and Emily.

Currently Historical Character additional releases after initial launch release are small and may only include one or two characters, often limited to an outfit and perhaps one accessory set. These are classified at Historical BeForever and Post-Beforever Outfits and Accessories.

List of Historical Collections[]

Best Friend Characters are listed under their respective Historical Character.


  1. Samantha's starter collection did not initially include the Real Gingerbread House.
  2. Josefina initially only received a replaced Meet Outfit.
  3. Josefina's was not initially available.
  4. As Kaya did not have a specified school, birthday, or Short Story outfit (and only one short story at the time), she only received two outfits but all of her Central Series minus the Meet book.