Paper Dolls were, simply enough, paper dolls of the Historical Characters. This article also includes information regarding the paper dolls that were available through American Girl Magazine.

Paper Dolls were one of the four things offered in the American Girls Pastimes collections and a part of the Portfolios of Pastimes collection, and are considered an activity book.

Paper Dolls Series

Original Historical Character Paper Dolls

Historical Paper Dolls

See also American Girls Paper Dolls

The first Historical Character Paper Dolls included Kirsten Larson, Samantha Parkington, and Molly McIntire. The book, part of the Portfolios of Pastimes collection, included three dolls—one for each girl—and various outfits and accessories from their collection as well as information about the clothes and items in a bound book. The book was discontinued in 1994 as by then paper dolls for other Historical Characters had been released.

Historical Character Paper Dolls I

Samantha's Paper Dolls I.

The first true series were released in 1992 around the time of Felicity Merriman. The dolls came in envelopes that opened at the top. The set consisted of a doll in her underwear—larger than the previous set—and her designated pet on thick pre-punched cardstock; nine or ten outfits on glossy paper; and related accessories on each page along with a quick summary of the associated book. The clothes and outfits needed to be cut out; tabs and numbers indicated how the items were grouped.

Facts about the character and outfits would be on the back side. Each outfit had tabs included to hang on the doll. Accessories would have tabs and the outfit would have slits marked where to open the outfit to attach the accessory. Information about the related book and facts about the era would be on a double sided page. It was intended that the pages be cut out and stapled together into a miniature version of an American Girl Central Series book. The cover for the book (based on the Meet Book) was included on the page for the accessories envelope. The last page included instructions on how to remove and stand up the dolls, create the book, make the accessories envelope, and use the main envelope as storage.

Frequently, outfits that never were made available for purchase for the dolls were illustrated.

These sets were available individually as well as in a bundled pack of four.

The first edition of Samantha's Paper Dolls, showing the ribbon pattern.

The first sets for Felicity, Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly had a subtle, suitable print pattern to the background of the envelope; this was changed when Addy Walker's Paper Dolls were released.

With the release of Addy Walker, the sets became part of the American Girls Pastimes series, which also included Cookbooks, Craft Books, and Theater Kits. At the time, an update of the packaging was done to tie the paper dolls to the other items and include information about the other books in a flier and the collections with a catalog request card. All items came in the character's signature color.

The paper dolls of this style were discontinued around the release of Kit Kittredge, possibly because she was not going to receive a craft book, cookbook, or theater kit.

Historical Character Paper Dolls II

Samantha's Paper Dolls II.

In 2003, after the release of Kit Kittredge and Kaya'aton'my, new paper dolls were again released.

There were several updates to the dolls and layout. The dolls now came in a folding trapper-keeper style book with Velcro closures. Instead of tabs, the paper dolls now came with reusable "sticky dots" of varying sizes that could be used to attach items and accessories. (Slits still needed to be cut in some outfits to hold accessories properly). The pages could easily be torn out of the book as the edges were lightly perforated, and then the outfits and accessories could be cut apart. Because of the new book style, the back of the book now included an opening envelope for storage based on the doll's storage, intended to hold both accessories and clothing.[1] A reversible background scene was tucked into the front, and the last page included instructions on how to remove and stand up the dolls and create the book. Each historical character now came with two characters from the series—one that could be seen as a best friend, and another related character, as well as one outfit for each.[2] Dolls from prior releases retained all the outfits from the previous paper dolls, with some updated to reflect changes in outfits (the most notable being Felicity's change in meet outfit.) The dolls were the same size as the prior release, and so clothes could continue to be intermingled among the sets.

As the Nimipuu and Ojibwe did not wear underwear Kaya, Speaking Rain, Two Hawks, and Singing Bird were drawn nude in a way that showed no anatomical details whatsoever. In Molly McIntire's paper dolls, Susan Shapiro and Linda Rinaldi are in their Camp Gowonagin uniforms instead of underthings.

Miniature predressed versions of this version and reversible backgrounds were temporary included with some Story Collections.

An activity existed at the website which allowed for users to print new outfits for each set of dolls (except Julie, who was not released at the time); once the game was successfully completed, an Adobe .pdf file could be downloaded and printed that would include the pieces of the outfit. While removed from the main American Girl site, they remained for some time as a part of Samantha's movie site until it was taken down. The files have been made available to download here.

Magnetic Mini Worlds were based on these dolls, though sets were not released after Kaya.

The second line of paper dolls were discontinued in 2009.

Play Scenes and Paper Dolls

Samantha's Play Scenes and Paper Dolls.

Starting in 2010, Play Scenes and Paper Dolls began to be released. These include the Historical Character, her best friend or companion,[3] designated pet, and a fold-out play set.

The books come with a white ribbon attached; the book opens to reveal twofold open scenes from the stories, and the back two pages include three pockets for storage of the clothing (generally, but not always, based on a prior storage), accessories, and dolls. The items are part of a tear-apart booklet that includes a small sheet with sticky dots; the first page is basic facts about the play sets with play instructions on the back. The dolls are on light cardstock; the clothes and accessories come on thin glossy paper stock, and the furniture comes on heavy cardstock. The clothes are now perforated as well, so they can be punched out instead of needing to be cut out. There are no longer historical facts or information on the back of the clothing or accessories.

A set of six cards—one for each book of the Central Series—is included with an idea for acting out scenes with both characters included. These scenes have a loose tie in to the book. Dolls have retained several but not all of the outfits from the previous paper dolls; the sets also included newer clothes sets that have been released for characters. Not all accessories from the previous sets are included, and newer accessories are included for decorating the play scenes.

The newer dolls for the Play Scenes and Paper dolls are scaled slightly smaller than prior sets, so the clothes and dolls cannot be interchanged as before.

Pop-up Play Scenes, demonstrated with Julie's Pop-Up Play Scenes.

Briefly in 2012, four sets (Rebecca, Kit, Molly and Julie) were also offered in Pop-Up Play Scenes. These came in six-sided pop-up boxes that once set up, were meant to store the play items and show two backgrounds. Pieces of furniture were included on cardstock pieces and, once set up, were three-dimensional furniture meant to compliment the paper dolls.

All available sets were retired in about 2014, and there have been no released paper dolls since then.

List of Individual Historical Characters Paper Dolls


Felicity Merriman

Caroline Abbott

Josefina Montoya

Cécile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner

Kirsten Larson

Addy Walker

Samantha Parkington

Rebecca Rubin

Kit Kittredge

Molly McIntire

Julie Albright

American Girl Magazine Paper Dolls

See: American Girl Magazine Paper Dolls

For several years, American Girl Magazine included a paper doll of a real girl who had submitted her information to American Girl to be drawn. Six girls were picked every year: one for each issue. In order to be considered, a girl needed to provide stories about at least three female ancestors and themselves, images of themselves and the relatives as young girls (photocopies were specified so as not to lose any originals), and pictures and stories of the people mentioned. She could then mail this to American Girl Paper Doll.

The dolls were drawn by Susan McAliley predominately. Information about the girl and three (initially four) of her female relatives would be included in a removable insert; a current outfit for the girl and "historical" outfits for each relative would be drawn. There were about 50 of these dolls; the series was discontinued by 2001.


  • Because of the release patterns, every Historical Character until the BeForever releases had been available in at least one version of paper dolls. However, as of the last release of Play Scenes and Paper Dolls, only Samantha Parkington and Molly McIntire were included in every release including the original three-doll set (disincluding the Pop-up Play Scenes).

See also

References and Footnotes

  1. Kaya was given her parfleche; Rebecca was given her costume chest.
  2. Ivy Ling was given two outfits because the Red Silk Dress was included in Julie's pages.
  3. As Marie-Grace Gardner and Cécile Rey are considered a matched set, they are the only two in their set.
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