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American Girl Doll (formerly Pleasant Company), a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc., is a direct
marketer, children's publisher,
and experiential retailer that provides
an array of premium-quality books, dolls, clothes, toys, and accessories
girls ages 3 and up.
The company's flagship line is a collection of historical 18-inch
dolls that have books and accessories.
The fictional heroines--who
each start their series around the age of nine and turn ten in the
important times in America's past, providing
"girl-sized" views of significant events that helped shape the
In addition to the historical collection, the company also offers a
wide range of contemporary 18-inch dolls and
accessories, called Just
Like You (formerly American Girl Doll
of Today), as well as the Bitty Baby line of baby dolls
In 1983, educator,
writer and entrepreneur, Pleasant T. Rowland was looking for dolls
to give her nieces for Christmas.
Rowland found that the only dolls
on the market were baby dolls, such as the Cabbage Patch Kids, and
dolls, such as Barbie. She could not find dolls that were
supposed to represent preteen girls.
That shopping experience,
coupled with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, inspired her to
create the American Girl Doll
line of historical dolls and books.
In 1986 the first catalogs were sent out. They contained the first
three dolls in the line: Kirsten Larson, Samantha
Molly McIntire. These catalogs featured only the first three stories
of each character's eventual
six-book series, as well as their
pajamas, beds and trunks.
These dolls established the original
format of the collections.
During the years 1986-1998, the company expanded, adding three more
(Felicity Merriman, Addy Walker, and Josefina
as well as a contemporary magazine called "American Girl
Doll", followed by a line of contemporary 18-inch
Doll of Today' dolls and the 'Bitty Baby' collection for younger
In 1998 Mattel, Inc. acquired Pleasant Company. This raised concerns
by some consumers since the
American Girl Doll
brand was seen as an alternative to Barbie.
However, Rowland believed and spoke emphatically about the two
brands being able to co-exist happily together,
as they meet the
various needs of girls at different times in their development.
As announced at the time of the acquisition, Rowland retired as
president of American Girl Doll
In 2004, the name of the company changed from 'Pleasant
Company' to 'American Girl Doll,'
to better reflect
how consumers were naturally identifying with the