Posted on

Meet American Girl Doll Samantha Parkington – Learn about Life in the Early 1900s

The American Girl Doll Samantha Parkington was born in Mount Bedford, New York, in 1895. People call that era the Gay Nineties or the Turn of the Century, meaning the turn from the 19th Century to the 20th Century. This period of history is also called the Victorian era. Queen Victoria ruled England from 1837 to 1901.

Victorianism affected many things in both England and America. The Victorian style of architecture is especially notable. Samantha’s house was based on a Victorian house in Mount Kisco, New York. Here is a quote:

“Author Valerie Tripp grew up in Mt. Kisco, New York, and she passed this house every day on her way to school. The Victorian home inspired the one she wrote about in Samantha’s stories.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 66.

I love Victorian houses, and I relate to many things about the Victorian era. That is when my grandparents were young. In many ways, I am still connected to that time period, and Samantha felt connected to her own time period and the times before her. Although she was born in the 1800s. She was a child in 1904. Here is a quote:

“Samantha is growing up at the start of a new century, and the world is changing fast. Samantha is excited by new ideas, but her grandmother, Grandmary, insists that the old ways of doing things are best. Sometimes Samantha feels torn between the two worlds she lives in.” American Girl The Story of America, p. 34

When Samantha Parkington was first released in 1986, she wore a plain, checked dress. It was like a school dress. When Samantha was re-released as a Beforever Doll in 2014, she arrived in a frilly pink dress.

Here is what the American Girl website says about Samantha and her Beforever Meet Outfit:

Samantha Parkington is kind, generous, and always ready to make a new friend. She has sparkling brown eyes that open and close and long, glossy brown curls. She comes in an authentic 1904 outfit [which includes]:

  • A petal-pink dress with a layer of sheer dotted mesh on top, a lace hem and collar, short puff sleeves, and a burgundy velvet sash
  • White tights
  • White bloomers [or underpants]
  • Black Mary Jane shoes
  • A burgundy ribbon for her hair

Samantha’s accessories include a velvet purse and a locket. Here is what the American Girl website says about Samantha’s Accessories:

When Samantha is out and about, she always brings her favorite accessories:

  • A golden locket necklace that she keeps close to her heart
  • A lace headband featuring a pretty two-tone flower with pearly accents at the center
  • A velvet burgundy purse on a golden chain, just in case she walks by Mr. Carruthers’ Candy Shop—or a friend in need


Although the books tell us that Samantha would rather be climbing trees than acting like a proper lady, I see Samantha as lacey and fine. Her pink coat and hat are part of my favorite American Girl outfit. Beneath her pink coat in this picture, Samantha is wearing her Flower Picking Dress and Button Up Boots. Again, Samantha’s clothes are some of my favorite clothes. In the right photo, Samantha is carrying her Traveling Bag in one hand and her Lacy Parasol in the other. American Girl still sells the Lacy Parasol.

Quite often, Victorian homes have fancy, little garden houses or shelters behind them. These are called Gazebos, and Samantha has a Gazebo. In this picture, Samantha is serving her Summertime Treats in her Gazebo. You can still buy Samantha’s Summertime Treats. Here is what the American Girl website says about them:

Samantha is ready for a delightful afternoon party! Her celebration will be the sweetest one yet with this set [which includes]:

  • Colorful faux petits fours to serve on a golden-rimmed plate with a dainty doily
  • Two pink glasses
  • A matching pink vase for holding the flowers that Samantha picked that morning
  • A lacy fan to help her keep cool
  • A pair of napkins

Samantha often paints while she is out in her gazebo, too. Here is a quote about Samantha and her interest in art:

“Painting and drawing are popular hobbies for young ladies at the turn of the century. Samantha’s dream is to be a professional painter one day, like her hero, the famous Mary Cassatt.” American Girl The Story of America, p. 34

Mary Cassatt was an Impressionist painter, and she is known for her paintings of mothers with their children. Most Impressionists were from France and were men. Mary Cassatt was from American, and she was a woman.

In this picture, Samantha is dressed in her School Outfit, which has a Buster Brown look to it. Buster Brown was a comic strip character created in 1902 by Richard F. Outcault, and he was adopted as the mascot of the Brown Shoe Company in 1904. Samantha Parkington’s tenth birthday was in 1904. Buster Brown, his sweetheart Mary Jane, and his dog Tige, an American Pit Bull Terrier, were well-known to the American public in the early 20th century. The character’s name was also used to describe a popular style of suit for young boys, the Buster Brown suit, that echoed his own outfit.[1] Wikipedia

Mary Jane Shoes are typically black with straps across the top. They are named for Buster Brown’s sweetheart Mary Jane. Like Buster Brown and his girlfriend, Samantha often wears Mary Jane shoes.

When Samantha Parkington was a child, only the wealthier children were able to go to school, but they didn’t dress for school the way that we do today. They also sat in different kinds of desks. Because there were no cafeterias at school when she was a child, Samantha carried her lunch to school in a tin pail.

When she was a child, Samantha made the acquaintance of a poor girl named Nellie, and poor children were not allowed to stay in school. They had to quit school and go to work early–while they were still children. Regardless of the fact that Samantha was wealthy and Nellie was poor, Samantha was Nellie’s friend, and Samantha invited Nellie to her parties, and she shared her toys with her.

Samantha’s Aunt Cornelia rallied for the rights of women. She was what is called a Suffragist or a Suffragette. Like her aunt, Samantha also rallied, but she rallied for the rights of children, and she spoke out against child labor, the tradition that forced poor children like Nellie to quit school and go to work. Samantha’s Aunt Cornelia ultimately adopts Nellie, and Nellie has privileges, too.

When Samantha was a child, the horse and buggy days were beginning to end, and people were finding other ways to travel. Bicycles were very popular, and Samantha had a bicycle. Samantha called her grandmother Grandmary, and although it did not make her Grandmary happy, Samantha got a pair of pants to make riding her bicycle easier. Samantha’s bicycle pants were called bloomers. Here is a quote:

“Amelia Bloomer popularized bloomers (loose-fitting pants) for women. She believed that ladies should wear comfortable fashions for activities such as cycling.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 36.

During the Victoria era, children often wore sailor outfits. Queen Victoria’s children’s portraits were done in sailor suits. Samantha’s bathing suits look like sailor suits. The skirt of Samatha’s Piney Point bathing suit opens, and she wears bloomers underneath the skirt.

When Samantha was a child, Teddy Roosevelt was elected president. He was president from 1901 – 1908. Because he had refused to shoot a bear while out hunting, the first Teddy bear was created in honor of President Roosevelt. Samantha received a Teddy bear for her birthday in 1904.

But my favorite of Samantha’s toys is her Clara doll, which is no longer made. Samantha received her doll for Christmas. I am happy to say that my Samantha doll has a Clara doll–a doll of her own. You might want to check out my video about the American Girl Dolls Who Have Dolls of Their Own. Samantha was wearing her Cranberry Christmas Dress in her Christmas Story Book: Samantha’s Surprise.

Samantha’s Cranberry Christmas Dress is part of her original wardrobe. It is designed in the Victorian Blouson syle, which was popular during the Turn of the Century. Here is a definition of Blouson: a woman’s outer garment having a drawstring, belt, or similar closing, at or below the waist, which causes it to blouse. .[or poof above the waist].  Samantha’s original outfit patterns also include her Winter Plaid Cape and Garters, and her Birthday Dress and Pinafore.

©Jacki Kellum March 19, 2017


Posted on

Meet the American Girl Doll Josefina Montoya – Learn the History of America

Chronologically speaking the fourth historical American Girl Doll is Josefina Montoya who is from Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1824.

If we look at a map of the United States, we can see that with the addition of Josefina, we now have dolls from 4 sides of the country. The first doll Kaya is from the Northwest, and Felicity Merriman is from Wiliamsburg, VA, which is on the East Coast, which is completely on the other side of the country. Caroline Abbott is from the extreme northern part of the United States, in Sackets Harbor, New York. She is almost from Canada, and Josefina is from the Southwest. I love the American Girl Doll Company’s commitment to teaching history through the American Girl Dolls, and as you will begin to see, the dolls are also used to teach about the huge variety of cultures in America.

Throughout this article, I’ll be referring to passages from two excellent American Girl Doll books: American Girl: The Story of America and American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide. Both of these were published by DK.

“Josefina’s aunt, Tia Magdalena, is a healer. She teaches Josefina to use herbs from her garden on the rancho as medicine.” American Girl: The Story of America, p. 18.

Tia is the Spanish word for Aunt.

In the above picture, Josefina is wearing her Herb Gathering Outfit, and she her Rebozo is wrapped around her head.

“A long, fringed rebozo covers Josefina’s head from the sun when it’s hot, and keeps her warm on cool evenings.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 48.

Image result for josefina heirloom accessories

You can still buy Josefina’s rebozo at The rebozo is part of the set Josefina’s accessories.

The yellow-striped dress is Josefina’s Christmas dress, and she is wearing a black mantilla, which is a veil that is held in place by a fancy comb. Josefina’s mamá makes her a doll, who wears the same dress and a similar black veil.

“Josefina enjoys sewing and making clothes for herself. When her aunt gives Josefina some striped fabric, Josefina makes a dress to wear on Noche Buena, Christmas Eve–the most special night of the year on the rancho. … Her doll Niña was made by her mamá.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 49.

Josefina’s doll is part of her Nighttime Accessories Collection that is still stole at

Josefina has a rug blanket on her bed.

“Josefina learns how to weave warm blankets using colored yarn and a loom. ” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 48.

“When night falls on the rancho, Josefina is tucked up beneath a colorful blanket, and she has sweet dreams on her soft mattress, called a colchon. A cozy rug is the perfect spot to say good night to her pet goat Sombrita.” Josefina’s black-and-white goat is name Sombrita. This is Spanish for ‘little shadow,’ because the goat follows Josefina wherever she goes!” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 49.

“Whether it’s a family dinner or special fiesta, osefina enjoys the hustle and bustle of working in the cocina, or kitchen. Together, Josefina and her three sisters make traditional New Mexican foods, such as tortillas, using fresh ingredients gathered from their kitchen garden. Josefina and her family use an outdoor oven called a horno for baking.” American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 51.

“Instead of celebrating her birthday, Josefina celebrates the feast day of San José, the saint she was named after. Helping Josefina look her best, her sisters bring out Mamá’s embroidered shawl and black fan, treasures saved just for special occasions.”  American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide, p. 5

One thing that I love about American Girl Dolls is that they help us realize how much of a melting pot America is. If we are all perfectly honest, we must admit that every human in America is an immigrant. Kaya and other Native Americans arrived here before the rest of us, but even the people that we call “Native Americans” are immigrants. At one time, the waters that separated the USA and Asia were a solid land mass, and the Native Americans walked across that land and migrated from Asia to America.

Felicity’s people sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and migrated from England to Williamsburg, VA.

Josefina’s people came from what once was Mexico but that became New Mexico when that area broke away from Spanish rule.

“In 1821, New Mexico becomes part of Mexico, which declares independence from Spain. When a new trail from Missouri Connects the U.S. to Mexico, American traders travel to Santa Fe for the first time. An exciting relationship develops between the two countries. In 1912, New Mexico joins the United States.” American Girl: The Story of America, p. 20.

“Before Mexico gained independence, the land was called New Spain. Other states were once part of Mexico, too, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.” American Girl: The Story of America, p. 21.

“New trade routes mean people in Mexico and the U.S. get to learn more about each other. When Americanos (American traders) come to Santa Fe, they get a glimpse of New Mexican life. Americans get to see New Mexican style, such as dresses, rebozos (shawls), and lacy fans–just like Josefina’s–for the first time.” American Girl: The Story of America. p. 20.

You can still buy Josefina’s Feast Outfit at

Here is what the website says about the Feast Outfit:

Instead of celebrating her birthday, Josefina celebrates the feast day of San José, the saint for whom she was named. She’ll be the star of her special party in this outfit that features:

  • A crisp white camisa, or blouse, edged with rows of ruffles
  • A brilliant turquoise skirt with embroidered trim
  • A wide orange sash that ties in back
  • Fancy slippers in turquoise satin—a surprise gift from her sister Clara
  • Silky red ribbons for her hair

You can also still buy Josefina’s Heirloom Accessories at

 Image result for josefina heirloom accessories

Other of Josefina’s Outfits:

Josefina Party Outfit:



Women from Mexico City, who were inspired by the European styles of the day, often visited Santa Fe wearing outfits like this one, which features:

  • A dress made of a floral calico print with a raised empire waist and tabbed trim
  • A fitted black spencer jacket

Josefina’s Havest Outfit




©Jacki Kellum March 12, 2017