Historical Collections are collections of all a Historical and BeForever Character's outfits, accessories, and furniture that has been available. It also includes, until 2002, the thematic groupings of available items based on Central Series books, showing how items changed through history.
Facts and History
From the debut of the American Girl Collection in 1986 until around 2004, the Historical Collection's basis was designed around the idea that although some things have changed, others have remained the same when it comes to being an American girl. Therefore, just as the Central Series stories followed the same pattern of stories about each Historical Character, the doll collections had the same types of items for each character. Until around 2002 (through the release of Kit Kittredge), each collection was combined into one layout in the catalog and maintained nearly equally for each character.
Divergence and Changes
The first divergence was Kaya'aton'my's collection in 2002. This was due to the necessary cultural differences of her life as a Nimipuu (Nez Perce) girl in the 1760s as compared to the lives of the other girls. 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 divergence occurred sometime around 2001-2002 when new releases were often limited to some of the characters. For example, Samantha Parkington and Molly McIntire received items related to their Travel Scrapbooks (but Kit Kittredge did not).
When Nellie O'Malley debuted, she and Samantha both received items related to their movie, Samantha: An American Girl Holiday but unrelated to any other collection pieces. Movie inclusions, as well as focuses on two to three characters, led to very unbalanced collections, and continued as more Best Friend characters were released and low-selling items were discontinued from other collections—most notably Addy Walker, Felicity Merriman, Kirsten Larson, and Josefina Montoya.
Julie Albright's collection—the first half of which debuted in the autumn of 2007—attempted a return to the prior theme of the historical collections, but many components were quite different. For example Julie is not given a desk and school supplies in her school collection; in order to focus on Title IX, she had a set of gymnasium bleachers and basketball gear. Rather than a nighttime style trunk based on standard storage, she received a school locker.
Best Friend Characters were given collections as well; most have extra clothes items and occasional accessories to complement the Historical Characters collections, and these collections are smaller than the full Historical Collection. Through American Girl the collections were categorized together under the primary Historical Character (for example, Elizabeth was considered part of Felicity's Collection).
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 a 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, collections are less based on direct data in the stories and vary from character to character, though new releases often attempt to include everyone available and are often themed (such as the release of new bedtime outfits in Spring 2015 and Limited Edition Historical Outfits simultaneously).
Complete Collection Purchases
Through Josefina Montoya, it was possible to purchase various grouped historical collections:
- The "Starter Collection" or Collection I consisted of the doll, outfits and accessories from the first three books (minus school desks), the first three books of the Central Series in hardback, and a hairbrush for about $250–300.
- "Collection II" consisted of the outfits and accessories from the second three books and the second three books in hardback for about $350–400. A doll and furniture were not included.
- "Birthday Collections" consisted of all the accessories and items from the Birthday Collection (minus doll) for about $150–200.
- "Sweet Dreams Collection" consisted of everything in the Bedtime Collections (excepting the trunks) for $250–300.
- The "Classic Collection" consisted of the doll, outfits and accessories from all six books, associated smaller accessories, the six books, a Welcome to ____'s World Book, and a hairbrush for about $350–400.
- The "Complete Collection" consisted of the doll; all of her available accessories, furniture, and outfits; a six-book hardback set; and the Skin Care Kit and Hair Care Kit I for about $800–950.
List of Historical Collections
- Kaya's Collection
- Felicity's Collection
- Caroline's Collection
- Josefina's Collection
- Cécile's Collection
- Marie-Grace's Collection
- Kirsten's Collection
- Addy's Collection
- Samantha's Collection
- Rebecca's Collection
- Kit's Collection
- Molly's Collection
- Maryellen's Collection
- Melody's Collection
- Julie's Collection
Collections by Themed Groups
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.
- Main article: School Collections
School Collections focused on standard methods of education and a uniquely styled "school" outfit; also included were school supplies, school furniture, and lunch food.
- Main article: Holiday Collections
Holiday Collections focused on 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.
- 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.
- Birthday Outfits
- Historical Character Pets
- Party Treats
- Birthday Presents and Playthings
- Dishes and Glassware
- Table and Chairs
- Main article: Summer Collections
Summer Collections focused on outdoor activities, often at new locations. This included lighter clothing, a new set of shoes, and outdoor summer activities.
- Main article: Winter Collections
Winter Collections focused on winter-focused outerwear; this also included indoor activities, carrying travel cases, and historical underwear.
- Main article: Bedtime Collections
Bedtime Collections focused on character's bedtime. These included nightclothing, beds, nightstands, and nighttime activities such as books or small toiletry care such as washing up in the morning or night.
- Robes and Slippers
- Historical Nighttime Accessories
- Historical Beds
- Historical Bedding
- Historical Night Tables
- Storage Trunks and Cabinets
Extra Outfits and Accessories
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). 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 playscenes for the first five characters.
In 1997, Limited Edition Historical Outfits were released for the five characters that were available at the time; these had no ties to any stories at the time and were focused on outdoor activities.
When Short Stories were released in 1999 and 2003, Historical Characters with stories received outfits tied into them. Kaya did not receive an outfit due to the simplicity of her culture; Felicity and Kit each only received one as Kit was not available in 1999 and Felicity had been regulated to online only in 2003.
Extra outfits and accessories continued to be released that are not specifically mentioned or tied into the Historical stories. These include the "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.
BeForever Collections are items that are, for the purposes of this Wiki, items and accessories that were made available for characters with the BeForever Relaunch. For several characters, older items were either retired or rereleased in a new form; all characters but Caroline and Kaya received new meet outfits and accessories, and each character received at least one new outfit and accessory.
Hairstyling Sets were released for every character, though the majority had been released for a brief period prior to the relaunch.  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.