The dolls and books arrived. Very interesting. It is clear there are two stories or papers here. One is the business of the dolls and the company that made them, and the other is the doll history--both the history written for the dolls and the history included with the dolls. Nellie's Promise suggests that the "real" history appearing in the back of each book serves as background for the story's plot. In Nellie's case, the history concerns adoption in the nineteenth century, and the story turns on Nellie's adoption into Samantha's family. Although the story does take up the issue of social class, the author finesse's the issue with adoption. In Nellie's case, the solution to class differences is simply changing Nellie's class. She's adopted by Samantha's middle- upper-class family. Still, the author doesn't entirely duck the class issue; Nellie goes to a "practical" school that will outfit her for a teaching job. Samantha continues on at the school that will, presumably, not prepare her for the work world. In some ways, however, this gambit is a familiar one. The adoption strategy was a common one is nineteenth-century literature. If memory serves me correctly, Louisa May Alcott's Under the Lilacs has such an adoption. All in all, the American Girl dolls and their accessories seem to be an interesting combination of nineteenth-century and twentieth ideas both in terms of the company's product and company strategy.
It looks like I'll need to acquire the rest of the books to get Samantha's entire story. Well, can't be all bad. It sure beats a court house attic with one dim bulb. One final thought--I wonder if there are other companies that have made a business of history.