American Girl Nellie

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American Girl Nellie is an 18” doll that was introduced in 2004 by the American Girl company that produces a line of dolls and accessories depicting young, pre-teen girls from historic periods. The doll’s full name is Nellie O’Malley and represents a 10-year-old historical character from 1904. Nellie was introduced as Samantha’s ‘Best Friend’ and was the first in a line of dolls that were marketed as best friends of historical dolls with their own clothing collection and books.

The Nellie doll has freckles, deep blue eyes and short strawberry blonde hair. Nellie is a servant girl born into an immigrant Irish family and befriends Samantha. She teaches Samantha about the working class conditions of children during the period when factories used child labour. Nellie and her sisters are adopted by Samantha’s relatives after they are orphaned.

American Girl Nellie doll is dressed in authentic 1904 outfit featuring a polka dotted Swiss cotton dress with blue sash, cotton bloomers and white tights. Nellie wears black Mary Jane shoes. Her hair is tied back with a blue ribbon and Nellie’s body is made from soft cloth and the movable head and limbs are vinyl.

Nellie’s story is expounded in the book titled “Nellie’s Promise” which is written by Valerie Tripp and set in 1906. It features beautiful illustrations of American Girl Nellie and includes an essay called ‘Looking Back’ which describes the historical time of the setting.

The American Girl Nellie doll was due to be retired in May 2009 but was sold out in mid-December 2008. Nellie dolls can now only be purchases on the secondary market as American Girl has archived Nellie and her assorted collection of clothes and books.

Origin of the Name Nellie

Nellie is a diminutive of the name Nell which is derived from Eleanor, Ellen or Helen. Nellie means ‘light’ and is an abbreviation of Eleanor which means ‘shining light’. The name Nellie originated in England and is probably a corruption of the Old English term of endearment, ‘my Nel’

American Girl Nellie is an attractive doll whose story encourages young girls to keep their promises despite challenges and keeping peace in her family. Nellie reinforces the importance of being true to one’s ideals.

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