Last week, The Felicity Generation blog post exploded across the internet—Instagram, Facebook, even local online papers picked it up! It just goes to show that something as seemingly simple as a child’s toy can have a major impact on our lives.
Sometimes it’s simply as a lovely memory, but sometimes it is much more—an inspiration, a way to reach across the years, the miles, the cultures and differences, and unite us in a way that is truly magnificent. The outpouring of nostalgia, of reminiscence, celebration, and joy coming through via text in the comments sections, and the photographs of women—of all ages—visiting Colonial Williamsburg, receiving their American Girl Dolls, and learning a bit of history through play was magical.
So naturally, we decided to take it a step further! I won’t write much more, because it’s true what they say—a picture’s worth a thousand words. However, I do want to take a moment to say thank you. To everyone who commented, to everyone who shared the post, to everyone who dug through old boxes of photographs to share with us a memory and beautiful capture of life.
Thank you to every parent, grandparent, and adult who purchased the American Girl doll books or checked them out of the library for a little girl who became inspired to learn more about history—and subsequently about herself. Thank you to every young woman out there who is carefully preserving her treasures to pass along to the next generation. Thank you to the Miss Manderlys and Felicity tour guides, to my colleagues who participated in the post, shared their stories, and still help carry on a shared joy and enthusiasm for learning. Thank you to my parents for indulging my love of history at an abnormally young age and finding ways to make it come alive.
I’d also like to extend a special thank you to the Costume Design Center (more specifically, Tom Hammond), Coach and Livestock (especially Mark Schneider), and Colonial Williamsburg Photographer Darnell Vennie for all their help to make the following possible. And also, for the lovely ladies who got up extra early on a cold Virginia morning to bring grown-up Felicity to life in the Historic Area.
Now, without further Ado…
The first of the books, introducing the lovely Merriman family, the cruel Jiggy Nye abusing his beautiful horse Penny, prompting a conundrum over fairness and horse theft, and also Ben the apprentice—who, by the way, we are certain fans will agree, ends up becoming Felicity’s husband.
Photograph of Whitney Thornberry, Historic Sites Interpreter
In the Second Installment of Felicity’s story, we meet Miss Manderly, the beloved teacher of young girls on how to take tea, dance and be the epitome of a gentlewoman, as well as Elizabeth Cole, Felicity’s best friend and a loyalist, thus sparking the debate over the Tea.
Photograph of Audrey McNeese, Historic Sites Interpreter
A dancing lesson at the Governor’s Palace, a new gown to be made, and a terrible illness befalls Mrs. Merriman, causing Felicity to lose herself in caring for her mother and helping to run the household.
Photograph of Samantha McCarty, Evening Interpreter (she made her gown herself!!)
For Felicity’s tenth birthday, a wonderful surprise is given from her grandfather, but another—far less wonderful—surprise is waiting for the townspeople of Williamsburg in April of 1775, and Felicity must decide between disobeying her parents and alerting the citizens of the city.
Photograph of Allie Cade, Apprentice Harpsichord Maker (the photograph that inspired this post!)
Felicity taps into her courage, strength, and wisdom to help Ben, who has broken his apprenticeship and run away to join the army—to whom do her familial loyalties lie?
Photograph of Katharine Pittman, Nation Builder
When Jiggy Nye is released from Gaol, and Elizabeth’s father is jailed for being a loyalist, Felicity must rely upon compassion, forgiveness, and kindness to help muddle through the conflicts that threaten to tear her world apart.
Photograph of Rachel West, Media & Engagement Manager
Photograph of Alexandra Morris, Junior Interpeter
(A special thank you to her mother, Katherine Ainslie Morris, for getting her up and at ’em, and for allowing her house to be used in one of the actual book covers!)
If you are part of The Felicity Generation and have enjoyed these blog posts—share them! Also, be sure to subscribe to the blog and STAY TUNED for upcoming posts on some real American Girls—and perhaps even a special surprise reunion just in time for Felicity’s birthday!
The first books were published in 1991 and 1992 by the Pleasant Company.
GUEST BLOGGER: Whitney Thornberry
Whitney is a Sites Interpreter who has been with the Foundation full time since March of 2015. She and her Fiance, Bryan, live in the Historic Area with their rescued pup Derby (a sweet girl of 3 who thinks the horses are just big dogs to play with) and they are looking forward to their impending nuptials in April! Whitney loves hosting dinner parties, sewing, reading, distressing furniture, science fiction, historical dramas, old movies and anything from the Williamsburg Winery. Her mother used to say she was born in the wrong century—and now she gets the best of both!