Historic dolls--now celebrating the 1970s

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Nine-year-old Julie Albright likes to wear her long blond hair loose, with a single thin braid in the front. With her parents divorcing, and with her move from a big house in San Francisco to a smaller apartment across town, she is trying to adapt to a bewildering web of changes, just like a lot of other children growing up in the 1970s.

Except she is 18 inches tall.

Julie and her Chinese-American friend, Ivy, are the latest additions to American Girl’s fabulously popular line of historical dolls and books. Scheduled to be introduced on Sept. 10 in the company’s stores in New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles, these West Coast girls are the first new characters in the series in five years and the first to be situated in an era so close to the present. Girls who grew up playing with Dawn and Chatty Cathy can now watch their own daughters play with a doll version of themselves.

“We have high expectations and hopes for this character, because it’s striking such a powerful connection between girls and their moms,” said Julia Prohaska, the company’s senior director of marketing. “It will become the new gold standard.”

But don’t expect Julie to be dragged to a peace rally or to Haight-Ashbury for a Summer of Love flashback. Or to talk about Watergate, the hostages in Iran, the fall of Saigon, the recession, the oil crisis, the Jonestown suicides, gay rights, affirmative action, President Richard M. Nixon’s pardon, Love Canal, Roe v. Wade or the radioactive leak at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant.

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