Boston schools get gift of 250 American Girl dolls, but not just any American Girl dolls

Schoolyard News reports that the School Committee tonight is expected to formally accept a gift of 250 "Melody Ellison" dolls for BPS elementary schools.

The dolls, which cost $115 retail, are meant to represent a black girl living in Detroit in 1964, after King's "I have a dream speech" and the Birmingham church bombings; the gift was arranged by committee member Jeri Robinson, who says schools are already using the dolls for everything from teaching history to fine motor skills.


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Wow, what a waste.

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Wow, what a waste.

$15 dolls would have provided the same educational benefit, leaving $25,000 for other crucial needs.

There’s a children’s museum

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There’s a children’s museum in Madison, Wisconsin, with a close relationship with the company that makes American Girl dolls. Through Robinson’s museum contacts, she was able to get 1,000 free Melody Ellison dolls for Boston. New England Blacks in Philanthropy (NEBIP) paid the shipping costs. The retail price of these dolls is $115 each.

It wasn't like they were being offered cash and spent it on dolls... American Girl dolls are overpriced but they're honestly great little tools for exploring certain periods in time and relating that to little girls' personal experiences, putting important historical events in context and humanizing events for modern students.

Well, someone made the

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Well, someone made the decision to spend money on expensive dolls instead of something else.

Ok, I'm always up for

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Ok, I'm always up for increasing my vocabulary.

But the post and article say nothing about these dolls being left to Boston in a will.

And telling someone to google something makes more sense if the thing they're supposed to google was in the post. Which "original bequest" wasn't.


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What an odd donation. Hopefully it is helpful to the teachers and students.


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I know the money could have been used for other more practical things. But I remember growing up poor in a Boston public project and I would read American Girl books from the library. The books introduced me to history and even concepts of economic and racial injustice. There were these forms in the back of the books you can send in to get a free doll catalog from the company. And oh, did I spend many a wonderful hour gazing through the catalogs admiring the miniature reproduction furniture and dresses. I never had the nerve to ask for a doll from my mother who was struggling financially, but I would have dearly loved to play with one as a child. The Pleasant - American Girl company opened a world of imagination for me. Their books then made me eager to read other historical fiction and non-fiction books. I went on to study history in college and now I work in a museum--I'm living a childhood dream.

So whoever donated these dolls--you should feel good. You may inspire another poor kid to love history and literature and become a studious nerd. :)