BYU Professor Helps Create Doll for American Girl

Meet Melody, one of the newest American Girl dolls. She was designed in part by BYU history professor Rebecca de Schweinitz, who is helping to teach history to young girls  through her.

Photo: American Girl

Melody is no ordinary doll. She is one of a select few character dolls in the American Girl BeForever series meant to teach young girls their valuable role in history. For the past two years, Professor de Schweinitz has served on an advisory board that ensures the historical accuracy of Melody’s story.


Melody is a fictional character, but her story takes place in a very real setting. Growing up in early 1960’s Detroit at the height of the civil rights movement, she uses her singing voice to make a difference in her community.

De Schweinitz’s efforts were informed by her research into the influence of youth on the civil rights movement, published in a book titled If We Could Change the World: Young People and America’s Long Struggle for Racial Equality in 2011. The book was featured in a March 2016 in a  Time Magazine article meant to provide parents with tips for sparking kids’ interest in civil rights. “Children were not just observers in history,” says de Schweinitz. “Many of them were forces for change.”
De Schweinitz worked alongside other board members to contribute to Melody’s story, a copy of which is included with each Melody doll. They also worked with designers to make the doll itself more interesting and historically accurate. They ensured that the texture of her hair and the material used for her clothing were authentic to what a girl in 1960’s Detroit would have had. “American Girl works really hard to make sure their products are authentic,” says de Schweinitz. “I’ve been really impressed.”
American Girl makes dolls like Melody to help girls build a positive sense of self.

Through her research, teaching, and involvement with projects like this, Professor De Schweinitz hopes to help all children “see that young people [have been] active agents of history” and can make a positive difference in the future. She will continue working with American Girl to fulfill their mission to celebrate girls and inspire them to be the best they can be.

The doll will become available in August of 2016.


How do you inspire your children to make a difference?

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