by Greg Pliska and Vera Tobin, with assistance from Margot Pliska and Steve Cook
Answer: CITY SLICKER
Problem: Pi Day Town/​Bloomsday Town

Solvers are presented with eleven paper dolls, each representing a notable American woman. Each doll comes with three tabbed accessories: a top (shirt, jacket, etc.), a bottom (skirt, pants, etc.) and shoes. In addition, there are some loose accessories which help identify the woman.

The base of the doll reads “Hi, my name is” and has blanks into which the doll’s name or names can be written. The back of each doll is colored, and also includes four dots in various locations. Each tab on the three accessory pieces is also colored, and is marked with a letter or number.

Solvers should assemble the dolls with their associated clothing, and identify the dolls by name. When done correctly, the dots on the back will indicate four letters. Ordering the dolls alphabetically by surname (or single name), and reading the sets of letters from left to right, around the outline of the doll, will spell the message ORDER BY SURNAME MIX CLOTHES THIRTEEN UNIQUE COLORS.

Here are the assembled dolls:

Here are the intended clues to the identities of the noted women.

Historical FigureClueful AccessoriesExplanatory Link
ABZUG, BellaHer trademark hat; seal of the U.S. Congresshttps://history.house.gov/People/Detail/8276
BARCELÓ, Maria GertrudisPlaying cards backed with “La Tules”, as she was knownhttps://newmexi.co/people-of-new-mexico/the-fascinating-madame-la-tules/
BRICE, FannySheet music of “Second Hand Rose”, one of her signature songshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_Brice
CASSATT, MaryHer famous artwork, “The Child’s Bath”; copy of Le Figarohttps://www.artic.edu/artworks/111442/the-child-s-bath
FRANKLIN, Aretha45 of “Runnin’ Out of Fools”, her 1964 album; a tiarahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runnin%27_Out_of_Fools
HOPPER, GraceSheet of COBOL (language she helped develop); admiral hathttp://stories.vassar.edu/2017/assets/170706-legacy-of-grace-hopper-lead.jpg
LUAHINE, IolaniOutline of the islands of Hawaii; a hawaiian hawk (’io) holding a banner reading “heavenly bird” (the etymology of her name)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iolani_Luahine
NANYE’HI (Nancy Ward)Card showing her Cherokee name (ᎾᏅᏰᎯ) and her prestigious title “Beloved Woman” (Ghigau)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Ward
ROSS, BetsyA needle and thread and the “Betsy Ross” flaghttps://fotw.info/flags/us-betsy.html
THOMPSON, DorothyTime Magazine with her picture on the cover; typewriter page with “I am speaking of this boy” (one of her notable lines)http://content.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19390612,00.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Thompson
TUBMAN, HarrietScrap of paper with copy of actual reward notice from her escapehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Tubman#/media/File:Harriet_Tubman_Reward_Notice_1849.jpg

Here are the notable women, sorted by name, with highlighted letters as indicated by the arrows on the dolls’ backs. (The numbers in the header row refer to the tab position reading left-to-right around the back of the doll.)

Doll Body123456789101112
ABZUG, BellaOPRYDL2EA4M7
BARCELÓ, Maria GertrudisMRYB1YTASRF13
BRICE, FannyBTUAEFRLDN9A
CASSATT, MaryT12AMERLMMJIS
FRANKLIN, Aretha4XOZT3AC3LLO
HOPPER, Grace1OITRHE15HYSE
LUAHINE, IolaniTITRHGH7I9LR
NANYE’HI (Nancy Ward)1TEE2EPR13NRQ
ROSS, BetsyUNLKC5IAGDQT
THOMPSON, Dorothy2HUSTENCK5UO
TUBMAN, HarrietL51TMVOPJRES

Next, solvers must reassemble the dolls with sets of accessories so that the tabs and doll back contain thirteen unique colors (i.e., no colors repeat in any given assembly). There is only one unique assembly that achieves this, though most of the dolls have several possible individual assemblies. (As a potential aid to solvers, the first two alphabetically, Abzug and Barceló, have unique assemblies.)

When properly reassembled, the letters indicated by the dots will spell a new message: MATCH AG DOLLS YEAR ORDER VOL I CHAPTER TITLE LETTERS.

Here is the resorted arrangement, with the highlighted letters shown:

Doll Body123456789101112
ABZUG, BellaMRAMT3ACMJF13
BARCELÓ, Maria Gertrudis2HUAHGH7DNUO
BRICE, FannyL5OZERLM3LES
CASSATT, Mary1TRYEFRLA4RQ
FRANKLIN, Aretha1OLK2EPRGDSE
HOPPER, Grace4XTRMVOPI9LO
LUAHINE, IolaniBTITC5IAHY9A
NANYE’HI (Nancy Ward)OP1TTENCJRM7
ROSS, BetsyTIUS1YTAK5LR
THOMPSON, DorothyUNEEDL2E13NQT
TUBMAN, HarrietT12YBRHE15SRIS

The revealed message, MATCH AG DOLLS YEAR ORDER VOL I CHAPTER TITLE LETTERS, first asks solvers to understand what “AG” means. The use of “be forever” in the flavortext is meant to help clue this as well: each doll in this set can be matched to one of the American Girl BeForever dolls. (See appendix, below, for additional fact-checking resources.) The matching elements include ethnicity, heritage, occupation or aspiration, time period, and other personal details.

Here are the intended matches between American Girl dolls and the historical women:

Book Series YearDoll NameHistorical FigureBackground and connections
1764Kaya’aton’myNANYE’HI (Nancy Ward)Both Native Americans living in the west in the 18th century. Nanye’hi was awarded the title of “Ghigau” (Cherokee: Beloved Woman), making her a voting member of the Cherokee council in the 1760s.
1774Felicity MerrimanROSS, Betsy“[Felicity] is a tomboyish, daring, adventurous, spunky, brave, and fiercely independent-minded girl.” Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag during the Revolution.
1824Josefina MontoyaBARCELÓ, Maria GertrudisJosefina represents New Mexico under Mexican rule, living on a rancho near Santa Fe. Barceló was a saloon operator in Santa Fe beginning in the 1820s and 30s.
1864Addy WalkerTUBMAN, HarrietAddy is a former slave who is described as “a very brave, loving, thoughtful, and kind child, who often risks her safety for the safety of others.” This also describes Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and then made many missions to rescue other enslaved people.
1904Samantha ParkingtonCASSATT, Mary“[Samantha] either wants to be a painter like Mary Cassatt or the first female US President.”
1914Rebecca RubinBRICE, FannyRebecca is a Russian-Jewish girl in New York who loves attention and wants to be an actress when she grows up. Fanny Brice was a Manhattan-born Jew of Hungarian descent who began acting on Broadway in the early 20th Century and had a long career in stage, radio, and film.
1934Kit KittredgeTHOMPSON, Dorothy“[Kit] is interested in everything and fancies herself a reporter and factual writer. Her favorite place is the newsroom of the Cincinnati Register, where she often delivered Uncle Hendrick’s letters.” Thompson was one of the few women journalists on the radio in the 1930s, and the first American journalist expelled from Nazi Germany. She is known as “The First Lady of Journalism”.
1941Nanea MitchellLUAHINE, IolaniNanea is an active hula dancer (her second volume is titled “Hula for the Home Front”). Luahine is known as one of the great exponents of hula, studying hula when she was young and opening a hula school in the 1940s.
1954MaryEllen LarkinHOPPER, GraceMaryellen is “highly interested in science, especially rocket science and medicine due to her history of having polio.” Grace Hopper is one of the great computer scientists of the 20th Century. In the 1950s Hopper worked on UNIVAC I and began the development of COBOL.
1964Melody EllisonFRANKLIN, ArethaMelody is an African-American girl from Detroit whose “whole family is involved in music in some way, and are good singers.” She loves the Motown Sound. And Aretha Franklin began her legendary career singing gospel in Detroit, and by the 1960s had already been dubbed “The Queen of Soul.”
1974Julie AlbrightABZUG, BellaJulie’s slogan is “Now is my time to stand up and fight for what’s right.” She “finds it a duty to stand up against the prejudices of the past.” Bella Abzug was a social activist and leader of the women’s movement whose first campaign slogan was “This woman’s place is in the House—the House of Representatives.” In 1974 she was re-elected to the House of Representatives.

Once matched, solvers need to find the chapter titles for Volume I in each doll’s book series. The reassembled dolls also have two numbers on their tabs. Solvers should then read the first number as the chapter and the second as an index into the chapter title.

All the relevant data (including links to the chapter titles for each book) is presented in this table:

YearDoll NameChap.IndexChapter TitleExtracted LetterVolume I link
1764Kaya’aton’my17LET’S RACEClink
1774Felicity Merriman15MERRIMAN’S STOREIlink
1824Josefina Montoya27ABUELITO’S SURPRISETlink
1864Addy Walker1215SOMETHING PRETTYYlink
1904Samantha Parkington14JESSIESlink
1914Rebecca Rubin53SOLVING A RIDDLELlink
1934Kit Kittredge213READ ALL ABOUT ITIlink
1941Nanea Mitchell59THE REAL MCCOYClink
1954Maryellen Larkin49IN THE PINKKlink
1964Melody Ellison12MEET THE ELLISONSElink
1974Julie Albright[*]313JUMP SHOTS AND REBOUNDSRlink

The answer to this puzzle is CITY SLICKER.

Appendix: About American Girl BeForever Dolls

The American Girl Shop identifies eleven current BeForever (Historical Series) dolls.

The American Girl Wikia identifies fourteen historical dolls: the eleven above, plus three discontinued dolls. These are Kirsten Larson, representing mid-century settlement of the American “West” by pioneers, and C├ęcile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner, a paired set of characters representing New Orleans in the antebellum and during the 1853 yellow fever epidemic.

All the dolls come with book collections, the Central Series. Originally these were sets of six books per character, but with the relaunch of the Historical Characters under the BeForever brand each doll was given two volumes. The first BeForever dolls, MaryEllen, Melody, and Nanea, have only the two-volume sets; later reissues of the earlier Historical Characters recombining the six books into two volumes.

Crucially, the three discontinued historical dolls mentioned above never got a two-volume set, which is one of the reasons they cannot be included in this puzzle.

NOTE: The Amazon.com scan for the Table of Contents for Julie’s Volume I book is wrong. It contains a scan of Volume II.