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Barbie the Wisconsinite: The iconic doll comes with Wisconsin roots

By Hannah Hilyard

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    MADISON, Wisconsin (WISN) — As the highly-anticipated “Barbie” movie hits theaters this week, here’s a little-known fact: Barbie is from Wisconsin.

“Mattel originally in the ’60s put out a series of books about Barbie, and in those books, she was identified as having graduated from high school in Willows, Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Historical Society state archivist Abbie Norderhaug said.

Yes, even according to Barbie’s website, she’s from Willows, Wisconsin, although how long she lived in the fictional town has changed throughout the years.

“In the 2000s, 2010s, she got her story changed just a little bit. She moved from Willows when she was 8,” Norderhaug added.

The Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison has a Barbie collection dating back to 1961. That’s two years after she originally debuted in the same iconic black-and-white-striped bathing suit. The museum also has a Barbie dressed in a University of Wisconsin-Madison cheerleader uniform.

“Is there any indication in the history of Barbie as to why Wisconsin?” 12 News Hannah Hilyard asked Norderhaug.

“Not in the history of Barbie that we’ve been able to find,” she replied. “We sort of believe that Wisconsin is sort of often thought of as a classic Americana kind of state with a lot of tradition and a lot of ties to popular culture.”

The historical society’s Barbie collection is not currently on display, but everyone can see “Barbie” in theaters, starting in select theaters this Thursday.

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