All Dolled Up

UConn Magazine’s art director Christa Yung with her Kirsten doll, circa 2000

UConn Magazine’s art director Christa Yung with her Kirsten doll, circa 2000.

Julie Bartucca with her Samantha doll, circa 2021

UConn writer/alum Julie Bartucca with her Samantha doll, circa 2021.

The pictures above are testament to the truth behind the answer art director Christa Yung gave me when I asked her why she was so excited to work with writer, colleague, and friend Julie Bartucca ’10 (BUS, CLAS), ’19 MBA on the American Girls podcast story that begins on page 26. “I know she has a deep nostalgic connection to American Girl dolls like I do — and Julie and I are similar in that we’re not embarrassed of our dorky pasts and our continued interest in history. To me, American Girl dolls have always been about the historical backstory, not just the doll.”

Yung particularly loved her Kirsten doll for the Western frontier backstory that played out in corresponding Kirsten books about American pioneer life. Bartucca remembers reading about the women’s suffrage movement in books about Samantha, the early 1900’s–era doll she recalls getting for Christmas at age 8 or 9. “Reading these books, playing with the dolls, looking at the catalog time after time and circling what I hoped to get, finding patterns for doll clothes that my Grammie could make for me, and consuming the other tangential American Girl stuff was a big part of my childhood,” says Bartucca. As it turns out, her aunt Patrice (McCarthy) Attolino ’87 (SFS) had saved Samantha from tag sale oblivion, knowing her niece might want to pass the doll on to the next generation. And none too soon. As we went to press, Bartucca was due to give birth to her first child in a matter of weeks. And just weeks before press time, Yung’s first child, Eugene Oliver (below), came into the world, helped along by two graduates of the UConn School of Nursing.

Find a tribute to more of our nursing alums online, and please don’t miss the story Bartucca penned about the American Girl zeitgeist — it’s a great read whether you lived the trend like she did or never heard of the dolls before today.

Christa Yung holding first child, Eugene Oliver

By Lisa Stiepock
Photos Courtesy of Christa Yung and Julie Bartucca ’10 (BUS, CLAS), ’19 MBA


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