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Addy Walker of American Girl doll fame may be fictional, but the Civil War-era character is based on real people and solid history, according to historian Wilma King, who spoke Friday at the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal.

The University of Missouri at Columbia professor who was consulted on the six Addy Walker books, said the stories were based on writings from actual slaves to make them historically accurate.

She also showed her audience of about 70 children slides of documents and photos from one of her three trips to Africa. One of those slides showed a list of slaves leaving Ghana in the 1800s and the prices being paid for each one.

“They traded them for sugar, they traded them for onions, and they traded them for other things, and this was bringing children and men and women from Africa,” said King, who has written several books, including “Stolen Childhood: Slave Youth in Nineteenth Century America.” The book received the 1997 Outstanding Book Award from the National College of Black Political Scientists.

She also tied other aspects of the stories into a historical context, including the games played and occupations held by characters in the books.

Goals of learning

Evelyn Young, the club’s executive director, said the talk fed right into organization goals of promoting literacy and a sense of history.

“We have a library and we try to emphasize literacy, and what a wonderful way for kids to learn history,” said Young.

Young said she read all six Addy Walker books over the summer.

Some of those present took the opportunity to bring their Addy Walker dolls to the club. One was Alexis Starks, 11, a fifth-grade student at Northpoint Elementary School, Bloomington.

“It gave me a way to know more about slavery and where they came from,” she said.

King’s other appearances in Bloomington include speaking at Friday night at Wayman A.M.E. Church and discussing her writing and research at 2 p.m. today at the McLean County Museum of History, 200 N. Main St.

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