No-man's Land. (Fear, Racism, and the Historically Troubling Attitude of America's Pioneers)
DISCUSSED: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Kansas, Bonnets, “A Great Many Colored People,” Copper Gutters, Martin Luther King Jr., People Who Know Nothing about Gangs, Scalping, South Africa, Unprovoked Stabbing Sprees, Alarming Mass Pathologies, Chicago, Haunted Hot Dog Factories, Gangrene, Creatures from the Black Lagoon, Tree Saws, Headless Torsos, Quilts, Cheerleaders, Pet Grooming Stores, God
This fall, the South Dakota Historical Society Press will publish Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder - apparently full of "not-safe-for-children tales includ[ing] stark scenes of domestic abuse, love triangles gone awry and a man who lit himself on fire while drunk off whiskey" (or, more academically put, "full of the everyday sorts of things that we don't care to think about when we think about history"). They've been blogging the process of research, annotation, and publication at The Pioneer Girl Project, as well as stories about crabs, a new letter from Pa, really useful books, as well as photos and a series of interviews with the researchers involved via.
Little Libertarians on the prairie. Book research by Christine Woodside suggests that Laura Ingalls Wilder's daughter, novelist Rose Wilder Lane, secretly ghostwrote the Little House books as an anti-New Deal fable, according to family journals and letters. Lane was also a friend of Ayn Rand and may have coined the term "libertarian." Tactical omissions in the massively popular frontier history of self-reliance include the land grant that gave 160 acres for a mere filing fee; the loss of their first homestead after borrowing money to save it, and Laura's blind sister receiving education funding from the territorial government (and not from Laura's job as a teacher).
“When I’m in clinic,” Dr. Tarini said, “and I tell parents their child has scarlet fever, I see their eyes widen. In my mind, it’s no different than a strep throat with a rash, but the specter of history colors their reaction.” Those emotional words describing Mary’s lost vision still carry weight with the parents who read and remember “By the Shores of Silver Lake” and all the books that came before and after it.But it turns out Mary Ingalls probably didn't have Scarlet Fever after all. [more inside]
Meteorologist and climatologist Barbara Mayes Boustead has loved the Little House books since she was a little girl. At her blog Wilder Weather, Barbara makes "connections between weather and climate concepts, events during Laura’s time and in her books, and present or future weather and climate concerns." For example, in October of 1880, a storm is brewing. "The initial shot of cold air brought near-freezing temperatures and a little bit of precipitation up north on the 14th. The low pressure system deepened on the 15th as it got spinning in eastern Nebraska, pulling cold air around behind it while it brought moisture up from the south. Then, the low pressure just sat there for a while and deepened. As it got deeper, the winds behind it – in eastern South Dakota – got stronger. The storm stayed in the area of northwest Iowa to southern Minnesota through the 16th, then pulled away into northern Michigan on the 17th, leaving cold air and breezy conditions behind it." And in De Smet, South Dakota, Laura Ingalls and her family settle in for the beginning of the Long Winter. [more inside]
Beyond Little House A blog dedicated to information about the life and work of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It includes information about the newly formed Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association and the first LauraPalooza conference coming up in July 2010.
In April of 1932, an unlikely literary débutante published her first book. This is how The New Yorker's Judith Thurman begins the tale of one Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the enduring Little House series. Those who have read the series may enjoy this glimpse into the story behind these stories, shedding some light on the lives of Laura and her daughter beyond the place where Wilder's books ended.