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 Women's History Month: Laura Ingalls Wilder

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PostSubject: Women's History Month: Laura Ingalls Wilder   Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:01 pm

Being that March is Women's History Month...
Here is an article on Laura Ingalls Wilder Thumbsup

Laura Ingalls Wilder

American writer

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."


Laura Ingalls Wilder is best known for her series of well-loved children's books. It was at the age of 65 that Wilder published her first book entitled Little House in the Big Woods. This first book and those to follow tell a near autobiographical tale of her own childhood. Her life as a pioneer girl is told from the perspective of a child and it is in this voice that she is able to communicate her early life so successfully to the children who continue to read her stories.

Father's influence

Wilder was born Laura Elizabeth Ingalls in Pepin, Wisconsin, in February 1867. She was the second of four daughters born to Caroline (Quiner) and Charles Philip Ingalls. Wilder's early life was spent constantly moving from place to place. Her father called himself a pioneer man and dreamed of going West to explore and settle on unknown territory. They traveled through thick woods, over barren prairies, through the swollen Mississippi, and over icy waters all in their covered wagon. They moved from Missouri, to Kansas, to Wisconsin, to Minnesota, to Iowa and finally settled in De Smet, South Dakota, where her father claimed a homestead. Laura and her three sisters grew up in De Smet. Wilder, however, never could quite see this place as home. The many moves in her early childhood made Laura come to the conclusion that the only way to know that she was truly home was to have her family around her. Following in her father's dreams, Wilder called herself a pioneer girl and made her home where her family took her.

Early education

Wilder's schooling was sporadic. She attended several different schools in her youth. Each move of her family meant she would have to start her education again in a new setting and often times no school was yet available. Her father, however, had made the promise to her mother that the children would receive a consistent education. The schooling she did receive took place in one-room school houses beginning with the Barry Corner School in Pepin, Wisconsin, when she was four. In 1880, when Wilder was 13, she finally found some regularity in her schooling. After her father had made the decision to stay put for a while, she and her sisters were able to attend the school in De Smet. Her formal education continued in De Smet until she was 16, although she never graduated.

Early career

Wilder's education was often interrupted by the family's constant need of money. It was always assumed that she would contribute to family expenses. She worked as a seamstress, earning 25 cents a day, until she received a teacher's certificate in December 1882. She wasted no time in taking her first teaching job, although in her heart, she was somewhat reluctant because of its location in a small settlement twelve miles from home. This first teaching experience was a hard one. She boarded with a family who was always arguing and the children she was expected to teach were nearly her age. Wilder felt she had little control over her pupils and was very homesick. Her savior during this time was Almanzo James Wilder, her future husband, who would drive through the Dakota blizzards to deliver her safely back to her own family every weekend.

A farmer's wife

On August 25, 1885, Laura Ingalls married Almanzo Wilder, who was 10 years her senior. Originally from New York state, his family had moved to Minnesota and from there Almanzo and his brother left this new home to stake out their own claims near De Smet. After his marriage, Almanzo filed both a homestead and a tree claim. Unfortunately, the first years of their marriage were full of tragedies. Their crops died, they went into debt, they contracted diphtheria, which Almanzo never fully recovered from, and maybe the hardest for both was the loss of an infant son. Wilder, so distracted by her grief, began a fire in the kitchen and then walked away absent mindedly. About 10 minutes later, when she heard the distinct sound of crackling wood, she returned to see the kitchen in flames and soon the whole house burnt to the ground. In the tradition of the Ingalls family, the Wilders moved several times but then settled in the Ozarks on a small farm in Mansfield, Missouri. This is where they were to stay for the rest of their lives. Here they raised their one surviving child, Rose Wilder, born on December 5, 1886.

Beginning writer

From August 1919, until September 1927, Wilder was the secretary-treasurer of the Mansfield Farm Loan Association. This organization allowed local farmers to borrow money from the Federal Land Bank in St. Louis. Here she was the sole paid officer, and she handled loan applications and transfers of funds with skill. This job brought her connections with other farmers. She used this and also her long experience as a farmer to begin her first writing attempts. She began successfully by writing columns about farm households for the Missouri Ruralist and about poultry for the St. Louis Star. She also sold a few articles to McCall's and Country Gentleman magazines between 1911 and 1924.

Little House series

Wilder did not begin writing her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, until 1931 and it was released the following year. The instant success of the book led to the Little House series, which became popular with young readers. Wilder took great care with each book to make sure that the point of view was consistently from that of a child. All except Farmer Boy were Newbery honor books and the entire series was reprinted in 1953.

In 1954 the American Library Association established the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in her honor and Wilder was the first recipient. The award is now given every five years to the author who has made a substantial contribution to children's literature. Most recently it was presented to Virginia Hamilton, who was also the first black author to win the Newbery Medal. A weekly television series, Little House on the Prairie, which was based loosely on Wilder's books, began in 1974 and ran for many seasons. Wilder died in February 1957 in Mansfield of a stroke. Forty years after her death, children continue to read and enjoy her books.


Little House in the Big Wood (1932)
Farmer Boy (1933)
Little House on the Prairie (1935)
On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937)
By the Shores of Silver Lake (1939)
The Long Winter (1940)
Little Town on the Prairie (1941)
Those Happy Golden Years (1943)

Source: http://www.gale.cengage.com/free_resources/whm/bio/ingallswilder_l.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Women's History Month: Laura Ingalls Wilder   Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:13 pm

That was a joy to read. Thank you Miss Carol.

"Willie, were you or were you not looking at the corsett ads in the catalogue?" - Nels

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PostSubject: Re: Women's History Month: Laura Ingalls Wilder   Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:14 pm

Thanks for sharing this.

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PostSubject: Re: Women's History Month: Laura Ingalls Wilder   Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:44 pm

Thanks for sharing this, Carol. For me, history must be made by women and men together, and Laura Ingalls was (is) a very special person. Her books are a great contribution to social and cultural history of the Midwest, much more than some deep and stern eesais from "serious historians" pens.

Thank you Laura! Thumbsup Applause


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PostSubject: Re: Women's History Month: Laura Ingalls Wilder   Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:58 am

Thank you Carol!

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PostSubject: Re: Women's History Month: Laura Ingalls Wilder   Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:30 am

That kind of makes you think how we have it easy in today's society? Life was really hard back then.

Thanks for sharing.

“Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it... Yet.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
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