Minnesota Author Biographies.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

From Little Town on the Prairie (1941) by Laura Ingalls Wilder

She saw the hoe, and the colors of the earth, and all the leafy little lights and shadows of the pea vines. She had only to glance up, and she saw miles of blowing grasses, the far blue skyline, the birds flying, Ellen and the calves on the green slope, and the different blues of the sky, the snowy piles of huge summer clouds. She had so much, and Mary saw only darkness.

She hoped, though she hardly dared to, that perhaps Mary might go to college that fall. Pa was making so much money. If Mary could only go now, Laura would study with all her might, she would work so hard that surely she could teach school as soon as she was sixteen years old, and then her earnings would keep Mary in college.

Biographical Notes

Birth: February 7, 1867, Pepin, Wisconsin
Death: February 10, 1957, Mansfield, Missouri

Author, editor, and columnist Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder homesteaded with her parents and sisters in Pepin, Wisconsin from 1867-69 and 1871-73; Montgomery County, Kansas from 1869-71; Plum Creek (near Walnut Grove) and Walnut Grove (Redwood County), Minnesota from 1874-76 and 1877-80; Burr Oak, Iowa, from 1876-77; Silver Lake (later DeSmet), South Dakota (Dakota Territory) from 1880-90; Spring Valley (Fillmore County), Minnesota in 1890; and Florida in 1891. She worked as a seamstress in DeSmet from 1891-94 and farmed at Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri from 1894-1957. She was a columnist for periodicals from 1911-32, including as the household editor of the Missouri Realist from 1911-23. Wilder authored nine children's books based on her life experiences. They are immensely popular chronicles of frontier life on the prairie in the 1870s-80s. She received the Newbery Honor Book award in 1940, 1941, and 1942, and the Henry Hartman Young Readers Award from the Pacific Northwest Library Association in 1939. The Children's Library Association established the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 1954. The popular television series based on her stories of growing up in Walnut Grove, Little House on the Prairie, ran from 1974-84 and continues in syndication. She married Almanzo J. Wilder and had one daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who was also an author. Her family genealogy can be traced back through her father, Charles P. Ingalls, to the early 1500s (see the book The Pepin Story of the Ingalls Family).

Selected Works
The titles below link to the catalog record in MnPALS, the Minnesota Historical Society’s library catalog. Please click on your browser's back button to return.

By the Shores of Silver Lake
Farmer Boy
The First Four Years
Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prairie
Little Town on the Prairie
The Long Winter
On the Banks of Plum Creek
These Happy Golden Years
West From Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder to Almanzo Wilder, San Francisco, 1915
Words from a Fearless Heart: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Whimsy

Additional Resources

Minnesota Historical Society Links

• Search MNHS Library and Archives Catalog for author - Searches for works by this author in the Minnesota Historical Society’s library
Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman behind the Legend by John E. Miller
The Genealogy and History of the Ingalls Family in America by Charles Burleigh
The Ingalls Family from Plum Creek to Walnut Grove Via Burr Oak, Iowa by Irene V. Lichty
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Bibliography: Writings by and about Laura Ingalls Wilder by Mary J. Mooney-Getoff
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography by William Anderson
Laura Ingalls Wilder: Her Life and Work by Jacquelyn A. Kitzmiller
Little House on Rocky Ridge by Roger Lea MacBride
The Pepin Story of the Ingalls Family by William Anderson
Pioneer Girl: The Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson
The Wilder Family Story by Dorothy Smith

Web Links

Beyond Little House - Newsletter
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum - Laura Ingalls Wilder - Information and activities for students and educators
Ingalls Homestead Laura’s Living Prairie - Brief history of Wilder in De Smet, South Dakota
Laura Ingalls Wilder Frontier Girl - Biography, maps, family trees, songs, blog
Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum - Brief history
Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society - History, maps, and a Laura Ingalls Wilder FAQ
National Archives - Ingalls homestead land records
National Archives - Prologue Magazine - Article about the Ingalls and Wilder homesteads
Pioneer Girl - Biography, song list, bibliography, and researcher blog
Walnut Grove - Information on the Wilder museum, annual pageant, and homestead site in Walnut Grove, Minnesota
Wisconsin Historical Society - Brief biography

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