Are you a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, lover of western U.S. history or writer of family history? You’ll love our exclusive interview with Pamela Smith Hill, editor of the new Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiography Pioneer Girl.
The “grown-up” version of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s popular Little House children’s books has been published, and the Genealogy Gems Book Club got an exclusive interview with its editor, Pamela Smith Hill. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We bring you this conversation in the new Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 127 (Premium membership required to access). You can also find an excerpt in the free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 183.
Laura wrote this never-before-published autobiography in the 1930s. She scrawled “Pioneer Girl” across the cover of a dime store paper tablet. Then she filled it with detailed recollections of family, neighbors, wagon trains and homesteads: memories of pioneering in an American West that was fading away.
For someone raised on the gentler Little House re-tellings, Laura’s straightforward stories are intriguing and sometimes stunning, as are the behind-the-scenes look at Laura’s life that Pamela offers. I was riveted by the real story behind Jack the Brindle dog! And then, as an accomplished writer and editor, Pamela shares ways that all of us can improve how we share our family history stories. If you’ve been yearning to write your family’s story, this is a must-listen episode.
I had the very good fortune of visiting the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, MO) last week. It was icing on the cake to see the treasure trove of historical artifacts in person that were detailed in the Little House books, and that Pamela brought to life even further through her annotations in Pioneer Girl.”
The Genealogy Gems Book Club brings you exclusive interviews with authors of fabulous books that anyone who loves family history will love. We feature a new title each quarter: best-selling fiction, non-fiction, memoir–anything that resonates with those who love history and themes about family and personal identity. Click here to see titles we’ve recommended in the past and hear excerpts of author interviews.
About Genealogy Gems Premium Website Membership
The The Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast is one of the perks of Genealogy Gems Premium membership. For one low annual fee, members can listen to the monthly podcast–and all previous episodes. These are archived in the members-only area of our website along with more than 2 dozen Premium member-only videos on genealogy research strategies, organization, technology tools (like Google, Google Earth, Evernote, Dropbox and cloud computing) and more. Premium members can access Premium episode 127 through iTunes, the Genealogy Gems app (for iPhone/iPad or Android users) or on our new mobile-friendly website. Click here to learn more!
Since featuring Pioneer Girl in the Genealogy Gems Book Club, so many Little House gems have surfaced that we wanted to share this patchwork of Laura Ingalls Wilder documents and stories with you.
The Wilder Homestead Claim
A year before he married Laura Ingalls, Almanzo Wilder proved (or secured) his homestead claim to a tract of land he had been steadily improving in Dakota Territory. Click here to read an article about Almanzo’s claim and see a copy of the document. (Find federal land claims for much of the Midwest and West at the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records website. Genealogy Gems Premium members can learn more about the Homestead Acts and land claims that may have been filed by their ancestors in Genealogy Gems Premium podcast #33.
Little House-Inspired Fabric Series
Thank you to Barbara from NY who wrote in to say, “Lisa, I know you are very crafty so I wanted to let you know about a new fabric line that is coming in the fall. Andover Fabrics is putting out the Little House on the Prairie fabric line. In their ad it gives a quote from the book, “The attic and the cellar were full of good things once more and Laura and Mary had started to make patchwork quilts. Everything was beginning to be snug and cosy again.” I thought this went well with the book club book for this month.” Thank you, Barbara! We’ll have to look for some heritage projects that will theme well with these fabrics!
Writing and Editing the Little House Series: A Mother-Daughter Effort
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series didn’t come to press until decades after her childhood. By that time, her daughter Rose Wilder Lane was a freelance writer who knew the market. She saw the value in her mother’s memoirs and wanted to help her shape them into marketable books. This article talks about how stormy their collaboration could be, as they haggled over how best to memorialize Laura’s memories for modern children.
We heard from Chris on the subject of Rose’s editorship. “I also read Pioneer Girl and frankly enjoyed it a lot,” Chris says. But Chris has always wished Rose got more credit for the extensive editing and rewriting she did for her mother’s work, which apparently remained largely unknown. “As genealogists, we want to give all credit where it is due.” She recommends that Little House fans read A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert, which tells Rose’s story. Knowing Rose’s role doesn’t diminish Chris’ love for the Little House books, just gives her added perspective on the story-telling behind the stories.
Anyone who has ever tried to write a life story (their own or someone else’s) in a format for others to read will be fascinated by the letter shown in that article. Rose is trying to convince her mother of the need to whittle down her stories to the strongest story lines. “It is beyond all human power to tell all the facts. Your whole lifetime spent at nothing else would not tell all the facts of one morning in your life, just any ordinary morning when you get up, dress, get breakfast and wash the dishes.”
The Genealogy Gems Book Club Selects Pioneer Girl as Featured Book
Interview with Editor of Pioneer Girl: Laura Ingalls Wilder (This is an excerpt from the full interview, which will run in an upcoming Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode.)
How to Reconstruct Your Early Childhood Memories and Stories
Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 116 for Life Story Writing Tips with Laura Hedgecock, author of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life (Premium membership required to access)
The Genealogy Gems Book Club brings you great titles like Pioneer Girl, along with exclusive conversations with the authors. We’ve featured best-selling novels and memoirs, nonfiction books like this one and less-discovered titles we love. Click here to see other books we’ve featured and listen to the author interviews.
Who else do you know who might enjoy the Genealogy Gems Book Club? Please share it with them?
Digitization tips for old home movies and photos. Online storage and computer backup tips. The Genealogy Gems Book Club interview with Pamela Smith Hill, the editor of the new Laura Ingalls Wilder biography, Pioneer Girl.
These are all highlights of the free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 183, newly-published and available for your listening pleasure on our website, through iTunes and the Genealogy Gems app.
A special feature is an exclusive interview with digitization expert Kristin Harding from Larsen Digital. She is passionate about getting old photos and movies safely digitized and into storage we can access in the years to come!
As always, you’ll hear from fellow genealogy lovers who have written in with comments and questions. Diahan Southard returns from her summer break with a great new DNA story that settled an old scandal involving U.S. President William G. Harding.
So tune in and enjoy the free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 183! Then why not share it with a friend who may like it, too? Thank you!
When Lisa and I were young we read the “Little House” series of children’s books about growing up on the western U.S. frontier. These books continue to shape the way Lisa and I imagine our ancestors’ lives during that era. Well, the “grown-up” version of the Little House series has finally been published!
Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill, is our newest Genealogy Gems Book Club. It’s the never-before-published autobiography Laura wrote in the 1930s. The stories and memories she shares in it are the basis for her popular Little House children’s series.
Across the cover of a dime store paper tablet, Laura scrawled “Pioneer Girl.” Then she filled it with detailed recollections of family, and neighbors, wagon trains and homesteads. In other words, memories of pioneering in an American West that was fading away. Her stories will intrigue–and sometimes stun–any Laura Ingalls Wilder fan.
In the Book Club announcement in Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 181, I asked Lisa what makes this book a standout and a prime candidate for genealogists. Her answer? “The immaculate research that went into it. The stunning example it sets for source citations, which consume large portions of most of the pages. And the often never seen before photos sprinkled throughout that bring the people and times to life visually for the reader.”
Look for more on Pioneer Girl in the coming two months on the Genealogy Gems podcast and website. In September, Genealogy Gems Premium members will get to enjoy Lisa’s full interview with editor Pamela Smith Hill. We’ll play an excerpt on the free Genealogy Gems podcast.
Want to see more great titles we’ve recommended? Click here to access the Genealogy Gems Book Club, with best-selling titles: fiction, memoir, history and family histories. OR click here to see our growing list of how-to genealogy titles we love and have featured on Genealogy Gems in the past.