Little house in the big archives

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Hebert Hoover Presidential Library, The National Archives
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, The National Archives

If you have been reading Pieces of History, you know that the National Archives holds many unusual records. But when I started working here, I was excited to learn that we hold the papers of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, at the Hoover Presidential Library.

The childhood adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, especially her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, were some of my favorite reads as a little girl. I was jealous of my friend Abby, whose mother let her spend a snow day pouring maple syrup on the snow in the backyard, just like Laura did one winter.

The collection is three linear feet of papers and correspondence between Rose and Laura, and provides a glimpse into the creation of the books and the relationship between the mother-daughter writing team. But how did papers from a beloved children’s series become part of a Presidential collection?

Laura’s daughter, Rose, helped write the series. Rose lived in San Francisco and worked as a reporter—she also worked and travelled in Europe. She wrote The Making of Herbert Hoover, the first biography of Herbert Hoover, and the friendship that she and Hoover developed through penning that book lasted more than 40 years.

You can read more about the collection and download lesson plans and activities for your own pioneer adventure at the Hoover Presidential Library or follow their blog, Hoover Heads. You can also see how records in the National Archives back up what Laura wrote about one of her home towns in “De Smet, Dakota Territory, Little Town in the National Archives” (Winter 2003 Prologue).

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