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Posts Tagged ‘Pioneers’

Happy Birthday, Half-Pint!

Laura Ingalls Wilder Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Today marks the 150th birthday of one of the most widely read American children’s authors, Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Her autobiographical Little House on the Prairie series based on her childhood, published from 1932 to 1943, remains at the top of many a young child’s reading list today.  In the pantheon of children’s literature, the Little House books are considered classics having sold over 60 million copies.

Laura Ingalls was born in the Big Woods of Wisconsin on February 7, 1867.  She was the second child born to Charles and Caroline Ingalls.  Her books reflect her life during the 1870s through 1880s as part of a pioneer family on the move.  At the urging of her daughter, Rose, Laura wrote nine books chronicling the family’s moves from the Big Woods to Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and finally South Dakota.  Her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, was published in 1932 when Laura was 65.

Little House on the Prairie Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

The legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books has been enduring.  In 1954, to honor her enduring contribution to children’s literature, the American Library Association created the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.  Originally awarded every three years to an American author or illustrator, it is now awarded annually to any author or illustrator whose books, like Laura’s, have made a lasting impact in the world of children’s literature.  Perhaps more well known is the Little House on the Prairie television show that ran from 1974-1983.  The show remains popular and  continues in reruns today.

For this writer, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books played an important part of my childhood and my adult life.  I remember receiving the Little House box set for Christmas at age 9 from my grandparents.  What an exciting gift for a young reader!  My sister and I took turns reading the series.  Little House was weekly viewing for my family and remained so for me in my college years.  My roommate and I would set our schedules around Little House reruns.

Take some time to learn more about this influential writer who died at age 90 in 1957.  Read or re-read the Little House books.  See for yourself why the legacy and impact of Laura Ingalls Wilder endures.

The Donner Party Becomes Snowbound

Donner Party Research Topic

Donner Party (1846-47) Research Topic from ProQuest eLibrary

On April 14, 1846, the Donner and Reed families left Springfield, Illinois, headed for the California Trail, which began at Independence, Missouri. While passing through Wyoming, the Party, instead of taking the traditional route along the Oregon Trail, followed the advice of Jim Bridger and took a “short cut,” which proved disastrous for the group. With cattle and oxen exhausted, the Party rejoined the traditional trail after a month’s delay.

The California Trail Research Topic

The California Trail Research Topic from ProQuest eLibrary

The most difficult part of the journey to California was the last 100 miles across the Sierra Nevada mountain range. October snow is not unusual in the Sierras, but there were a total of 10 major storms during the winter of 1846-1847. The late October storms covered the Sierra pass with more than 6 feet of snow. While the pioneers awaited the arrival of rescue teams, powerful storm systems continued to pound the mountains. According to diary entries, the peak snow depth reached between 15 to 20 feet. Of the 87 people who entered the Wasatch Mountains, 48 survived. Lurid details about what the Party did to survive began to leak out, and claims of cannibalism surfaced. The rest is history.

Search eLibrary for more Donner Party details and info on other Westward Expansion topics.

California Gold Rush                                                    Wild West (magazine)

Ghost Towns                                                                  Westward Expansion (topic search)

Transcontinental Railroad                                          Westward Routes (topic search)