Presents for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Fan in Your Life

I’ve recently been listening to Alison Arngrim read the “Little House” series on her facebook page. (Want to learn more? This is my interview with Alison.) I’ve been really surprised by the fans reactions. It seems like there are a lot of people who care about “Little House” books, TV, real life, etc. versions that apparently didn’t know that you can buy “Laura stuff.” They’re estatic that you can buy bonnets, tin cups, etc. I thought this might be a great time to make sure everyone realized some of the Laura basics that are available.

So you’re looking for an “eyes nearly popped right out of their head” present for the Laura Ingalls Wilder fan in your life? I’m going to assume that they don’t have a large Laura collection already. There are many more possibilities, but if you have no clue here are a few to get you started.

Homesites

The term Laura fans use for the places Laura Ingalls Wilder lived is homesites. It’s sometimes used to mean the entire town for each place Laura lived, sometimes it is used to mean the exact museum. Each museum has a giftship. The museums are NOT regularly funded by the Wilder estate. The museums are NOT funded by their states. So the museums depend on their financial existance for admission fees and giftshop sales. If you want the museums to be there when you can visit them, support them now! Find links, phone numbers, etc. on this homesite list.

Collect at the Beginning

  • Sarah and Books 2
  • First up, do they have a complete set of the books yet? If not, a set of their own is a great place to start. The three most common editions currently available are:
  • hardback
  • full color illustration paperback
  • and pencil drawing illustration paperbacks. (Note that the full color illustrations do no have all the illustrations shown in the pencil illustration versions in the later books of the series.) They are also available on Kindle as ebooks. You can also find them as audiobooks on CD and as digital downloads as read by Tony winning actress Cherry Jones.

Books About Laura

Second, interest in Laura is wide spread enough to support many books about Laura and her life. Here are some suggestions.

  • Prairie Girl by William T. Anderson – an 80 page introduction to Laura’s life
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography by William T. Anderson – a 256 page version of Laura’s life without footnotes, written at a jr. high/high school level, but very approachable for adults as well
  • Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder by John E. Miller – the best scholarly biography on Laura, “choked with facts” and a treat for any devoted Laura fan
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life by Pamela Smith Hill – more of a literary analysis than biography this biography from the South Dakota State Historical Society provides an in depth analysis of Laura’s writing
  • Pioneer Girl, Edited by Pamela Smith Hill – is an annotated version of the draft Laura wrote when she was first trying to get her story told. It’s in the first person and frankly it’s pretty obvious why everyone turned it down. Remember though it was written for an audience as a memoir – meaning it’s not necessarily 100% accurate.

Feel a Part of Her World

Third, there are books that help you feel more a part of Laura’s world. These are just the most basic for any collection. There are many other books that you might get depending on what part of Laura-dom you’re interested in.

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Country by William T. Anderson and Leslie Kelly – photographs of Laura Ingalls Wilder  homesites around the country
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook by Eugenia Garson – a collection of sheet music to songs in the “Little House” books with notations where they appear in the books
  • Little House Cookbook by Barbara Walker – a collection of historic recipes as made in the books

Things from the Books

Fourth, get them a replica of something out of the books.

Many young Laura fans start a Laura collection with a bonnet and/or apron. Although you might be able to make your own or from a local source the homesite gift shops also sell them.

Charlotte Doll – This one is from the De Smet Memorial Society.

In a very memorable scene in the first book of the series, Little House in the Big Woods, Laura gets her first rag doll for Christmas. In the books, she is called Charlotte. Every homesite gift shop sells their own version of ragdoll Charlotte. These versions look very different check out the homesite giftshops to see photos and pick the one you want.

Also, in that first book, Ma receives a china shepherdess figurine. In all of the rest of the books, a house truly becomes a home once Ma puts out the china shepherdess.

Independence Shepherdess – Photo courtesy of Little House on the Prairie Museum
China Replica
Mansfield Shepherdess – Photo courtesy of Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum

There are three replica versions of this figurine available for sale right now.
Walnut Grove, Minnesota’s looks the most like the version used on the TV show, but it is made of resin, not china. Currently they also sell versions at Independence and Mansfield.

Walnut Grove version of the china shepherdess

Ingalls Homestead tells me that their biggest seller is a tin cup. Laura and Mary each got a tin cup for Christmas the year they were in Independence, Kansas. Again you can get these at any homesite giftshop. They are close, but decorations differ. Look for photos in the homesite online stores.

Laura’s faithful companion through the first half of the series is her faithful bulldog Jack. Most of the homesites have at least one (and in some cases many) stuffed versions of her faithful friend for you to cuddle with.

A final touch of the books might be a recording of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s voice. Laura Ingalls Wilder Speaks is a CD with the only known recording of Laura’s voice and Pa’s real fiddle playing music. Laura reads a thank-you letter to school children in California as an older woman, but it’s our Laura’s voice. There are a number of Laura music CDs brought out by different artists and groups. This is the only one with Pa’s real fiddle so that you can really hear it. Of all the Laura music CDs I own my other favorite is a Tribute to Charles “Pa” Ingalls. It also features Pa’s real fiddle accompanied by, apparently, the world’s first bluegrass symphony orchestra. Other fans prefer other recordings see them listed in the online stores.

Fifth, a gift that keeps on giving. If your Laura fan isn’t a member in the organizations that support Laura yet, each homesite has its own fan membership and the group that offers gift memberships. (Most of the time I was growing up my mother bought me one life membership in a different Laura organization each year for Christmas.)

Jack in a tank

Sources

While you can get many of these Laura based presents from multiple sources (unless otherwise noted), we urge you when possible to shop at Laura homesite museums. These museums dedicated to Laura get no regular backing from her estate and rely on admissions, donations, and gift shop sales to stay open for us to visit and preserve Laura’s legacy. Find links to their websites, phone numbers, etc. on this homesite list.

An earlier version of this post appeared on Beyond Little House.

More Suggestions

Every year at Christmas time I put together a post of new things the homesites are offering. Check out my previous posts. Most of the presents that I suggested in 2011 2012 , 2013 , 2014 , 2015 , 2016,  2017,  2018 , and 2019 are still available so take a look at previous shopping posts for more ideas.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help?  Attend one of her programs,  schedule one  yourself,  watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at her photos, and find her  on   Facebook ,   Twitter ,     LinkedIn ,     SlideShare,   and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Wilder Zooms Backgrounds Release 2

If you’ve been Zooming (and many, many people have) and you want to shake it up try replacing your background. There have been places offering new backgrounds for you to select to add to your system. You can select multiple photos to add. If you want to add your own, you want horizontal photos which have an image you will look the right size in. Having other people in the images really makes it look not real, so look for photos without them.

In the meantime try out these Laura themed backgrounds in Spring Valley, Ingalls Homestead, Silver Lake, Walnut Grove, and Mansfield.

Wilder Barn Spring Valley

Wilder Barn in Spring Valley

 

Horses and Wagon at Ingalls Homestead

Horses and Covered Wagon
Horses and Covered Wagon at Ingalls Homestead

Silver Lake

Blue lake with a tree and grass on shore
Silver Lake October 2018

Walnut Grove Museum

A sign in front of the red Depot museum.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Depot in Walnut Grove

Plum Creek

Plum Creek at Eye Level
Plum Creek at Eye Level

Mansfield, Missouri

Rocky Ridge in Black and White

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos,   listen to her podcast,    look at her photos, and find her on Facebook ,   Twitter ,   LinkedIn ,   SlideShare,   and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Top 10 Posts During April 2020

Sarah in front of Ma’s House

Here are the blog posts and pages that have had the most views last month. Take a look maybe there is something there that will interest you, too.

Wilder Zooms Backgrounds Release 1

The De Smet News Closes Down

Schedule of Presentations

Apples ‘n’ Onions with Bacon and Fried Potatoes

Laura Ingalls Wilder Paper Dolls from Cottage Chronicles

Guiding Light – Cancellation and Michelle and Danny

May the Fourth Star Wars Day 2020

Do you want to feel good or do you want to help?

Red Chief Tablets

Images Of The Past: Carrie Ingalls Swanzey

In the Kitchen With Laura Project February 2014

In the Kitchen With Laura Cambric Tea

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help?  Attend one of her programs,  schedule one  yourself,  watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at her photos, and find her  on   Facebook ,   Twitter ,     LinkedIn ,     SlideShare,   and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Plowing By Oxen

Sharing again how many acres you could plow by day with a team of oxen.

Sarah's Notebook

1846-PioneerI often hear questions about things like how long it would take Pa to plow a field with oxen. Here’s an estimate by a living historian:

“My much less qualified estimate is : as much a 2 acres a day would be possible given the good conditions you describe, and assuming the plow was well designed, well made, and adjusted right.  As a general rule of thumb: oxen can walk around 2 mph without undo exertion.  When you plow an acre, you walk about 9 miles.  2 acres = 18 miles at 2 mph  = 9 hours, if my math is right. Wayne Randall’s estimate of 1 acre per day is probably  a more accurate rule of thumb.” – Barb Corson

UPDATED May 9 2020: I made the image bigger and put the quote into italics. Then I added my signature block.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura…

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Mentions April 2020

Sarah in Pampas
Sarah in Pampas

I haven’t had a mentions post for awhile. I use them to share publication either by or about me. Today’s post is for an interview I did with GetTV. GetTV is a channel that broadcast channels on one of the extra channels. It has a great slate of Westerns on Sunday including Hawkeye.

Somehow I missed it when it was on which is a shame. It stars Lee Horsley and Lynda Carter. The story is based on The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenmore Cooper. It’s set in 1755 in the Hudson Valley where there is a battle of 5 armies, the British and French Empires, both of their Native American allies, plus the American settlers. The show establishes each group so seperately to an extent that in the episode where the lead Native American character disguises himself as one of the Native Americans supporting the French you can actually tell that he’s dressed as the other tribe. It’s really impressive. They even show how long it takes to reload a gun then. Plus it was shot on location and the locations are gorgeous. I highly recommend it. Give it a try.

GetTV staff. “GetTV Talks Hawkeye with Sarah Uthoff.” GetTV, 27 April 2020, https://www.get.tv/gettv-blog/gettv-talks-hawkeye-sarah-uthoff. Accessed 30 April 2020.

(The date is accurate, but is not on the page itself.)

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help?  Attend one of her programs,  schedule one  yourself,  watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at her photos, and find her  on   Facebook ,   Twitter ,     LinkedIn ,     SlideShare,   and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

 

May the Fourth Star Wars Day 2020

This is me and Darth Vader courtesy of our local Drug Town about the time of Return of the Jedi.

Me and Darth
Me and Darth

This has been the first year that Galaxy’s Edge is a thing at both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios. Last year both locations opened with only one of two major E-ticket rides up and running. Then did have two experiences building a droid and building a lightsaber which were both very popular and very expensive. There were also themed food oppportunities including blue milk. (Now I’ve watched the Star Wars movies since I was a kid and it wasn’t until I made some online connections that I found out blue milk was a big deal, but if you don’t know in the 1st movie, Star Wars: A New Hope, they have a family meal and they drink milk that is dyed blue. I don’t think it’s that noticable I mean it isn’t bright tourquoise or something, but apparently to people who are big fans, it’s a BIG deal.)

Us and Chewie in Star Wars Bay

During Summer 2019, I wish I could have gone because crowds were extremely low. Some of this was because of good planning and some was that there had always been a surge when something Star Wars was added before (we were caught in one such surge when we took a trip in 2015). So people expected it this time and non-Star Wars fans scheduled around it (again including us we went in early February 2019 deliberately chose before it opened hoping to hit a dip in crowds – we totally didn’t).

While Smuggler’s Run offered an opportunity to fly the Millennium Falcon which was awesome, but very close in structure to Star Tours and that was the only ride. Plus, the one adventure offered in Smuggler’s Run was focused on the spin-off Han Solo movie that did so poorly that it lead to the cancellation of several other spin-offs in production. So word was all that summer and beyond that the best part of Galaxy’s Edge was crying over seeing the Millenium Falcon and an X-Wing fighter in real life. Other than that going to see a place that was not any place you wanted to be in the Star Wars universe was disappointing.

Sarah and Kylo Ren Prepare to Rule the Universe

Then the second E-ticket ride rolled out….

And I think almost every single review I read online (there were many others who probably differed) thought that Rise of the Resistance was the best Disney ride/experience that they have done to date. With a bunch of different experiences used well it really seems to make you feel that you are in the Star Wars adventure. The most impressive thing I’ve heard people say is you go in and out the same door in different places like the shuttle actually moved and it wasn’t just shaking. I haven’t been on it, but here’s a full ride through of the experience. You can find many more versions on line if you look.

And with that a final Star Wars Day reminder. “I love you more than Star Wars.”

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos,   listen to her podcast,    look at her photos, and find her on Facebook ,   Twitter ,   LinkedIn ,   SlideShare,   and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Road Work History

An everyday object from road construction past.

Sarah's Notebook

A circle of rope. Rope Circle

Summer is here and that means road work season is underway. They are going to be working on one of the major arteries between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids and it includes a section where they have to go down to one lane for a long section of road. Today they use “Follow Me” cars or radios to be able to let the road crews know when you can flip the signs to give each direction a turn.

At our family meal for Mother’s Day my cousins were talking about how they did this before these technologies developed. They had a pretty simple solution. The last car that was let through on one end would be handed a rope ring, similar to the one in the photo. That car would hand it back to the worker on the other end who would let another group of cars through…

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