First Lady Laura Bush should be coming to Mansfield today (October 3, 2008). I’m so glad that she is taking this opportunity while she is still in office to highlight the Wilder museum at Mansfield. I have often thought that it was an underused function of the bully pulpit of high office to highlight museums, historic sites, and libraries around the country and Mansfield certainly deserves it. Neither the White House or the museum seems to be giving much information and I’m certain Mrs. Bush will not have too much time for touring, but the publicity should be priceless. Mrs. Bush has long held Wilder is one of her favorite authors and even organized a White House conference that included Wilder as one of three great women authors of the west. The conference was one in a series of literary conferences which I hope will remain as a lasting record of her good work.
Check out these great photos from the White House Archive.
Here’s the transcript of her speech.
Read more about the White House Conference on wilder Laura Bush sponsored.
I haven’t seen Mrs. Bush in person, but I did get to hear former First Lady Rosalyn Carter talk when she came to Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. I was there with a school group and we had to be sitting in the auditorium before Mrs. Carter even touched down at the airport. Then we had to wait while she toured the exhibits, but she had to hurry. Mrs. Bush doesn’t seem to have any kind of speech scheduled which may free up her schedule some, but she was in North Dakota yesterday and planned to be in Mansfield by noon and someplace else tomorrow, so I doubt she will have too much time. She will probably only get to look at the house and museum and not the many auxilary sites around (the school named for the Laura, the family graves, etc.). However, I hope she enjoys her trip and gets to come back sometime when security and schedule will be less of an issue.
I always tell people that Mansfield is where you go if you want to see Wilder stuff. You can even be sure of hearing Pa’s fiddle in September at Wilder Days. Follow Mrs. Bush’s example and head to southern Missouri, just an hour north of Branson, too.
UPDATED October 29 2018: I added my signature block. I don’t have a lot to add. The trip went well. The visit produced some great photos and we in Laura fandom appreciate the publicity. I added links to the photos and transcript of the visit and to a page about the White House conference. I also put in one of my late 1990s photos of Mansfield.
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 , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.