This American Life Radio Show


While searching for an image a few weeks ago, I accidentally pulled up the archive of This American Life out of WBEZ Chicago and their description of their August 20, 1999 episode (#137). The show has a theme each week and then presents four profile-type news stories that relate to the theme. The theme for this particular episode was “The Book That Changed Your Life.” In Act 4 “Little Sod Houses for You and Me,” Writer Meghan Daum goes to De Smet, South Dakota and finds it to be remarkably similar to what Meghan had pictured before she went: the people seem like they are genuinely trying to hold on to the values Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about in her books. (15 minutes)

This time capsule from 1999 features interviews with Tim and Joan Sullivan and Marian Cramer among others. While some things have changed, (in 1999 the pageant was still mimed to a tape recording) it gives a good feeling for what a visit to De Smet is like.

You may stream the audio of the show here:

To find this story scroll down about a third of the way down the page or to Act 4 to the correct story. Or, for about a dollar, you may download from or I ordered it as a CD which comes in what looks like a classic record sleeve and is very cool.

WARNING: The De Smet Pageant story is in Act 4 of the show. While I also enjoyed Act 1 about Moss Hart’s autobiography and Act 3 about collecting Lewis and Clark books, Act 2 is about “David Sedaris describes what happens when he finds a dirty book in the woods and shares it with his sisters.” I got about minute in and decided I didn’t really care to hear any more of this story. The story is also published in the author’s book Naked.

UPDATED March 22 2017: I added the photo of their logo, my signature block, doublechecked the links and made a couple of minor edits to the text.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving 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. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,  LinkedIn, and Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.


Laura Ingalls Wilder Road

I crossed off another minor Laura site off my list of places to visit this weekend. On the way to a conference near Chicago, my mother and I stopped at St. Charles, IL and tracked down Laura Ingalls Wilder Road. It’s the only road not in one of the homesite towns or part of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway that I’ve found named after Laura. Does anyone know of any others? If you want to find it also, it’s right off LaFox Road. It’s the first road as you enter the housing development by the first entrance, near the old farmstead on the hill. Happy hunting!


Seeking Laura Letters

The Seeking Laura Ingalls Wilder Letters project is beginning to pick up a little steam. The press release appeared in Involvement the newsletter of the Heritage Agency on Aging and I did interviews this week with both the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Iowa City Press-Citizen that should appear in the next couple of weeks. Keep the momentum rolling, please pass the word on to someone you know today!


New System: Introducing the Book Video

This came across one of my library listservs and it’s too funny not to share. The original is in Norwegian, so you don’t need the sound. The English closed captioning is on the top and the Norwegian closed captioning is on the bottom.


Sorry the owner pulled this video.

Continuing Class at Senior Center

This week, despite the Long Winter like weather, I had the first session in my new class down at the Iowa City Senior Center. It’s the first time I’ve done a continuing class on Laura (3 sessions) and I think it started off real well. They’ve already invited me back to do another class during the summer, so keep your eyes out for it.


National One-Room School Conference

The Country School Association of America is hosting its 8th annual conference. I’ve spoken at the majority of these. In the future, they hope to rotate every other year between the Midwest and another part of the country. This year’s is in New England.

Country School Association of AmericaBlackwell History of Education Museum

Learning Center, Gabel Hall

Northern Illinois University

DeKalb, IL 60115

Invites you to participate in or attend the:


Country School Association Conference

June 18th-20th, 2007

Rivier College

Nashua, New Hampshire 03060

Presenting workshops relating to the preservation history, and

appreciation of one-room schools…, interpretation,

Enjoy a tour of 5 beautifully preserved one-room schoolhouses!

Visit our e-newsletter for further details: Or contact Conference Coordinator <> today!It’s a great conference.


First Post

Welcome to My First Post. I must say that I’m inspired by the wonderful blog (The Editor’s Notebook) that Sandra Oliver keeps on and borrowed the idea of my name from her. I hope to use this for updating information and new discoveries. I’m going to aim for updating once a week, but I have several pieces of news saved up and it will probably be a few more than that at first.

Sarah S. Uthoff