Laura Ingalls Wilder, 70 when this photo was taken, remains one of the most popular children's authors in the world. In the famous "Little House" series, Wilder recounted her childhood on the midwestern frontier of the United States.
Photograph courtesy the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

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    On February 7, 1867, Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was born in Pepin County, Wisconsin. Ingalls would later describe her home in Wisconsin as the Little House in the Big Woods. The migration of the Ingalls family between Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakota Territory became the basis for Ingalls’ Little House series of eight children’s novels. 
    Ingalls, who later married farmer Almanzo Wilder and took his last name, wrote about her life as a young girl. Her books addressed responsibilities and social issues faced by white settlers as the U.S. expanded westward in the 19th century. Wilder wrote about tilling the rocky soil of a new farm, making maple syrup in winter, and living in an earthen “dugout” cabin. She did not shy away from uncomfortable topics for young readers. For instance, she wrote about her older sister contracting scarlet fever and going blind as a result. She also wrote that shortly after establishing a residence, the Ingalls family was forced from their land in Kansas—they had unintentionally been homesteading on the Osage reservation.
    The publication and popularity of the Little House books allowed the Wilders to enjoy financial security during the Great Depression. The novels have never been out of print.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    farmer Noun

    person who cultivates land and raises crops.

    financial Adjective

    having to do with money.

    Great Depression Noun

    (1929-1941) period of very low economic activity in the U.S. and throughout the world.

    homestead Noun

    area of land including a dwelling and any outbuildings, such as barns.

    maple syrup Noun

    sweet, thick liquid made from the sap of North America's sugar maple, black maple, or red maple trees.

    migration Noun

    movement of a group of people or animals from one place to another.

    novel Noun

    fictional narrative or story.

    Osage Noun

    people and culture native to what are today the U.S. states of Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.

    reservation Noun

    land in the U.S. reserved for the political, cultural, and physical use of Native American tribes and nations.

    residence Noun

    home or place where a person lives.

    scarlet fever Noun

    infectious, possibly fatal disease that occurs mainly in children, characterized by fever, rash, and sore throat.

    settler Noun

    person who migrates and establishes a residence in a largely unpopulated area.

    soil Noun

    top layer of the Earth's surface where plants can grow.

    till Verb

    to prepare the land for the planting and cultivation of crops.

    unintentional Adjective

    accidental, or not on purpose.