Q: Which do you prefer, coffee or tea?
A: Trader Joe’s chai tea (with lots of honey)
Q: What are three words that describe you?
A: I’m a… joyful, gentle bookworm
Q: What is one random fact about you?
A: The Memorial Society is a 15 hour drive from the place where I grew up in central Michigan and about 13 hours from where I attend school at Hillsdale College in southern Michigan. So life on the Dakota prairies is a new thing for me! The only other time I’ve been out here was about twelve years ago when my family and I were doing our own whirlwind tour of the Laura sites. I was nine during that trip.
Q: What is your role at the Historic Homes (e.g. tour guide, director)?
A: I’m the summer intern! This summer, I will be on site giving tours, assisting in the gift shop, writing for the blog, and managing social media.
Q: How long have you been working at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society?
A: I just started work on the 25th of May. So I’m brand new around here.
Q: Which book in the Little House Series is your favorite? Why?
A: As a child, my favorite Little House book was On the Banks of Plum Creek, but I think that These Happy Golden Years is my current favorite. After all of the kitschy romantic comedies in theaters and cliché love triangles in today’s YA literature, it’s refreshing to read about Laura and Almanzo’s simple and adorable romance. I appreciate how patient and quiet Almanzo is during their courtship, even though Laura doesn’t seem to know what’s going on half the time.
Q: Which book about Laura’s life and legacy is your favorite? Why?
A: I took a class on Laura Ingalls Wilder at Hillsdale last semester, and, at the beginning of the class, my professor assigned to us Laura’s Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography edited by Pamela Smith Hill. If autobiographies count, I’d say my favorite book about Laura is Pioneer Girl because I loved hearing about Laura’s life in her own words. She truly is a talented writer, and some of her descriptive passages are absolutely stunning. If that doesn’t count, though, I’d say Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life by Pamela Smith Hill is my favorite. Hill talks a lot about Laura’s life after the events described in the books and also focuses on the inspiration for the series and the process of writing and editing that Laura went through. As an English major, I found the information about the writing process especially interesting.
Q: What projects are you excited about working on right now?
A: I’m in charge of the Memorial Society blog this summer, and I have enjoyed brainstorming topics and themes to write about. Right now, I’m most excited about a set of Little House birthday-themed blog posts that I’m putting together as celebration for Laura’s 150th birthday next February. I’m also working on a series of posts exploring the literature of the Little House books. I’ve been in contact with my professor back at Hillsdale College who taught my class on Wilder, and I’ve enjoyed consulting with her.
Q: Which of the historic buildings on the Historic Homes Tour is your favorite? Why?
A: It’s a close tie between the Surveyors’ House and the Ingalls Home, but I think I have to go with the Ingalls Home. I always enjoy giving that part of the tour because the information I get to share is not stuff that people would know from just reading the Little House series. In fact, I didn’t know most of the information that I share in that house before coming here. I also like the house because it makes me happy for Ma to think that she was able to end her life in such a nice place after having to live in shanties and dugouts for so many years. As a whole, the house really is beautiful. I especially like the cupboards in the kitchen that Pa built for Ma.
Q: If you were giving a tour of the Historic Homes and only had time to show visitors two artifacts, which two would they be?
A: I’d probably show them the chest of drawers upstairs in the Surveyors’ House first. I like that artifact a lot because it was actually owned by the Ingalls family. Also, it’s kind of tucked away, so it’s not something that someone would really notice on their own.
I guess the other artifact-like thing that I’d really want to show people would be the chalk drawings on the wall in the First School of De Smet. I just think it’s so cool that the chalkboards are still there—even though the people who used the building as a residence changed the building a lot and even put wallpaper over the chalkboards. Finding those chalkboards and the drawings on them behind the wallpaper was probably like unearthing a dinosaur fossil during an archaeological dig. I would have loved to have been there when they found them.
Q: How does Laura or Laura’s legacy inspire you?
A: I am really inspired by how much Laura valued her family—especially her parents—and the way her legacy reminds all of us to make the most of the little things in life. Reading her books again as a twenty-one year-old helped me to recognize how rare and beautiful Laura’s strong family relationships are. Seeing how much influence her parents had on her development as an individual reminds me how important it is for us to encourage parents as they raise their children and to help families thrive. Also, her books help me remember to appreciate the everyday things of life, even though they might seem mundane. As Laura’s own stories show, there are treasures to be found in even the simplest of moments.