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Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Pioneer Girl’ to be published with help from donors

The release of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” is coming soon, and the South Dakota State Historical Society continues to rely on the support of donors to make the dream a reality.

“We gratefully recognize the support of our Pioneer Level donors, those who donated $10,000 or more -- Great Plains Education Foundation, Inc.; Dennis and Carol Anderson; De Smet Farm Mutual Insurance Company of South Dakota; BankWest, Inc.; Canadian Pacific Railway Company; and NorthWestern Energy,” said Jay D. Vogt, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society. “Their acknowledgment of the importance of the Pioneer Girl Project has allowed us to conduct thorough research on Wilder’s writing and to bring ‘Pioneer Girl’ to a national and international audience.”

Hidden away since 1930, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s original autobiography reveals the true stories of her pioneering life, and “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” shows how Wilder, as an author of growing skill, transformed her girlhood into one of the greatest children’s series of all time, the Little House books. Some parts of “Pioneer Girl” will be familiar; some will be a surprise. With the help of donors at the Pioneer Level and other levels, people around the world will be able to read it all for the first time.

“‘Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography’ is a complex publishing project,” said Nancy Tystad Koupal, director of the Pioneer Girl Project and the South Dakota Historical Society Press. “Extensive research has gone into exploring Wilder’s handwritten rough draft and the subsequent versions edited by her daughter. We’ve also studied Wilder’s life and the times that she wrote about—from homesteading in Kansas and Minnesota to the building of the railroad in Dakota Territory.”

Research in census data, newspapers, county documents, and land records of the 1870s and 1880s was an important component of the Pioneer Girl Project, making it possible to annotate and explain the context of “Pioneer Girl” to a modern audience. With each new discovery in Wilder’s text, countless hours have been spent searching for documentation and additional information about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s world.

“The annotated edition of Wilder’s original autobiography will be an invaluable resource to scholars of this time period, adding depth to our understanding of the experiences of early pioneer women. It will be cherished by those who grew up reading Wilder’s books, as well,” said Michael Lewis, president of the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, the society’s nonprofit financial partner. “The undertaking is an enormous one, and without our Pioneer Level donors and the continued support of other individuals and organizations, the compilation and publication of this volume would not be taking place.”

More information about the Pioneer Girl Project can be found at pioneergirlproject.org or by contacting the South Dakota Historical Society Press at (605) 773-6009 or info@sdshspress.com. To donate, please contact the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation at (605) 773-3458 or info@sdhsf.org. Donations can also be made on the foundation website at http://www.sdhsf.org/special_projects/pioneer.html. To pre-order “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography,” email orders@sdshspress.com or call 605-773-6009.