Mapping Pioneer Girl

There are many tasks associated with producing a book such as Pioneer Girl. Some are obvious: getting the words written and checked, for instance. But others might not seem so apparent at first glance.

One of those less-obvious tasks is that of preparing the information needed by the mapmaker. There are many places, towns, trails, and areas covered in Wilder’s autobiography, and we think it is important to help readers know where they are as they follow her story. As such, we’re working with high-quality mapmakers to ensure that we get a useable and helpful series of maps. But mapmakers cannot be expected to simply guess what needs to be on the maps they are preparing. We must give them the names of the places and towns and so on that should be included. They also need historical base-maps from which to build these new maps.

We’ve been scouring through the manuscript, highlighting any geographical term that might be important or useful to a reader. Then we start searching for original maps from the era in question that will provide us with the markers/locators for the modern mapmakers. We scan and photocopy any and all useful material, add a thesaurus of places, rivers, boundaries, and so on, and package it all up and send it off to the mapmaker.

When the final maps appear in the published book, most of us will enjoy them but perhaps not consider how they got to be there in the first place given that no single, original map could provide everything necessary. We won’t be disappointed; we’ll just be pleased that the maps make enjoying Pioneer Girl all the easier.

Martyn Beeny

6 thoughts on “Mapping Pioneer Girl

  1. wow! this sounds so wonderful ! its truly amazing how many folks are in tune with Lauras autobio. Just seeing the maps and pics from her life will astound her fans on places she lived in, the things she did and saw etc. Thank u all for bringing her even closer to reality! I plan to buy Pioneer Girl!

  2. I love maps! And geography! This post is making me even more excited to read Pioneer Girl next summer. Thank you for the reminder of how much work goes into writing (this) books. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Thanks, Shannon and Teresa. Yes, there really is a ton of work that goes into making a book…much of it hidden to the reader. At the same time, it is a lot of fun to trawl through the words and find the things that a map needs in order to make it work.

  4. Great idea to include this (maps)! I, too, include maps in my own biographical history books I am preparing abt. Laura and her entire family. The Ingalls-Wilder-Lane Signature Series, A Family Collection. I cover every single ground, all the properties that the family lived, including the real land deeds and records, tax records, and so forth…if YOU need any assistance, I am here to help you and offer to you what I have. I have been researching and collecting this material for the last 20+ years, and have created a Library & Museum of every single thing I could ever find pertaining to Laura, Rose, and ALL of their ancestory. One would be amazed at what I house here at my home, which will one day be housed at the ROSE WILDER LANE HOME MUSEUM in Harlingen, Texas. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to this outstanding project! -John Bass (Shreveport, LA)

  5. I am so excited to hear about this project. If it takes a little longer to make it right and correct, then I am all about waiting for the good stuff. I absolutely love Laura and her family. It is so entertaining to read or watch what happened in those pioneer days. I say we would all be better off living like they did. Make it simple. (Thats how much I love this stuff) Melinda Kampert

  6. Pingback: Following the Trail of Wilder | The Pioneer Girl Project

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