As I sit down to bring readers up to date concerning our progress, I am reminded of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s first mitten-knitting experience. “Taking great pains, with much hard work for days, I finished one mitten,” she wrote in Pioneer Girl. “Then I wanted to stop, but Ma said, one must always finish what she began.”1 And so it is here at the Pioneer Girl Project as we strive to finish what we have begun. I am pleased to report that after many years of hard work Pioneer Girl: The Revised Texts is now at the printer. The South Dakota Historical Society Press will release it this coming October. Since my retirement as the director of the Press, I have been able to concentrate on this book, which we began in 2013, and bring it to a close. Unlike Wilder, however, I have enjoyed knitting this mitten, as it were, and am already happily clacking the needles as the Pioneer Girl Project’s next volume, Pioneer Girl: The Path into Fiction, takes shape. This fourth book concentrates on the next phase of Wilder’s career, the writing of her first novel, Little House in the Big Woods (1932). It is scheduled for release in late 2022, ninety years after publication of Big Woods.
Once again, we asked watercolorist Judy Thompson to create an original work of art for the cover of Pioneer Girl: The Revised Texts. Her work, titled “Dakota Twilight,” captures the beauty and soft colors of the prairie at twilight as Grace, Mary, Carrie, and Laura Ingalls return from a walk along the Big Slough. Ordering information for the new book will be available in the next few weeks.
Nancy Tystad Koupal
- Wilder, Pioneer Girl: The Revised Texts, ed. Nancy Tystad Koupal, et al. (Pierre: South Dakota Historical Society Press, forthcoming 2021), p. 38.