About This Unit Study

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) lived through a transformative time in American history. She lived during the administrations of 17 U.S. presidents, from Andrew Johnson to Dwight D. Eisenhower. Her uncles served in the military during the Civil War, and she lived through the Korean War. She traveled in a covered wagon as a child, flew on an airplane, and died the same year Sputnik began orbiting the earth. The photos above show Laura about 1879, 1887, 1911, and 1930.

This unit study will help you explore the life and times of a woman who shared stories that have touched many millions of lives. Whether you are a long-time fan or a newbie, there’s something for you. If you’ve read all of her books or watched every episode of the Little House on the Prairie TV show, or both or neither, this guide will show you the real Laura Ingalls Wilder, the places she lived, and the people she loved.

Here are some of the topics covered:

  • the Ingalls family (Pa’s side) and the Quiner family (Ma’s side) and how they met in Wisconsin
  • the Civil War and how that affected the Ingalls and Quiners
  • the Wilder family, whose son Almanzo would grow up to marry Laura
  • Laura's experiences growing up in Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota
  • what happened to Laura and Almanzo and their family members after the timeline of the Little House books
  • the songs Laura talks about in her books
  • resources for digging deeper into 19th-century food, clothing, homesteading, and other aspects of daily life

We hope you enjoy this journey through the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder and discover something about yourself and your own American story in the process.

Let's get started with a five-minute overview of Laura's life that will give you a framework as we add details in the coming sections.

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