Fact-Checking Little House on the Prairie

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Several months ago, Maggie Koerth-Baker wrote about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s account of her family’s brush with a trio of serial-killer siblings and her decision to leave the gruesome tale out of her Little House on the Prairie books.

The details of Wilder’s story didn’t quite add up, which prompted Koerth-Baker to ask questions about the nature of childhood memories and the entire memoir genre.

Now Koerth-Baker is back with a post about meteorological records in 1880–1881, the years during which Wilder’s book The Long Winter takes place. Turns out she was more accurate here—and there’s a photo of terrifyingly massive snowdrifts to prove it.


Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →