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Gwen Tuinman

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pioneers

Women of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House”

Among my favourite girlhood books was the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Late 1800s pioneer life captivated me. Kathryn Adam, a scholar in midwestern women’s history and literature, regards Wilder’s female characters as historical resources that reveal “role expectations and feelings of western women”.

In her essay, Laura, Ma, Mary, Carrie, and Grace: Western Women as Portrayed by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Adam says that Wilder shows us “women engaged in the rigors of homesteading, women building community and culture on the frontier, women working to preserve the family in the face of bitter adversity (…) in a series of vividly realized frontier landscapes.”

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Harvesting Hay by Hand

A large part of writing life is spent researching information that, when woven into a story, creates a believable world that readers will enjoy spending time in. This process is immensely enjoyable to me. Currently, I’m writing about characters who are wintering a horse and a few goats in the early 1900s. The livestock will require hay. Since the people have no access to mowing equipment, I’m learning about how they would have harvested hay by hand. I really enjoyed these videos and I hope you will too.

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Pioneer Illnesses: Catarrh and Ague

I’ve nearly worn out my DVD box set of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman from having watched it so often. Dr. Michaela Quinn had the cure for almost everything and often sought the council of her First Nation Cheyenne friends who taught her about medicinal plants growing in the wilds. Episodes often mentioned people suffering a catarrh or ague. These terms appear in a number of pioneer journals as well and I’ve always been curious about their meaning.

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