Preview | Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Page - Laura Ingalls Wilder documentary and trailer

American Masters Explores the Cultural Legacy and Complicated History of Author Laura Ingalls Wilder in a New Documentary Premiering December 29 at 8 p.m. on PBS

 This year marks the 85th anniversary of the publication of “Little House on the Prairie”

Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Page presents an unvarnished look at the unlikely author whose autobiographical fiction helped shape American ideas of the frontier and self-reliance. A Midwestern farm woman who published her first novel at age 65, Laura Ingalls Wilder transformed her frontier childhood into the best-selling “Little House” series. The documentary delves into the legacy of the iconic pioneer as well as the way she transformed her early life into enduring legend, a process that involved a little-known collaboration with her daughter Rose. Directed and produced by Emmy® Award winner Mary McDonagh Murphy (Harper Lee: American Masters), Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Page premieres nationwide Tuesday, December 29 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video app. This year marks the 85th anniversary of the publication of “Little House on the Prairie” (1935).

Featuring never-before-published letters, photographs and family artifacts, the film explores the context in which Wilder lived and wrote, as well as the true nature of her personality. The film includes original interviews with Caroline Fraser, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her Wilder biography; Pamela Smith Hill, author of “Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life” and editor of Wilder’s New York Times bestselling memoir; Wilder historian William Anderson; authors such as Louise Erdrich, Roxane Gay, Lizzie Skurnick and Linda Sue Park; and actors from the beloved TV series Little House on the Prairie, including Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls Wilder), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson) and Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder). Historians, scholars and fans provide additional perspectives on Wilder’s life and legacy.

Wilder has an enduring fanbase — including self-proclaimed Bonnetheads — and the books and TV program loosely based on them have become cultural touchstones. Starting with “Little House in the Big Woods” (1932), the books chronicle the adventures of a family struggling to survive on the American frontier and have inspired four generations with the courage and determination of their heroine. Though Wilder’s stories emphasized real life and celebrated stoicism, she omitted the grimmer and contradictory details of her personal history: grinding poverty, government assistance, deprivation and the death of her infant son. In recent years, Wilder’s racist depictions of American Indians and Black people have stirred controversy, and made her less appealing to some readers, teachers and librarians. Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Page reveals the truth behind the bestsellers, exploring a rags to riches story that has been embraced by millions of people worldwide.

Now in its 34th season on PBS, American Masters illuminates the lives and creative journeys of our nation’s most enduring artistic giants — those who have left an indelible impression on our cultural landscape. Setting the standard for documentary film profiles, the series has earned widespread critical acclaim and 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 14 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. To further explore the lives and works of more than 200 masters past and present, the American Masters website offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the American Masters Podcast, educational resources and more. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET.

Funding Credits Print

Major funding for Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Page is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Doug and Carole Baker Sr., and the Julie and Doug Baker Jr. Foundation.

Support for American Masters is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AARP, Rosalind P. Walter, Seton J. Melvin, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family Foundation, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers.

About WNET and Twin Cities PBS Print

About WNET
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station: parent company of New York’s THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its new ALL ARTS multi-platform initiative, its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each month. WNET produces and presents a wide range of acclaimed PBS series, including Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, and the nightly interview program Amanpour and Company. In addition, WNET produces numerous documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings, as well as multi-platform initiatives addressing poverty and climate. Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere.

About Twin Cities PBS
Twin Cities PBS (TPT), the PBS affiliate for Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, is a prominent content producer for the national public television system. TPT’s most recent documentaries for PBS include Going to War, The Dictator’s Playbook, and When Whales Walked: Journeys in Deep Time. Other films include the Emmy Award-winning The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s, Peabody Award recipient Depression: Out of the Shadows, and 2012 Sundance Film Festival selection Slavery by Another Name. TPT co-produced the classic feature documentary Hoop Dreams, a Peabody and Sundance Film Festival winner. More information at www.tpt.org/national.

Production Credits Print

American Masters: Laura Ingalls Wilder is a production of the award-winning National Productions group at Twin Cities Public Television and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. Mary McDonagh Murphy is director and producer. Christopher Czajka is associate producer. Michael Kantor is executive producer of American Masters. Michael Rosenfeld is executive producer for Twin Cities Public Television.