Forgot to mention in my post yesterday on the sesquicentenary of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birth a fascinating blog post by Nancy Tystad Koupal, published two days ago on the website for the Pioneer Girl Project and entitled “Some Things I Learned While Editing Pioneer Girl Perspectives.” Of the things Koupal mentions, the one I’m most curious about is the fact that “Rose Wilder Lane had an FBI file.”
What kind of information was in that file? Perhaps we’ll find out when Koupal’s collection of essays, Pioneer Girl Perspectives, is published this spring by South Dakota Historical Society Press.
The FBI File was one of the things Dwight Miller collected in his Herculean effort to discover all he could related to Laura and Rose around the country and get copies from other archives to deposit in the Hoover. It isn’t terribly interesting. The vast majority of it was the fact that Rose wrote a complaint about Social Security and a rather officious postal official sent a police officer to check into it which he really had no authority to do. Rose was outraged that her mail was being censored and wrote a pamphlet called by the great title “What is this the Gestapo?” It was distributed across the country and reported on favorably in several newspapers. Many people across the country dutifully reported this “dangerous and subversive” action and I think J. Edgar Hoover – or more likely his secretary – thoroughly wished the post official to take a long walk off a short peer because there are lots of mostly identical letters that they had to send in response to these reports. Copies of those letters and the responses are the bulk of the file as I remember. It’s been a few years and as I was copying my way through I could just hear their groans in my head as more reports of it came in.
Sarah S. Uthoff