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‘Little House’ in Albania

In a travel adventure that goes beyond the geographical boundaries of the prairies Laura Ingalls Wilder traversed as a young girl, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Assistant Professor of Magazine Media Kelly Ferguson started research for her next book about the Wilder family in Albania this summer.

“It’s been nice to explore and get out of Athens and go on a trip like this,” said Ferguson. “It’s beautiful here with the mountains and the Albanian Riviera.”

Ferguson’s book, “My Life as Laura: How I Searched for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Found Myself,” was published in 2011. It follows Ferguson as she donned a prairie dress and retraced the pioneer journey of her lifelong heroine, Laura Ingalls Wilder, from Wisconsin to Minnesota, South Dakota to Missouri and explored Wilder's past along with her own.  Now, Ferguson is starting work on another Wilder book, but this one is about Laura’s daughter, Rose.

On her travel blog, “Albaniac!” Ferguson writes, “In August 1926, Rose Wilder Lane—journalist, writer, and daughter of the not-yet-iconic children's author Laura Ingalls Wilder—moved to Albania with traveling companion Helen Boylston. Seventeen months later Lane received a telegram from her parents. On January 27, 1928, she left Albania for rural Missouri where she applied her determination and expertise to helping her mother write and publish the iconic ‘Little House’ books. That era of Lane's life and her role in creating the books had been well-covered by other historians, including Pulitzer Prize-winning Caroline Frasier. But let’s go back to Albania. Rose loved Albania so much that when she came down with malaria wrote that ‘even the malaria in Albania is superb.’ Why would a world adventurer such as Rose ever move back to her rural hometown she claimed to have loathed for so many years?”

Ferguson is working to answer that question with her trip to Albania. While retracing some of Rose’s steps during the two years she lived there, Ferguson is also exploring modern-day Albania.

“If Rose had not returned home, the ‘Little House’ books might not have existed. But this trip is more about experiencing Albania,” said Ferguson. “I have been able to re-hike Rose’s trip through the Albanian Alps, and I have been able to find a lot of other things she experienced. However, Albania has changed so much over the last 100 years, and that will be part of my book as well.”

Ferguson has been planning the trip for 15 years and spent one month in Albania (May 27 to June 27). She says the trip only affirmed for her that there is a great untold story to write about Rose.

“I’m very much an observational reporter. I need to experience a place to understand it,” said Ferguson. “The more I pull at Rose’s Albanian story, I realize there’s much more to find out.” 

In terms of unpacking who Rose Wilder Lane was as a person, Ferguson says the next step is to head to the Herbert Hoover Library in Des Moines, Iowa. That’s where Wilder Lane’s letters and diaries are kept.

At Ohio University, Ferguson teaches magazine feature writing and the News and Information Capstone, which produces an issue of “Southeast Ohio” magazine over the course of a single semester. You can learn more about Ferguson’s trip to Albania, and view photos and videos, by visiting her travel blog:

For more information on the Scripps College Communication, visit

July 9, 2024
Staff reports