Book Expo America 2014 Recap, “Little Booth, Gigantic Books”


This year the South Dakota Historical Society Press had the opportunity to exhibit at the largest annual book trade fair in the United States. Located in New York City at the Javits Center for 2014, Book Expo America (BEA) brings in thousands of business professionals every year to meet, listen to panels, and find the next “big book.” And, this year, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography was one of them. As Claire Kirch stated in her article, “Little Booth, Gigantic Books,” for Publishers Weekly, “Even with all the celebrity authors wandering around Javits, it’s impossible to overlook two monumental South Dakota Historical Society Press books about larger-than-life subjects: Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Love Letters from Mount Rushmore.”  She went on to say, “Even though Wilder wrote during the 1930s Great Depression, readers can still relate to her life story.”

Kirch was not the only BEA affiliate to understand that Wilder’s relevance has not faded. We spent three busy days talking with distributors, librarians, reviewers, bloggers, and other “book people” who shared their excitement about having access to Wilder’s first manuscript.

In both Pioneer Girl and These Happy Golden Years, Wilder wrote about her first composition, “Ambition.” Though the real and fictional essays differ, in These Happy Golden Years, young Laura writes, “Ambition is necessary to accomplishment.”  With such an important principle in mind, we had embarked on our ambitious BEA experience. Luckily, we had a little more time to prepare than Laura did when she set down to write her first piece of prose.

The trip yielded valuable information and contacts. Wilder made a lasting impression, showing that her coming-of-age story speaks volumes, even to those who haven’t experienced the open wilderness that Pa and Laura so loved.  BEA 2014 was a success!


Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt visit Prairie Pages for Love Letters from Mount Rushmore

MRM 1I have the pleasure of working with a variety of individuals on many projects. Not often, however, do I get to meet characters like the Mount Rushmore Mascots. With the South Dakota Historical Society Press book Love Letters from Mount Rushmore: The Story of a Marriage, a Monument, and a Moment in History, I had my chance!MRM 2

Earlier this week the mascots and I visited Prairie Pages Bookseller, the local bookstore in Pierre, South Dakota, so the guys could pick up the latest book from the Press. We had a grand time entertaining the gathering crowds and telling them about this fascinating story. Written by Richard Cerasani, Love Letters from Mount Rushmore uses photographs, letters, and artifacts to detail the previously untold experiences of his father, Arthur Cerasani, who worked on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in 1940.

Eager to begin reading, the “presidents” rushed to the cash register and then started their journey down the street to a local coffee shop, Pierre 347, for a comfortable spot to read. Of course, before they left the bookstore, they had to stop and show a young patron some of the never-before-seen MRM 4photographs of Arthur Cerasani surveying the mountain.

Sipping on their lattes and hot cocoa, the presidential mascots learned that Cerasani was a sculptor and artist from New York. With his family over fifteen hundred miles away, he dealt with isolation, spring blizzards, summer heat, and the unpredictable moods and fortunes of master MRM 5sculptor Gutzon Borglum. Over this vast distance, he and his wife, Mary, stayed connected through letters—their daily correspondence revealing the trials of carving sixty-foot heads on a mountain top.MRM 6


In the end, the Lincoln, Roosevelt, Jefferson, and Washington mascots gave a resounding thumbs-up to the latest edition about their stone counterparts. Thank you to all of the people and businesses who made it such a fun day!


Visit your local bookstore today to pick up Love Letters from Mount Rushmore, by Richard Cerasani. Orders can also be placed online at or by calling (605) 773-6009. View Cerasani’s website at for more news about the book!


—Jennifer McIntyre, Marketing Director


Cerasani - Love Letters from Mt Rush (CI)
Love Letters from Mount Rushmore

The Story of a Marriage, a Monument, and a Moment in History

By Richard Cerasani

$29.95, hardcover


Mount Rushmore Focus of State Historical Society’s Latest Book

Cerasani - Love Letters from Mt Rush (CI)
Pierre, S.D.—Written by former soap opera star Richard Cerasani, “Love Letters from Mount Rushmore: The Story of a Marriage, a Monument, and a Moment in History” is the newest book available from the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Starting with the discovery of an old trunk, Cerasani recounts a previously untold story of love and opportunity set during the carving of Mount Rushmore.

 The story centers on Cerasani’s father, Arthur Cerasani, who worked on Mount Rushmore from March to September of 1940. A sculptor and artist from Rochester, N.Y., Arthur lived in the Black Hills, while his family remained over 1,500 miles away in Avon, N.Y. Over this vast distance, he and his wife Mary stayed connected through daily letters. Their correspondence, presented here with never-before-seen photographs, brings to light the everyday trials of working on the Mount Rushmore Memorial and the strength of the human spirit.

 Despite isolation, spring blizzards, summer heat, and the unpredictable moods and fortunes of master sculptor Gutzon Borglum, Arthur Cerasani manages to grow as an artist and connect with Luigi Del Bianco, Hugo Villa and other carvers of the great monument.

 “Richard Cerasani is telling the story of his parents, but, in the end, he is sharing the experience of many workers on Mount Rushmore,” said Jay D. Vogt, director of the State Historical Society. “By using letters, photographs and art, the author has created an engaging new account for readers about this national monument. It is an important piece of history that, until now, was not available.”

 Made famous by his role as the villain Bill Watson on “General Hospital,” Richard Cerasani is the middle son of Arthur and Mary Cerasani. He has been a professional actor and member of the Screen Actors Guild, Actors’ Equity Association and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists for some 50 years. He acts under his professional name, Richard Caine.

 On the experience of writing “Love Letters from Mount Rushmore,” Cerasani relates, “when I first started this book, Arthur and Mary Cerasani were simply my parents. However, the trunk in the attic revealed a more complete—and complex—picture of the life they had lived for their children and others.”

 “Love Letters from Mount Rushmore: The Story of a Marriage, a Monument, and a Moment in History” is available for $29.95 plus shipping and tax and can be purchased from most bookstores or ordered directly from the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Visit, email or call (605) 773-6009.

Read the press release here.

Praise for “Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend” in the Midwest Book Review

Montileaux - Tasunka (CI)

“Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend” is a traditional Lakota teaching tale about the significance of the discovery and taming of horses by an early Lakota warrior, on the Northern Great Plains of North America. Filled with vibrant, expressive, carefully drawn illustrations done in the style of Lakota ledger artists’ drawings, “Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend” tells the traditional story in both English and Lakota, in simple language filled with traditional storytellers’ fireside styles of intimate, significant communication to the young. In ancient times, a young warrior out hunting discovers evidence of a new, astounding animal. Times have been hard, and the people of his village were hungry. With much careful trailing, observation, and patient domestication approaches, the warrior succeeds in taming and building a small herd of domesticated wild horses, which he takes home to his village. The horses enabled the Lakota people to hunt game much farther and longer, and they prospered with the help of the fine horses. However, they used the Great Spirit’s gift of the horse, Tasunka, to claim new lands and to dominate other peoples. Because of their misuse of the great gift of Tasunka, horses were taken away from the Lakota people. Much later, they returned again ridden by strange white warriors wearing silver armor. The Lakota people once again were able to tame and ride the wild herd of horses, part of Tasunka’s legacy. ” This return of the Tasunka to the plains people was the Great Spirit’s way of forgiveness.” The Lakota once again became wealthy, great horsemen of the plains. The stunning ledger style illustrations add colorful imagery to the spare, descriptive traditional narrative of “Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend,” weaving a complex treasure of heritage for children of tomorrow. Each page contains both an English and a Lakota translation of the narrative, ideally written for children age five and up.”


See the review here.

Dakota Midday Interview with Darcy Lipp-Acord, “Circling Back Home”


“As I studied literature in college. . . .  there just wasn’t a lot out there about the woman who tended the home fires, who ran to town for parts, who cooked the meals, who took care of the children. There is a body of literature about the cowgirl who is out there alongside her husband, and that’s honorable in its own right, but I felt like the story of so many women of the plains needed to be honored—because of their importance, not just in an agricultural lifestyle, but any lifestyle. . . .”—Darcy Lipp-Acord speaking about Circling Back Home: A Plainswoman’s Journey on Dakota Midday, 24 February 2014.

Listen to the rest of her interview here.

Darcy Lipp-Acord will be speaking live for the History and Heritage Book Club at three locations via the Digital Dakota Network on 11 March 2014.

  • Pierre:  Cultural Heritage Center, 7PM CST
  • Rapid City: South Dakota School of Mines, Classroom Building, room 109, 6PM MST
  • Sioux Falls: South Dakota University Center, Administration Building, room 145, 7PM CST

Circling Back Home: A Plainswoman’s Journey is available for $16.95 plus shipping and tax and can be purchased from most bookstores or ordered directly from the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. Visit or call (605) 773-6009. For publicity information, please contact our Marketing Director at

New Words, Old Words

In the course of my work making editors’ corrections to the “Pioneer Girl” annotations, I have come across several unfamiliar words. Most of these terms have simply fallen out of usage and been forgotten. Some became clear as I read through the manuscript, but others remain puzzling.

When I first read of a “lunatic fringe” in “Pioneer Girl,” for example, I immediately thought of its modern definition, which refers to a fanatical group. I was surprised to learn, as many Wilder fans may already know, that the term referred to the bangs that fall across one’s forehead. Apparently, this hairstyle was not looked on especially favorably in the late 1800s.

“Fichu” was another unfamiliar word. Laura’s good friend, Ida Brown, gave her one as a wedding gift. The vintage dictionary we sometimes consult here in the office defines a fichu as a small cape, usually made from lace and triangular in shape, similar to a scarf. I also learned that this very fichu is on display at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri.

When Laura became engaged, she wore the garnet-and-pearl ring Almanzo gave her on her “first finger.” This one still has me stumped. Did she wear it on her index finger, or was the nineteenth-century “first finger” what we call a “ring finger” today?

I had also never heard of “lawn” in connection with a dress. Laura had a pink sprigged “lawn” dress. I have since learned that lawn is a sheer, lightweight fabric, now usually woven from cotton but, in the nineteenth century, also made from linen.

Laura’s father, Charles, would sometimes sit with the graybeards in the “Amen corner” of the First Congregational Church. I now know that those who led congregational responses or who were especially ardent worshippers would sit in that section.

In These Happy Golden Years, Laura wore her new hat, which she described as “a sage-green, rough straw, in poke-bonnet shape.” I have since learned that a poke bonnet is one with a projecting brim or front, designed to shade the face. “Pie-plant” had me stumped at first, too, but the definition of garden rhubarb makes sense.

Little did I know that working with the Pioneer Girl Project would expand my vocabulary in so many ways.  I’m looking forward to solving the next “word mystery.”