‘Little House on the Prairie’: One Ingalls Daughter Star Went on to Study at Harvard

by Madison Miller

While “Little House on the Prairie” still appears on television through reruns, the happenings of Walnut Grove are a part of the past.

Actors from the show have long moved on or sadly passed away, since appearing on the classic television show. The show was on from 1974 to 1982. It continues for another year without Michael Landon and Karen Grassle and goes by “Little House: A New Beginning.”

During the last couple of seasons, Cassandra Ingalls came to Walnut Grove. She is the adoptive daughter of Caroline and Charles Ingalls. Her parents died from a fatal wagon accident. She also has an older brother, James, that the Ingalls adopted as well. She was close to her adoptive sister, Carrie Ingalls.

Her time at Walnut Grove was capsized with drama and tragedy. When the actress behind Cassandra, Melissa Ann Francis, was done with the “Little House on the Prairie,” she actually attended Harvard.

Melissa Ann Francis Now

According to History By Day, Francis had first started acting when she was a little baby. She was in shampoo commercials as well as other movies and TV shows over the years. Two of which were “Galactica 1980” and “St. Elsewhere.”

While she was a talented actress on the show, Francis studied economics at the prestigious Ivy League school, Harvard University. From there, she spent time as a TV journalist. She also wrote the memoir, “Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir.”

She had been on news-related shows like “After The Bell,” “Happening Now,” and “Outnumbered.” She worked as a reporter for CNBC, CNET, Fox Business Network, and Fox News Channel. As of 2020, she had left Fox. Allegedly, it is due to the fact that she was being underpaid in comparison to her male colleagues. She had filed a gender-based pay discrimination claim against them.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Condemned

According to The New York Times article from 2018, the American Library Association renamed Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. The award is meant to pay tribute to books that have had a lasting impact on the children’s literature world.

The change was meant to recognize more “inclusiveness, integrity, and respect.”

“Wilder’s books are a product of her life experiences and perspective as a settler in America’s 1800s. Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities,” the president of the association, Jim Neal, said.

Some consider the dated depictions of race and culture unfit for children, but useful to study and analyze for older people. The book “Little House on the Prairie” has racist imagery of Indigenous groups and also has a minstrel show mentioned, amongst other issues. The change in the name wasn’t meant to censor the books, but rather share that they are not necessarily appropriate for children audiences.