Millions of people who read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House
books are familiar with the story of her sister, Mary, who became blind
after a bout with scarlet fever
. But was it really scarlet fever?
To make this case, the authors use evidence from newspaper reports of Mary’s illness and first-hand accounts of Mary’s illness in Laura Ingalls’ memoirs, as well as school registries and epidemiologic data on blindness and infectious diseases in the years when Mary and Laura Ingalls were children.