PHILADELPHIA – The childhood homes of author Maud Hart Lovelace and her best friend, Frances “Bick” Kenney Kirch, in Mankato, Minn., were designated Literary Landmarks by the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).
Lovelace was the author of the Betsy-Tacy book series, which was set at the turn of the 20th century in Mankato. Born Maud Palmer Hart on April 25, 1892, she and her family lived in the house from 1892 to 1906. It was there that she met her best friend, Frances “Bick” Kenney, who moved into the house across the street in 1898. Maud (“Betsy”) and Bick (“Tacy”) were lifelong friends, and the tales of their childhood in Mankato later became the Betsy-Tacy book series.
The Literary Landmark dedication, held May 20, began with a welcome by Betsy-Tacy Society President Penny Banwart, followed by a portrayal of Maud Hart Lovelace by Susan Hynes at “Betsy’s House.” A portrayal of Frances “Bick” Kenney Kirch by Barb Dunker followed at “Tacy’s House.” Tours of the Betsy-Tacy houses were held following the dedication.
Sponsoring the Literary Landmark dedications was the Betsy-Tacy Society, which owns both houses, and celebrates the spirit of the Betsy-Tacy books and the writings, books and life of Maud Hart Lovelace. The nonprofit organization works to promote and preserve Lovelace’s legacy and her work, encourage and support literacy and conserve the author’s historic childhood home. Each year, hundreds of visitors come to Mankato to view the Betsy-Tacy houses. For more information about the Betsy-Tacy Society, visit www.betsy-tacysociety.org.
The Literary Landmarks Association was founded in 1986 by former Friends of Libraries U.S.A. (FOLUSA) president Frederick G. Ruffner to encourage the dedication of historic literary sites. In 1989, the Literary Landmark project became an official FOLUSA committee. The Literary Landmark program continues under ALTAFF, the newly formed division of ALA created by the joining of FOLUSA and the Association for Library Trustees and Friends (ALTA). More than 100 Literary Landmarks across the United States have been dedicated since the program began. Any library or citizens group may apply for a Literary Landmark through ALTAFF; for more information, visit http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/altaff/products_services/literarylandmarks.
ALTAFF is a division of ALA with approximately 5,000 Friends of the Library, Trustee, Foundation and individual members and affiliates representing hundreds of thousands of library supporters. Begun in early 2009, the new division brings together Trustees and Friends into a partnership that unites the voices of citizens for libraries to create a powerful force for libraries in the 21st century. For more information about ALTAFF, please contact Jillian Kalonick at (312) 280-2161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.