Maud Hart Lovelace was born in Mankato, Minnesota, in 1892 and is best known for her beloved series of Betsy-Tacy books—timeless tales of a true and lifelong friendship. (Maud also wrote historical fiction for adults and several other children's books.) The Betsy-Tacy books are based on the author’s childhood memories of growing up in Mankato. With more than a million and a half books sold, the series has drawn national and international attention to the town Maud famously christened "Deep Valley."
The nonprofit Betsy-Tacy Society (BTS) was established in 1990 with the goal of promoting the books, which at that time were mostly out of print. BTS members successfully lobbied HarperCollins Publishers to reprint the series. All the Betsy-Tacy and Deep Valley books been in print ever since and continue to sell well.
In 2001 and 1995, respectively, the BTS purchased Maud’s childhood home (Betsy’s House, 333 Center Street) and the home of her lifelong best friend, Frances Kenney Kirch (Tacy‘s House, 332 Center Street), saving each from likely demolition. The Society paid off the mortgages on both houses without taxpayer assistance. Restoration and maintenance of each historical home is ongoing, requiring resources.
Betsy’s House has been restored and furnished as a museum to look just as it did when the Hart family lived there more than a hundred years ago. Tacy’s House has also been restored, and a number of Hart and Lovelace family treasures and artifacts are on display. The BTS gift shop and offices are also in Tacy's House. Both Houses were designated National Literary Landmarks in 2010. Each year, hundreds of visitors from across the country and abroad visit the Houses to learn more about life at the turn of the 20th century.
The BTS does not receive federal or state funding. Donations, memberships (currently numbering close to 750), and gift shop sales are the organization's primary sources of revenue. The BTS relies on two part-time staff members and many volunteers for its programs and events, communications and member outreach, tours, order fulfillment and gift shop operations, and house restoration and maintenance.
The unofficial motto of BTS members is "I thought I was the only one!" Though the Betsy-Tacy books are less well known than their historical counterparts Anne of Green Gables and the Little House books, their fans are no less devoted to this deeply beloved series. The BTS has fostered friendships and connections all over the world among readers who otherwise would never have met. We can think of no better legacy for Maud Hart Lovelace, who wrote so movingly about her own treasured friendships.
“But the nicest present she received was not the usual kind of present. It was the present of a friend. It was Tacy.”
—from Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace