Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Virginia Ruth Wagoner-Rackley  

Pen Name: None


Born: 1925 in Mattoon, Illinois



Illinois Connection

Born in Mattoon, Illinois

Biographical and Professional Information

Virginia Rackley was born in central Illinois, the third child of 12 and the eldest daughter. She learned early that an industrious nature and a cheerful outlook were essential to her survival. At the age of fifteen, she watched her family shatter, and she was suddenly, in 1942, separated from her siblings. She would work to reconnect with her family, and, in large measure, succeeded. In 1997, she coauthored Ten Sisters: A True Story and later, Ten Little Sisters. She continues to live with her family in central Illinois. She is featured in the award-winning PBS short documentary on the Ten Sisters (Prairie Fire - PBS WILL) which won a Gracie Allen Award in 2004. She is featured in a full-length PBS documentary, Ten Sisters: A True Story DVDs are available through PBS WILL 217 333 1070. The story of the Ten Sisters was also featured in Family Circle Magazine, and three newspaper articles about the ten sisters won awards for journalism.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Ten Sisters : A True Story
ISBN: 1878044818

Mayhaven Publishing, Inc.. 1999

5rd printing of this book. First two editions were in hardcover (1997). This is the fifth edition of the book in softcover. But life was no paradise and in 1942, while their two older brothers served in World War II, the courts separated the sisters in a brief legal proceedings in Coles County Courthouse, Charleston, Illinois. Two were adopted, one went to live with grandparents, five were sent to an orphanage and the others worked for families and organizations. It took fifty years to heal the wounds caused on that winter day in 42 and for the sisters to build a new relationship. This book is sad. It is also funny. It has been highly praised for its unique approach to an all too familiar tale. Each sister wrote her own chapter.

Ten Little Sisters
ISBN: 1878044389

Mayhaven Pub. 2002

Based on the non-fiction book, Ten Sisters, this children's Illustrated book is both entertaining and factual and deal with the girls until they were separated in 1942.


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