The women who traveled west in covered wagons during the 1840s speak through these letters and diaries. Here are the voices of Tamsen Donner and young Virginia Reed, members of the ill-fated Donner party; Patty Sessions, the Mormon midwife who delivered five babies on the trail between Omaha and Salt Lake City; Rachel Fisher, who buried both her husband and her little girl before reaching Oregon. Still others make themselves heard, starting out from different places and recording details along the way, from the mundane to the soul-shattering and spirit-lifting.
Kenneth L. Holmes was a professor of history at Western Oregon State College. He edited and compiled Covered Wagon Women, drawing on archives and private sources.
Lillian Schlissel is the author of Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey. She is a professor of English and director of the American Studies program at Brooklyn College.
"Kenneth L. Holmes made the very wise editorial decision not to update, revise, or parenthetically correct the quirky and often fascinating prose of these nineteenth-century women. . . . The writing is rich with the sounds of common speech and jargon . . . and it should be a gold mine for students of everyday life."—John Mack Faragher, Western Historical Quarterly
"Covered Wagon Women is to be valued. . . . First, it brings together in a single edition a major collection of the diaries of overland women. . . . Second, this is probably the most perfectly documented edition a researcher will find."—Lillian Schlissel, Pacific Historical Review