A Woman’s Trip Across the Plains Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Like countless other Americans, Catherine Haun heard the stories of ordinary people who struck it rich in California following the discovery of gold there in 1848. Compared by many to El Dorado, the legendary city of gold, California was viewed as a place where anyone capable of hard work could earn his or her rightful due. As part of a group of travelers, Haun and her husband journeyed west in 1849 in the hope of “‘pick[ing] up’ gold enough” to settle their debts. Despite the many hardships she faced, including rough travel, fear of attack by American Indians, and rampant disease, Haun persevered, ultimately arriving safely in California late in 1849. Her chronicle of her journey, “A Woman's Trip across the Plains,” provides a detailed contemporary account of a pivotal time in the history of both California and the United States as a whole. Haun records even the smallest details, such as the foods the pioneers ate, the clothing they wore, and the geological formations they encountered, thus providing later readers with an in-depth understanding of the pioneer experience.

Summary Overview

Like countless other Americans, Catherine Haun heard the stories of ordinary people who struck it rich in California following the discovery of gold there in 1848. Compared by many to El Dorado, the legendary city of gold, California was viewed as a place where anyone capable of hard work could earn his or her rightful due. As part of a group of travelers, Haun and her husband journeyed west in 1849 in the hope of “‘pick[ing] up’ gold enough” to settle their debts. Despite the many hardships she faced, including rough travel, fear of attack by American Indians, and rampant disease, Haun persevered, ultimately arriving safely in California late in 1849. Her chronicle of her journey, “A Woman's Trip across the Plains,” provides a detailed contemporary account of a pivotal time in the history of both California and the United States as a whole. Haun records even the smallest details, such as the foods the pioneers ate, the clothing they wore, and the geological formations they encountered, thus providing later readers with an in-depth understanding of the pioneer experience.

Defining Moment

On January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered several small pieces of gold while supervising the construction of a sawmill in what is now Coloma, California. News of his discovery spread quickly, and so-called gold fever soon affected countless Americans who saw in California the promise of lucrative rewards in exchange for difficult but profitable labor. Thousands traveled to California, seeking to start new lives on the West Coast or to return home after becoming wealthy. Of these travelers, only a few wrote accounts of their journeys, and memoirs such as Haun's provide crucial details about the lives of those who traveled west in search of gold.

Those traveling along the trails to California faced many difficulties. Diseases such as cholera, smallpox, and typhoid were prevalent, and many travelers feared that they would be robbed, attacked, or killed by American Indians. Despite these hardships and the exhausting travel, many of those bound for California sought to take elements of their old lives with them. As Haun documents, the women of the trails held fast to their customs of socializing, swapping recipes and foods, knitting, and mending clothes. Such practices, Haun notes, “kept [the women] in practice of feminine occupations and diversions.” The women adapted to the use of dried buffalo dung (“buffalo chips”) as fuel in their cooking and cleaning and adjusted to the noise and openness all around them at night, but they would not part with the activities that nineteenth-century society expected of them as ladies. Performing these tasks—seemingly mundane chores—kept home traditions alive and ensured the survival of the travelers' way of life despite the sweeping wind and dust along the plains.

Author Biography

Little is known about Catherine Haun's life prior to her journey to California. She and her husband, a lawyer, lived near the town of Clinton, in eastern Iowa. Part of the French territory transferred to the United States in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, Iowa achieved statehood only three years before the Hauns' departure for California and was renowned for its agriculture. Despite the state's fertile fields, at least some residents of the Iowa were struggling financially by the time of the gold rush. Haun refers to “a period of National hard times” and notes that she and her husband, “being financially involved in… business interests near Clinton,” hoped to travel to California and find “gold enough with which to return and pay off [their] debts.” It is possible that the “period of National hard times” to which she refers was the aftermath of the Panic of 1837, which set off a depression that enveloped the United States for nearly a decade. Although Haun does not specify the nature of her family's financial difficulties, it is possible that the Hauns' “business interests” were affected by the economic upheaval of the period, prompting their move west in search of gold.

In early 1849, Haun and her husband began to plan their journey to California. They departed in April, accompanied by about twenty-five fellow Iowans. After enduring the many hardships and setbacks detailed in Haun's memoir, the majority of the travelers arrived safely in Sacramento, California, in early November. In January, the Hauns settled in the small town of Marysville, where Haun's husband established a law practice. Little is known about Haun's life after this point, and whether she and her husband ever searched for gold themselves or returned to Iowa remains unknown.

Historical Document

Early in January of 1849 we first thought of emigrating to California. It was a period of National hard times and we being financially involved in our business interests near Clinton, Iowa, longed to go to the new El Dorado and “pick up” gold enough with which to return and pay off our debts.…

At that time the “gold fever” was contagious and few, old or young, escaped the malady. On the streets, in the fields, in the workshops and by the fireside, golden California was the chief topic of conversation. Who were going? How was best to “fix up” the “outfit”? What to take as food and clothing? Who would stay at home to care for the farm and womenfolks? Who would take wives and children along? Advice was handed out quite free of charge and often quite free of common sense. However, as two heads are better than one, all proffered ideas helped as a means to the end. The intended adventurers dilligently collected their belongings and after exchanging such articles as were not needed for others more suitable for the trip, begging, buying or borrowing what they could, with buoyant spirits started off. Some half dozen families of our neighborhood joined us and probably about twenty-five persons constituted our little band.…

It was more than three months before we were thoroughly equipped and on April 24th, 1849 we left our comparatively comfortable homes—and the uncomfortable creditorsfor the uncertain and dangerous trip, beyond which loomed up, in our mind's eye, castles of shining gold.

There was still snow upon the ground and the roads were bad, but in our eagerness to be off we ventured forth. This was a mistake as had we delayed for a couple of weeks the weather would have been more settled, the roads better and much of the discouragement and hardship of the first days of travel might have been avoided.

At the end of the month we reached Council Bluffs, having only travelled across the state of Iowa, a distance of about 350 miles every mile of which was beautifully green and well watered.…

As Council Bluffs was the last settlement on the route we made ready for the final plunge into the wilderness by looking over our wagons and disposing of whatever we could spare.…

The canvas covered schooners were supposed to be, as nearly as possible, constructed upon the principle of the “wonderful one-horse shay.” It was very essential that the animals be sturdy, whether oxen, mules or horses. Oxen were preferred as they were less liable to stampede or be stolen by Indians and for long hauls held out better and though slower they were steady and in the long run performed the journey in an equally brief time. Besides, in an emergency they could be used as beef. When possible the provisions and ammunition were protected from water and dust by heavy canvas or rubber sheets.

Good health, and above all, not too large a proportion of women and children was also taken into consideration. The morning starts had to be made early—always before six o'clock—and it would be hard to get children ready by that hour. Later on experience taught the mothers that in order not to delay the trains it was best to allow the smaller children to sleep in the wagons until after several hours of travel when they were taken up for the day.

Our caravan had a good many women and children and although we were probably longer on the journey owing to their presence—they exerted a good influence, as the men did not take such risks with Indians and thereby avoided conflict;were more alert about the care of the teams and seldom had accidents; more attention was paid to cleanliness and sanitation and, lastly but not of less importance, the meals were more regular and better cooked thus preventing much sickness and there was less waste of food.…

After a sufficient number of wagons and people were collected at this rendezvous we proceeded to draw up and agree upon a code of general regulations for train government and mutual protection—a necessary precaution when so many were to travel together. Each family was to be independent yet a part of the grand unit and every man was expected to do his individual share of general work and picket duty.

John Brophy was selected as Colonel. He was particularly eligible having served in the Black Hawk War and as much of his life had been spent along the frontier his experience with Indians was quite exceptional.

Each week seven Captains were appointed to serve on “Grand Duty.” They were to protect the camps and animals at night. One served each night and in case of danger gave the alarm.

When going into camp the “leader wagon” was turned from the road to the right, the next wagon turned to the left, the others following close after and always alternating to right and left. In this way a large circle, or corral, was formed within which the tents were pitched and the oxen herded. The horses were picketed near by until bed time when they were tethered to the tongues of the wagons.

While the stock and wagons were being cared for, the tents erected and camp fires started by the side of the wagons outside the corral, the cooks busied themselves preparing the evening meal for the hungry, tired, impatient travelers.

When the camp ground was desirable enough to warrant it we did not travel on the Sabbath.

Although the men were generally busy mending wagons, harness, yokes, shoeing the animals etc., and the women washed clothes, boiled a big mess of beans, to be warmed over for several meals, or perhaps mended clothes or did other household straightening up, all felt somewhat rested on Monday morning, for the change of occupation had been refreshing.…

During the entire trip Indians were a source of anxiety, we being never sure of their friendship. Secret dread and alert watchfulness seemed always necessary for after we left the prairies they were more treacherous and numerous being in the language of the pioneer trapper: “They wus the most onsartainest vermints alive.”

One night after we had retired, some sleeping in blankets upon the ground, some in tents, a few under the wagons and others in the wagons, Colonel Brophy gave the men a practice drill. It was impromptu and a surprise. He called: “Indians, Indians!” We were thrown into great confusion and excitement but he was gratified at the promptness and courage with which the men responded. Each immediately seized his gun and made ready for the attack. The women had been instructed to seek shelter in the wagons at such times of danger, but some screamed, others fainted, a few crawled under the wagons and those sleeping in wagons generally followed their husbands out and all of us were nearly paralized with fear. Fortunately, we never had occasion to put into actual use this maneuver, but the drill was quite reassuring and certainly we womenfolk would have acted braver had the alarm ever again been sounded.…

Finally after a couple of weeks' travel the distant mountains of the west came into view.

This was the land of the buffalo. One day a herd came in our direction like a great black cloud, a threatening moving mountain, advancing towards us very swiftly and with wild snorts, noses almost to the ground and tails flying in midair. I haven't any idea how many there were but they seemed to be innumerable and made a deafening terrible noise. As is their habit, when stampeding, they did not turn out of their course for anything. Some of our wagons were within their line of advance and in consequence one was completely demolished and two were overturned. Several persons were hurt, one child's shoulder being dislocated, but fortunately no one was killed.

Two of these buffaloes were shot and the humps and tongues furnished us with fine fresh meat. They happened to be buffalo cows and, in consequence, the meat was particularly good flavor and tender. It is believed that the cow can run faster than the bull. The large bone of the hind leg, after being stripped of the flesh, was buried in coals of buffalo chips and in an hour the baked marrow was served. I have never tasted such a rich, delicious food!…

Buffalo chips, when dry, were very useful to us as fuel. On the barren plains when we were without wood we carried empty bags and each pedestrian “picked up chips” as he, or she, walked along. Indeed we could have hardly got along without thus useful animal, were always appropriating either his hump, tongue, marrowbone, tallow, skin or chips!…

Trudging along within the sight of the Platte, whose waters were now almost useless to us on account of the Alkali, we one day found a post with a cross board pointing to a branch road which seemed better than the one we were on.… We decided to take it but before many miles suddenly found ourselves in a desolate, rough country that proved to be the edge of the “Bad Lands” I shudder yet at the thought of the ugliness and danger of the territory.…

We saw nothing living but Indians, lizards and snakes. Trying, indeed, to feminine nerves. Surely Inferno can be no more horrible in formation. The pelting sun's rays reflected from the parched ground seemed a furnace heat by day and our campfires, as well as those of the Indians cast grotesque glares and terrifying shadows by night. The demen needed only horns and cloven feet to complete the soul stirring picture!

To add to the horrors of the surroundings one man was bitten on the ankle by a venemous snake. Although every available remidy was tried upon the wound, his limb had to be amputated with the aid of a common handsaw. Fortunately, for him, he had a good, brave wife along who helped and cheered him into health and usefulness; for it was not long before he found much that he could do and was not considered a burden, although the woman had to do a man's work as they were alone. He was of a mechanical turn, and later on helped mend wagons, yokes and harness; and when the train was “on the move” sat in the wagon, gun by his side, and repaired boots and shoes. He was one of the most cheery members of the company and told good stories and sang at the campfire, putting to shame some of the able bodied who were given to complaining or selfishness.…

Finally after several days we got back onto the road and were entering the Black Hills Country.…

We had not traveled many miles in the Black Hills—the beginning of the Rocky Mountains—before we realized that our loads would have to be lightened as the animals were not able to draw the heavily laden wagons over the slippery steep roads. We were obliged to sacrifice most of our merchandise that was intended for our stock in trade in California and left it by the wayside; burying the barrels of alcohol least the Indians should drink it and frenzied thereby might follow and attack us.…

During the day we womenfolk visited from wagon to wagon or congenial friends spent an hour walking, ever westward, and talking over our home life back in “the states” telling of the loved ones left behind; voicing our hopes for the future in the far west and even whispering a little friendly gossip of emigrant life.

High teas were not popular but tatting, knitting, crocheting, exchanging recipes for cooking beans or dried apples or swapping food for the sake of variety kept us in practice of feminine occupations and diversions.

We did not keep late hours but when not too engrossed with fear of the red enemy or dread of impending danger we enjoyed the hour around the campfire. The menfolk lolling and smoking their pipes and guessing or maybe betting how many miles we had covered the day. We listened to readings, story telling, music and songs and the day often ended in laughter and merrymaking.

It was the fourth of July when we reached the beautiful Laramie River. Its sparkling, pure waters were full of myriads of fish that could be caught with scarcely an effort. It was necessary to build barges to cross the river and during the enforced delay our animals rested and we had one of our periodical “house cleanings.” This general systematic re-adjustment always freshened up our wagon train very much, for after a few weeks of travel things got mixed up and untidy and often wagons had to be abandoned if too worn for repairs, and generally one or more animals had died or been stolen.

Cholera was prevalent on the plains at this time; the train preceding as well as the one following ours had one or more deaths, but fortunately we had not a single case of the disease. Often several graves together stood as silent proof of smallpox or cholera epidemic. The Indians spread the disease among themselves by digging up the bodies of the victims for the clothing. The majority of the Indians were badly pock-marked.…

It was with considerable apprehension that we started to traverse the treeless, alkali region of the Great Basin or Sink of the Humboldt. Our wagons were badly worn, the animals much the worse for wear, food and stock feed was getting low with no chance of replenishing the supply. During the month of transit we, like other trains, experienced the greatest privations of the whole trip. It was no unusual sight to see graves, carcasses of animals and abandoned wagons. In fact the latter furnished us with wood for the campfires as the sagebrush was scarce and unsatisfactory and buffalo chips were not as plentiful as on the plains east of the Rocky Mountains.…

Across this drear country I used to ride horseback several hours of the day which was a great relief from the continual jolting of even our spring wagon. I also walked a great deal and this lightened the wagon. One day I walked fourteen miles and was not very fatigued.… The men seemed more tired and hungry than were the women. Our only death on the journey occurred in this desert. The Canadian woman, Mrs. Lamore, suddenly sickened and died, leaving her two little girls and grief stricken husband. We halted a day to bury her and the infant that had lived but an hour, in this weird, lonely spot on God's footstool away apparently from everywhere and everybody.…

We reached Sacramento on November 4, 1849, just six months and ten days after leaving Clinton, Iowa, we were all in pretty good condition.… Although very tired of tent life many of us spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in our canvas houses. I do not remember ever having had happier holiday times. For Christmas dinner we had a grizzly bear steak for which we paid $2.50, one cabbage for $1.00 and—oh horrors—some more dried apples! And for a Christmas present the Sacramento river rose very high and flooded the whole town!… It was past the middle of January before we… reached Marysville—there were only a half dozen houses; all occupied at exorbitant prices. Some one was calling for the services of a lawyer to draw up a will and my husband offered to do it for which he charged $150.00.

This seemed a happy omen for success and he hung out his shingle, abandoning all thought of going to the mines. As we had lived in a tent and had been on the move for nine months, traveling 2400 miles we were glad to settle down and go housekeeping in a shed that was built in a day of lumber purchased with the first fee.

Glossary

cholera: a commonly fatal illness caused by contaminated water

Council Bluffs: a town in Iowa that served as the beginning of the Mormon Trail

El Dorado: a legendary golden city

Laramie River: a tributary of the Platte River located in present-day Colorado and Wyoming

Sink of the Humboldt: a dry lake bed in Nevada; also known as Humboldt Sink

smallpox: a highly infectious and frequently fatal disease causing the appearance of pustules on the skin

Document Analysis

It is impossible to ascertain the thoughts that ran through Haun's mind as she and her husband set off for California in 1849. However, it is safe to presume that worries about the weather and disease and the rumors of American Indian attacks on wagon trains were at the forefront of her mind throughout the journey. In this, Haun was similar to the many other women traveling across the plains. But the journey was also an adventure that took her out of the home, away from the limited domestic sphere, and plunged her into a relatively unknown realm. Along with the other women in her group, Haun adapted to cooking, mending, cleaning, and living out in the open. Although she witnessed death and accidents en route, she also worked to preserve elements of her life in Iowa, balancing the unpredictability of life on the trails with the customs and practices then considered essential to civilized society. As a detailed chronicle of Haun's journey, “A Woman's Trip across the Plains” can teach twenty-first-century readers much about the long and arduous trek made by those seeking wealth and new opportunities in California.

In her memoir, Haun states that she and her husband began seriously thinking of making the long journey in January of 1849. They must have decided to move forward with their plan quickly, for Haun notes that their party, which was made up of “some half dozen families,” was “thoroughly equipped” within a matter of months. “On April 24th, 1849,” she writes, “we left our comparatively comfortable homes.” Three months was a relatively short time in which to plan and prepare for such a journey, and the speed with which the travelers did so indicates that their area of Iowa was likely well stocked with the necessary provisions for the journey westward.

Careful preparation was crucial to the success of any such journey. In his work Wagons West: The Epic Story of America's Overland Trails, historian Frank McLynn notes that in 1843, each family migrating to the West Coast was recommended to bring “no less than two hundred pounds of flour and one hundred pounds of bacon for every family member, as well as other provisions—beans, rice, ship's biscuits and dried fruit being particularly recommended” (130). A wagon, which Haun calls a “schooner,” was also required, as were spare parts and animals to pull the loaded vehicle. As trees were not always plentiful along the plains, lumber for repairs was also a necessity. McLynn estimates that fitting out a wagon and team cost between three hundred and six hundred dollars, a significant sum in the mid-nineteenth century.

The question of which animals were best suited to pulling the wagons was subject to debate. Although horses were used at times, the main choice was between oxen and mules, and there were arguments in favor of each. Mules, writes McLynn, “were tough and durable, moved faster, did not get sore feet as oxen did and could subsist on cottonwood bark and alkaline water” (56). Oxen, on the other hand, “were less likely to be stolen than mules… were better able to withstand fatigue, could exist on a wider variety of sparse vegetation, were less likely to stray from camp, were safer, more reliable and almost as fast” (56). Cost was also an important consideration, with a mule at times costing three times as much as a single ox. Haun touches on this debate in her memoir, writing, “It was very essential that the animals be sturdy, whether oxen, mules or horses. Oxen were preferred as they were less liable to stampede… and for long hauls held out better and though slower they were steady and in the long run performed the journey in an equally brief time.” Ever practical, Haun additionally notes that “in an emergency [the oxen] could be used as beef.”

Like a great number of those setting off for brighter futures on the West Coast, the members of the Hauns' wagon train began their journey with far more possessions than they needed, and many of these items, both practical and impractical, did not make it to California. In this, they were not alone. For those crossing the plains, trying to fit as many items as possible within the wagons was understandable, though certainly not practical. These small touches of home, or convenience, allowed families to feel connected with their old lives and the communities they left behind. As they moved west, however, the travelers were often forced to leave possessions behind to lighten the wagons' loads or make space for sick or injured individuals. The journey of Haun and the others in her wagon train was no different. She notes that after reaching Council Bluffs, a popular starting point for California-bound travelers located in western Iowa, she and her fellow travelers “made ready for the final plunge into the wilderness by looking over [their] wagons and disposing of whatever [they] could spare.” Later, Haun's party was forced to leave behind more supplies in order to travel safely across mountainous terrain. Possessions left behind by earlier travelers became a common sight for those en route to California, and Haun adds that her party at times built campfires using wood from abandoned wagons.

Graves were another inevitable part of the scenery across the plains, as many travelers died along the way. Cholera, a commonly fatal disease caused by bacteria in contaminated water, took a number of lives along the trail. The disease was known to strike quickly and could kill a person in a day. Haun's wagon train was lucky, as none of the members fell ill, but Haun and her companions were all too aware of the disease's toll on their fellow travelers, seeing clusters of graves that “stood as silent proof of… cholera epidemic.” Accidents were also firmly a part of the westward experience, one to which Haun was a witness. One man in her party was bitten by a poisonous snake, and although the wagons carried various medicines, both commercial and homemade, these remedies were ineffective. The man's leg was therefore amputated “with the aid of a common handsaw.” Despite the dangers of performing such an operation in unsanitary conditions, however, Haun reports that the man survived and remained a productive member of the group.

The survival of wagon trains such as Haun's depended on a number of factors, perhaps most importantly food. The travelers had to be sure that they obtained supplies that would last the journey, and the women who went westward, Haun notes, tried their hardest to prepare good, though at times monotonous, meals. Haun even suggests that women were brought on the trails because their food was better than that made by men and therefore “prevent[ed] much sickness and… waste of food.” Cooking on the trail was not an easy feat, and even the act of making coffee could be difficult for one not acquainted to cooking in the open. However, the travelers soon adapted to their surroundings, and in addition to the supplies they carried with them, they found another food source on the plains. Widely known as the buffalo, the American bison served as a source of fresh meat for travelers bound for the West Coast. Haun notes that after killing two buffalo, her group enjoyed a meal of meat and roasted bone marrow. In addition to the meat and marrow, Haun mentions that the party made use of the buffalo's hide; tallow, or fat; and chips, or dried dung.

After more than six months of grueling labor and unimaginably uncomfortable travel by wagon, foot, and horse, Haun's journey across the plains came to an end in November of 1849, when her wagon train arrived in Sacramento. She and her husband settled in nearby Marysville in January. Although the journey was difficult, Haun and her companions were lucky; they arrived in California safely, with only two fatalities. Given the prevalence of disease among other groups of travelers, this in itself was a remarkable feat. Although neither Haun's memoir nor the available historical sources reveal whether she and her husband achieved their goal of finding gold and settling their debts, they were successful in their journey, and Haun further succeeded in documenting it. By recording the details of her long voyage west, Haun provided a key resource for those interested in the lives of the many Americans who hoped to make their fortunes during the gold rush.

Essential Themes

Haun's memoir reflects the concerns of her time, particularly the fear the wagon trains traveling to California would be robbed or attacked by groups of American Indians. This fear was common, though the frequency with which such attacks actually occurred during the period of westward expansion is unknown. The amount of contact, friendly or otherwise, that California-bound travelers had with American Indians is also unclear. In the memoir Across the Plains, Sarah Royce, who similarly traveled to California in 1849, recalls encountering American Indians at Council Bluffs—the same spot at which Haun's party disposed of extra cargo. Royce writes, “From our first arrival at Council Bluffs we had been annoyed by begging and pilfering Indians” (34). Haun's description of Council Bluffs, however, includes no such mention of American Indians.

It is difficult to determine the extent to which Haun, or her wagon train in general, engaged with American Indians during the journey, as her comments are vague. Her train held a drill in which the men, at the prompting of the party's leader, gathered their weapons and stood in readiness, but this event seems to have been more a preparedness measure than a response to an expected threat. Haun did at one point come into visual contact with American Indians, as indicated by her statement that the party “saw nothing living but Indians, lizards and snakes.” By mentioning American Indians alongside lizards and snakes, Haun suggests that she viewed them more as hazards of the western environment than as fellow human beings. She also notes that they were “a source of anxiety” throughout the journey, although she does not discuss the rumors she may have heard in depth. In her discussion of the diseases prevalent among travelers, Haun mentions that American Indians contracted cholera and smallpox as a result of grave robbing and that many Indians were greatly pockmarked. This would suggest that her wagon train had more contact with American Indians than Haun indicates, but Haun keeps the details of these interactions to herself.

Bibliography and Additional Reading
  • McLynn, Frank. Wagons West: The Epic Story of America's Overland Trails. London: Cape, 2002. Print.
  • Robinson, Forrest G. “Introduction: Rethinking California.” Rethinking History 11.1 (2007): 1–9. Print.
  • Royce, Sarah. Across the Plains: Sarah Royce's Western Narrative. Ed. Jennifer Dawes Adkison. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 2009. Print.
  • Shetler, Douglas. “Monetary Aggregates Prior to the Civil War: A Closer Look.” Journal of Money, Credit; Banking 5.4 (1973): 1000–1006. Print.
  • Vehik, Susan C. “Conflict, Trade, and Political Development on the Southern Plains.” American Antiquity 67.1 (2002): 37–64. Print.
  • Wadsworth, Ginger. Words West: Voices of Young Pioneers. New York: Clarion, 2003. Print.
  • Brown, Sharon. “Women on the Overland Trails—A Historical Perspective.” Overland Journal 2.1 (1984): 35–39. Print.
  • Fryer, Judith. “The Anti-Mythical Journey: Westering Women's Diaries and Letters.” Old Northwest 9.1 (1983): 77–90. Print.
  • Schlissel, Lillian. “Mothers and Daughters on the Western Frontier.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 3.2 (1978): 29–33. Print.
  • Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey. New York: Schocken, 1992. Print.
  • Unruh, John David. The Plains Across: Emigrants, Wagon Trains, and the American West. London Pimlico, 1992. Print.
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