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Primary documents in print | Online primary documents | Other online documents |
General bibliography | Children's/Young Adult Books

Below are listed only a few of the many books and articles about the Donner Party, plus a few with interesting information about related topics. The OCTA Bookstore carries a large selection of trail-related items, including histories, overland diaries, maps, and guidebooks, including many of the following titles.

Print anthologies of primary documents

Morgan, Dale L., ed. Overland in 1846: Diaries and Letters of the California-Oregon Trail. 2 vols. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993. Highly recommended.
Johnson, Kristin, ed. "Unfortunate Emigrants": Narratives of the Donner Party. Logan: Utah State University Press, 1996.
Korns, J. Roderic, and Dale L. Morgan, eds. West from Fort Bridger: The Pioneering of Immigrant Trails Across Utah, 1846-1850. Rev. and updated by Will Bagley & Harold Schindler. Logan: Utah State University Press, 1994.
Hall, Carroll D., ed. Donner Miscellany: 41 Diaries and Documents. San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1947.
Eberstadt, Edward, ed. A Transcript of the Fort Sutter Papers, Together with the Historical Commentaries Accompanying Them. 39 vols. in 1. New York: De Vinne Press, 1921. Vols. 26-27.

Online primary documents, 1846-1847

The Miller-Reed Diary, kept by Hiram Miller and James F. Reed, May 12-October 4, 1846.
What I Saw in California, Edwin Bryant's journal of the 1846 emigration.
James F. Reed letter, May 20, 1846.
Diary of Patrick Breen, November 20, 1846-March 1, 1847.
Digital images of Patrick Breen's diary at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
James F. Reed letter, January 12, 1847.
John Sinclair letter, January 29, 1847.
Ritchie-Tucker First Relief Diary, February-March 1847.
James F. Reed's Second Relief Diary, February-March 1847.
"Distressing News" (California Star newspaper article), February 13, 1847.
William O. Fallon's Fourth Relief Diary, April 1847.
J. H. Merryman-James F. Reed article, November 1847.
Documents by Donner rescuer Daniel Rhoads (letter, 1847, and memoir, 1873).

Other early documents online

The Emigrants' Guide to Oregon and California (1845), by Lansford W. Hastings.
William C. Graves reference, October 16, 1847.
Eleanor Graves McDonnell letter, May 26, 1850.
Articles about Louis Keseberg's later years in Sacramento.
Eliza W. Farnham's California, In-doors and Out (1856)
Mr. Graves and Family, December 5, 1867.
Eliza Donner Houghton reference, June 22, 1868.
William C. Graves article, December 30, 1875.
Antonio B. Rabbeson memoir, 1878.  
C. F. McGlashan's History of the Donner Party (1880)
Description of the Graves family, 1880.
Nicholas Clark biographical sketch, October 24, 1885.
Riley Septimus Moutrey account, August 1, 1888.
Jacob Wright Harlan's California, '46 to '88 (1888)
David Campbell's memoir,
Pioneer of 1846, originally published in 1889.
Articles about Jean-Baptiste Trudeau from the 1890s.
William C. Graves obituary, 1905.
Eliza Donner Houghton's The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate (1911) (Library of Congress site)
Another full-text version of  The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate (1911) (Project Gutenberg site)
Obituary of Elitha Donner Wilder and Patty Reed Lewis, July 4, 1923.
Isaac Mylar's
Early Days at the Mission San Juan Bautista (1929) References to the Breen family.
Heinrich Lienhard's A Pioneer at Sutter's Fort (1941) References to many early California pioneers.

General Bibliography

Anonymous Articles

"Big Bill and the Donner Ordeal." McCutchen, November 1978, 6-9.
"Biographical Obituary: Samuel C. Young—A Pioneer of 1846—An Enterprising Citizen." San Jose Pioneer, November 9, 1878, 2.
"A Horror Revived." Santa Cruz Daily Sentinel, August 31, 1888, 3. Reprinted in Crossroads 7:4 (Fall 1996).
"Nicholas Clark: One of the Rescuers of the Donner Party." Truckee Republican, October 24, 1885. Reprinted in Crossroads 7:1.
"Strange Coincidence." Sacramento Bee, July 4, 1923; reprinted in Donner Party Bulletin 11.
"A Survivor of the Downer Horror of 1846-7." Russian River Flag, December 30, 1875. Reprinted in Crossroads 7:2&3.

Alphabetically by Author

Altrocchi, Julia Cooley. The Old California Trail. Caldwell, ID: Caxton, 1945.
Angle, Paul M. "Here I have lived": A History of Lincoln's Springfield, 1821-1865. New ed. Chicago: Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, 1971.
Askenazy, Hans. Cannibalism: From Sacrifice to Survival. New York: Prometheus, 1994.
Bagley, Will. "'Every thing is Favorable! And God Is on Our Side': Samuel Brannan and the Conquest of California." Journal of Mormon History 23:2 (1997): 185-209.
Bagley, Will. "Lansford Warren Hastings: Scoundrel or Visionary?" Overland Journal 12:1 (1994): 12-26.
Baldwin, Louise. A Teacher's Guide to Patty Reed's Doll: the Story of the Donner Party. Davis, CA: Tomato Enterprises, 1996.
Bancroft, H. H. California Pioneer Index and Register, 1542-1848. Baltimore, MD: Regional Publishing, 1964.
Bancroft, H. H. History of California. Vol. 5, 1845-1848, The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft. San Francisco: History Company, 1886. p. 524-544.
Betts, Doris. The Sharp Teeth of Love. New York: Knopf, 1997. (Fiction)
Boggs, Lilburn W. "Emigrants to California." Oregon Spectator, July 8, 1847. Reprinted in "Unfortunate Emigrants".
Boggs, William M. "The Donner Party." San Francisco Examiner, August 25, 1884; reprinted in Crossroads 6:1 (1995): 5-9.
Burnett, Peter H. Recollections and Opinions of an Old Pioneer. New York: D. Appleton, 1880.
Breen, Patrick. Diary. November 20, 1846 - March 30, 1847. Reprinted in Overland in 1846.
Bryant, Edwin. What I Saw in California. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1985. Facsimile reprint of the 1848 original.
Burns, Ric. The Donner Party. Santa Monica, CA: Direct Cinema Ltd., 1992. (VHS).
Carter, Lyndia. "Charles Kelly and the Salt Desert Trail." Crossroads 7:2&3 (Spring/Summer 1996)
Cooper, Katherine Wakeman. "Patty Reed." Overland Monthly 69 (June 1917), 517-520. Excerpted in Crossroads 8:1 (Winter 1997).
Curran, Harold. Fearful Crossing: The Central Overland Trail Through Nevada. Las Vegas: Nevada Publications, 1987.
DeLafosse, Peter H., ed. Trailing the Pioneers: A Guide to Utah’s Emigrant Trails, 1829-1869. Utah State University Press, 1994.
DeVoto, Bernard. Year of Decision, 1846. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1943.
Diamond, Jared. "Living Through the Donner Party." Discover 13:3 (March 1992), 100-107.
Eberstadt, Edward, ed. A Transcript of the Fort Sutter Papers, Together with the Historical Commentaries Accompanying Them. 39 vols. in 1. New York: De Vinne Press, 1921. Vols. 26-27.
Egan, Ferol. "The Donner Party Pooper." Westways 70:10 (1978): 46-49, 65.
Ellsworth, Spencer. "The Graves Tragedy." In Records of Olden Times; or, Fifty Years on the Prairies, 588-632. Lacon, IL: Home Journal Steam Printing Establishment, 1880. Excerpted in Crossroads 7:2&3 (Spring/Summer 1996).
Enright, John Shea. "The Breens of San Juan Bautista: With a Calendar of Family Papers." California Historical Society Quarterly, 33:4 (December 1954): 349-359.
Fallon, William O.  Fourth Relief Diary. (April 1847)
Farnham, Eliza W. "Narrative of the Emigration of the Donner Party to California, in 1846." In California, In-doors and Out. New York: Dix, Edwards, 1856, p. 380-453. Reprinted in "Unfortunate Emigrants".
Franzwa, Gregory M. Maps of the California Trail. Foreword by Will Bagley. Tucson, AZ: Patrice Press, 1999.
Franzwa, Gregory M. The Oregon Trail Revisited. Silver anniversary ed. Tucson, AZ: Patrice Press, 1997.
Graves, Mary Ann. Letter to Levi Fosdick, May 22, 1847. Illinois Gazette 1847, 2-3. Reprinted in "Unfortunate Emigrants".
Graves, William C. "Crossing the Plains in '46." Russian River Flag, April 26, May 3, 10, 17, 1877. Reprinted in "Unfortunate Emigrants".
Graydon, Charles K. Trail of the First Wagons Over the Sierra Nevada. Gerald, MO: Patrice Press, 1986.
Grayson, Donald K. "Donner Party Deaths: A Demographic Assessment." Journal of Anthropological Research 46:3 (1990): 223-242.
Hall, Carroll D., ed. Donner Miscellany: 41 Diaries and Documents. San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1947.
Hardesty, Donald L. The Archaeology of the Donner Party. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1997.
Hardesty, Donald L. "Donner Party Archaeology." Overland Journal 10: 3 (1992): 19-26.
Harlan, Jacob Wright. California, '46 to '88. San Francisco: Bancroft, 1888. Excerpted in "Unfortunate Emigrants".
Hastings, Lansford W. The Emigrants' Guide to Oregon and California . Bedford, MA: Applewood Books, 1994. Reprint of the 1845 edition.
Hawkins, Bruce R., and David M. Madsen. Excavation of the Donner-Reed Wagons: Historic Archaeology along the Hastings Cutoff. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1999. Paperback reprint, originally published in 1990.
Hill, William E. The California Trail, Yesterday and Today. 2nd ed. Boise, ID: Tamarack Books, 1993.
Houghton, Eliza Donner. The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate. Introduction by Kristin Johnson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997. Reprint of 1911 original.
Johnson, Kristin. "1879: Virginia Reed Tells It Like It Was." Donner Party Bulletin 2.
Johnson, Kristin. "Augustus Spitzer." Donner Party Bulletin 11.
Johnson, Kristin. "Baptiste Who?" Crossroads 7: 4 (Fall 1996): 6.
Johnson, Kristin. "Bertha Keseberg Mystery Solved." Donner Party Bulletin 14.
Johnson, Kristin. "Bizarre Story About the Donner Party." Donner Party Bulletin 1.
Johnson, Kristin. "The Blaisdell Connection." Donner Party Bulletin 4.
Johnson, Kristin. "The Blaisdell Connection Revisited." Donner Party Bulletin 13.
Johnson, Kristin. "'Boonhelm the Cannibal' Mystery Solved." Crossroads 9:1 (1998): 8.
Johnson, Kristin. "Donner Party Books On the Way." Donner Party Bulletin 8.
Johnson, Kristin. "Eleanor Graves McDonnell." Crossroads 7, no. 2&3 (Spring/Summer 1996): 8-9.
Johnson, Kristin. "Introduction to the Bison Books Edition." In Eliza Donner Houghton, The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997).
Johnson, Kristin. "Keseberg and the Buffalo Robe." Crossroads 7, no. 2&3 (Spring/Summer 1996): 17-18.
Johnson, Kristin. "Looking for Luke in All the Wrong Places." Crossroads 7, no 2&3 (Spring/Summer 1996): 15.
Johnson, Kristin. "Luke Halloran." Crossroads 7:2&3 (Spring/Summer 1996): 12-15.
Johnson, Kristin. "The Miller-Reed Diary." Donner Party Bulletin 5.
Johnson, Kristin. "The Missing Keseberg Child." Donner Party Bulletin 14.
Johnson, Kristin. "The Murphy Cabin Vials." Donner Party Bulletin 7.
Johnson, Kristin. "'New' Donner Party Relics." Donner Party Bulletin 7.
Johnson, Kristin. "The Pioneer Palace Car: Adventures in Western Mythmaking." Crossroads 4:3 (Summer 1994), 5-8.
Johnson, Kristin. "Tamsen's Other Children." Donner Party Bulletin 1.
Johnson, Kristin. "What Is It About the Donner Party?" American Survival Guide 20:9 (September 1998), 58-59, 66-67.
Johnson, Kristin. "When did the Graves Family Join the Donner Party?" Crossroads 7:2&3 (Spring/Summer 1996), 10-11.
Johnson, Kristin. "William B. Ide Describes Palace Car in 1845." Crossroads 6:4 (Fall 1995), 7-8.
Johnson, Kristin, comp. "Some Keseberg Clippings." Donner Party Bulletin 6.
Johnson, Kristin, ed. "Unfortunate Emigrants": Narratives of the Donner Party. Logan: Utah State University Press, 1996.
Kelly, Charles. Salt Desert Trails. Edited by Peter H. DeLafosse. Salt Lake City: Western Epics, 1996. Hastings Cutoff Sesquicentennial ed.; originally published in 1930.
Kelly, Charles, and Dale L. Morgan. Old Greenwood: The Story of Caleb Greenwood, Trapper, Pathfinder, and Early Pioneer. Georgetown, CA: Talisman, 1965.
Keys, Ancel, Josef Brozek, Austin Henschel, and Henry Longstreet Taylor. The Biology of Human Starvation. 2 vols. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1950.
King, Joseph A. "Luis and Salvador: Unsung Heroes of the Donner Party." The Californians 13:2 (1996), 20-21.
King, Joseph A. Winter of Entrapment: A New Look at the Donner Party. Lafayette, CA: K&K Publications, 1998. 3rd ed.
Korns, J. Roderic, and Dale L. Morgan, eds. West from Fort Bridger: The Pioneering of Immigrant Trails Across Utah, 1846-1850. Revised and updated by Will Bagley and Harold Schindler. Logan: Utah State University Press, 1994.
Lewis, Donovan. Pioneers of California: True Stories of Early Settlers in the Golden State. San Francisco: Scottwall Associates, 1993.
Lienhard, Heinrich. From St. Louis to Sutter's Fort. Translated by Erwin G. Gudde and Elisabeth K. Gudde. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961.
Limburg, Peter. Deceived: The Story of the Donner Party. Pacifica, CA: IPS Books, 1998.
McCurdy, Stephen A. "Epidemiology of Disaster: The Donner Party (1846-1847)." Western Journal of Medicine 160:4 (1994): 338-342.
McDonnell, Eleanor Graves. "Eleanor Graves McDonnell Letter, 1850."Crossroads 7:2&3 (Spring/Summer 1996), p. 9
McGlashan, C. F. From the Desk of Truckee's C. F. McGlashan. Edited by M. Nona McGlashan. 2nd ed. Truckee, CA: Sierra State Parks Foundation, [1996].
McGlashan, C. F. History of the Donner Party: A Tragedy of the Sierra. 2nd ed. (1880) Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1947.
McGlashan, M. Nona. Give me a Mountain Meadow: The Life of Charles Fayette McGlashan. Fresno: Pioneer Press, 1977.
McKellar, George A. "History of the McKellar Ranches at Pilot Peak." Crossroads 6:4 (Fall 1994): 4-5.
McKenna, K. C. Survival: A Novel of the Donner Party. New York: Jove Books, 1994. (Fiction)
Merritt, Robert E. "The Rescuers, John and Daniel Rhoads." Dogtown Territorial Quarterly, Summer 1996, 8-9, 44-47.
Merryman, J. H. "Narrative of the Sufferings of a Company of Emigrants in the Mountains of California, in the Winter of '46 and '7." Illinois Journal, December 1847.
Miller, Hiram O., and James F. Reed. Miller-Reed Diary. Published with annotations in Donner Miscellany, West from Fort Bridger, Overland in 1846.
Mobley, Richard Scott. "A Magic Mirror": Representations of the Donner Party, 1846-1997. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California-Santa Cruz, 1997.
Morgan, Dale L., ed. Overland in 1846: Diaries and Letters of the California-Oregon Trail. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993. 2 vols. Reprint; originally published by Talisman Press in 1963. An invaluable collection of source documents for the emigration of 1846 and the Donner Party .
Mullen, Frank. The Donner Party Chronicles: A Day-by-Day Account of a Doomed Wagon Train, 1846-1847. Introduction by Will Bagley. Reno: Nevada Humanities Committee, 1997. Reviewed in Donner Party Bulletin 3.
Murphy, Virginia E. B. Reed, and James F. Reed. Across the Plains in the Donner Party, with letters by James F. Reed. Edited by Karen Zeinert. North Haven, CT: Linnet Books, 1996. For a scholarly treatment of the same documents, see West from Fort Bridger.
Murphy, Virginia Reed. "Across the Plains in the Donner Party (1891)." Century Illustrated Magazine 4:3 (July 1891), p. 409-426. Reprinted in "Unfortunate Emigrants".
Neelands, Barbara. "Reason P. Tucker: The Quiet Pioneer." Napa County Historical Society Gleanings 4:2 (1989): 21.
Rabbeson, Antonio B. "An Overland Emigrant of 1846: Antonio B. Rabbeson's Account." Crossroads 7:2&3 (Spring/Summer 1996).
Reed, James F. Letter, May 20, 1846. Crossroads 8:1 (Winter 1997).
Reed, James F. Second Relief Diary, February-March 1847.
Reed, James F. "The Starved, Snowbound Emigrants of 1846." Pacific Rural Press, March 25 & April 1, 1871. Reprinted in "Unfortunate Emigrants".
Ritchie, M. D. and Reason P. Tucker. First Relief Diary. (February-March 1847)
Russell, Sharman Apt. Hunger:  an unnatural history. New York : Basic Books, 2005.
Schmidt, Jo Ann Brant. "The Beginning of the Story." Donner Party Bulletin 13.
Schmidt, Jo Ann Brant. "Who Was Captain George Donner?" Donner Party Bulletin 3.
Sinclair, John. "Sufferings of the California Emigrants." Ohio Observer (Hudson, Ohio), October 16, 1847. Reprinted in Crossroads 8:4 (Fall 1997).
Steed, Jack. The Donner Party Rescue Site: Johnson's Ranch on Bear River. Rev. and expanded ed. Sacramento: Graphic, 1993.
Stewart, George R. The California Trail: An Epic With Many Heroes. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962.
Stewart, George R. Donner Pass and Those Who Crossed It... Menlo Park: Lane, 1964.
Stewart, George R. Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party. 2nd ed. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.
Tannahill, Reay. Flesh and Blood: A History of the Cannibal Complex. New York: Stein and Day, 1975.
Tea, Roy D., ed. The Hastings Cutoff: Grantsville to Donner Springs, May 1996. Salt Lake City, UT: [Utah Crossroads Chapter, Oregon-California Trails Association], 1996.
Tea, Roy D., ed. Hastings Longtripp: A Hastings Cutoff Trail Guide from Donner Spring to the Humboldt River. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Crossroads, Oregon-California Trails Association, 1996.
Thornton, Jessy Quinn. Oregon and California in 1848. 2 vols. New York: Harper & Bros., 1849. Excerpted in "Unfortunate Emigrants".
Unruh, John D., Jr. The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993.
Van Doren, William H. "That Old Grave." Blue Rapids Times (Blue Rapids, KS), August 15,1895. Reprinted in Crossroads 8:1 (1997): 6.
West, Naida. "The Tragic Life of Elitha Donner." Sierra Heritage 13:3 (November/December 1993), 30-33.
Wexler, Alan. Atlas of Westward Expansion. New York: Facts On File, 1995.
Williams, Jacqueline. Wagon Wheel Kitchens. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 1993.
Wright, Rachel Elizabeth Cyrus. The Early Upper Napa Valley. Calistoga: Sharpsteen Museum, 1991.

Children's/ Young Adult Books

Anderson, Edna Mae. Tamsen: The Story of the Donner Party. Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1973. (Fiction.)
Boeve, Eunice. Trapped!: The True Story of a Pioneer Girl. Unionville, NY: Royal Fireworks Press, 1995. (Fiction.)
Calabro, Marian. The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party. New York: Clarion Books, 1999. (History.)
Chapman, Mabel H. At Great Price: The Story of Tamsen Donner. North Hills, CA: Mabel Chapman, 1992. (Fiction)
Laurgaard, Rachel K. Patty Reed's Doll: The Story of the Donner Party. Fairfield, Calif: Tomato Enterprises, 1989. (Fiction.)
Lavender, David S. Snowbound: The Tragic Story of the Donner Party. New York: Holiday House, 1996. (History)
Philbrick, Rodman. The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds: The Donner Party Expedition. (Dear America series) New York: Scholastic, 2001. (Fiction)
Mercati, Cynthia. Longest Journey: The Story of the Donner Party (Cover-to-Cover Chapter Books: Settling the West.) Perfection Learning, 2002. ISBN: 0756904269. (History.)
Rudolph, Marian. Lovina’s Song. Marin Co. Calif.: Citrus Bay Press, 1999. (Fiction.)
Seguin, Marilyn W. One Eternal Winter: The Story of What Happened at Donner Pass, Winter of 1846-47. Boston: Branden Books, 2001. (Fiction)
Sutton, Margaret. Palace Wagon Family: A True Story of the Donner Party. New York: Knopf, 1957. (Fiction.)
Wachtel, Roger . The Donner Party. ("Cornerstones of Freedom" series.) New York: Children's Press, 2003. (History)
Welvaert, Scott R. The Donner Party. (Graphic Library Disasters in History series) Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2006. (Graphic history)
Werner, Emmy E. "The Children of the Donner Party." In Pioneer Children on the Journey West, 24-53. Boulder: Westview Press, 1995. (History)

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