Go West, young woman!
Best of Covered Wagon Women – Volume 2: Emigrant Girls on the Overland Trails
Edited and Annotated by Kenneth L. Holmes, with a new introduction by Melody M. Miyamoto
Go West, young woman isn’t a phrase heard often when discussing the history of America. Diaries and letters of women on the overland trails in the mid- to late 19th century are now treasured documents and 11 selections from the multi-volume “Covered Wagon Women” series present the best first-person trail accounts penned by women in their teens who traveled west between 1846 and 1898. Ranging in age from 11 to 19, unmarried and without children of their own, these diarists had experiences different from those of older women who bore heavier responsibilities on the trail. The Overland Trails journeyed from Northern Missouri west to California and Oregon – across Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Iowa – and through the Columbia Gorge between Oregon and Washington states. A southern route went across Texas, into lower New Mexico, Arizona and southern California.
These letters and diaries reflect both the unique perspective of youthful optimism and the experiences common among all female emigrants. Young women write of friendship and family, trail hardships and explorations such as visits to Indian gravesites. Some, like Sallie Hester, even write of enjoying the company of men, and many speculate about marriage prospects.
Two selections in this book are newly published, having appeared only in limited-distribution collector’s editions of the original series. Readers who were captivated by the first Best of Covered Wagon Women collection, will enjoy this volume’s focus on the youthful travelers, which adds a fresh perspective to life on the trail.
About the authors: Kenneth L. Holmes (1914-95) was Professor of History at Oregon College of Education in Monmouth (now Western Oregon University). He edited and compiled the 11 volumes of Covered Wagon Women. Melody M. Miyamoto is a Professor of History at Collin College in McKinney, Texas. Her articles have appeared in Overland Journal and the Journal of Documentary Editing and in the Encyclopedia of Immigration and Migration in the American West.
Artwork on the cover of this book: Detail from “It was the newest, strangest, most delightful, sternest, most wonderful thing in the world – the Iowa prairie” by N.C. Wyeth, courtesy of the National Park Service and Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.
This book is a University of Oklahoma Press edition. Copyright 2010.
Softcover. 253 pages.