Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849 (Covered Wagon Women, #1)” as Want to Read:
Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849 (Covered Wagon Women, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849 (Covered Wagon Women #1)

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  223 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Bison Books (first published 1983)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Covered Wagon Women, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Covered Wagon Women

Elsie by Barbara Anne WaiteWe Pointed Them North by E.C. "Teddy Blue" AbbottLetters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt StewartA Texas Cowboy by Charles A. SiringoRoughing It by Mark Twain
The Old West in First Person
13th out of 119 books — 26 voters
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownEmpire of the Summer Moon by S.C. GwynneMayflower by Nathaniel PhilbrickElsie by Barbara Anne WaiteWomen's Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel
The American Frontier
34th out of 336 books — 73 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 931)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Cindy Knoke
Oct 07, 2012 Cindy Knoke rated it it was amazing
“Covered Wagon Women” is a fascinating non-fiction account of fourteen pioneer women traveling west in the 1840’s. The book was edited and compiled by historian Kenneth L. Holmes. It is a remarkable book in that it consists of primary source, unedited diary entries, letters and other correspondence. The editor left the women’s narratives unedited as the women actually wrote them, replete with original syntax, spelling, and punctuation, and the mistakes made therein.

There are additional "Covered
aPriL does feral sometimes
‘Covered Wagon Women’ is not only a collection of letters and excerpted diaries written by women who traveled across America in covered wagons. I discovered there are informative introductions to each woman as well, written by researchers who tracked, through official records births, deaths, marriages and real estate documents, supporting information which fills out the historical context behind the letters and diaries. The researchers also interviewed descendants. There is a map included and it ...more
Jul 08, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: womens-history
I have ready all 11 books in this series. The early volumes are a tough read, but very interesting. The early travelers weren't always the best school educated women so their entries are short, but still interesting. The later volumes usually have entries that are more story like in their account of their daily chores/events and I seriously wanted to hear more about the women's life after they got to CA, but.... either they stopped writing (they were busy with their new life) or they just weren' ...more
Jul 15, 2012 Kati rated it liked it
I read bits and pieces of this book containing diary entries from women who traveled west in the 1800's -- many of their entries are very interesting. Reading things like this really makes one appreciate our modern conveniences such as automobiles. To think they only traveled as far in a day as we can in roughly 1/2 an hour really makes you realize just how long these trips took.
Sep 01, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that makes you appreciate our ancestors who crossed the continent to settle the West. Women had worked so hard to keep their families fed and cared for while traversing through rough country and tough times. Every time I cross the desert in a car, on a road, with air conditioning I think of these women and admire them.
Jun 06, 2014 Sue rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-women
Diaries & letters from the women who, with their families, traveled the covered wagon trail to the Western U.S. The book gives us a hint of the extreme strength it took to make this arduous, long journey and the dangers they faced but they did it almost as "matter of everyday life". Incredible stories!
Mar 20, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-finished
I am a sucker for trail diaries, so it is hard to be objective, but this was pretty great. It includes advice from a member of the Donner Party not to take any cutoffs, and relates the story of an angry woman traveling overland who torched her family's wagon.
Gail Pool
Sep 12, 2015 Gail Pool rated it it was amazing
Like other American youngsters, I learned about the 19th-century pioneers heading west seeking a new and better life. But my knowledge about their travels was limited, an abstract concept. I certainly had no sense of the remarkable journeys fleshed out by the pioneers themselves in these letters and diaries.

Covered Wagon Women 1840-1849—the first in an eleven-volume series—brings together writings of thirteen pioneer women, including survivors of the Donner Party that went so tragically astray.
Derinda Babcock
Mar 07, 2014 Derinda Babcock rated it liked it
All of the books in this series were very helpful for my research. The letters allowed me to read first-hand accounts of life on the trail from different women's perspectives. If I were to rate it based on helpfulness, I'd have given the book at least 4 stars,

I gave it an overall 3 star rating for enjoyment, because some of the letters were hard to read due to non-standard spelling and punctuation (though this was authentic), and some of the letters were repetitive in content (they were daily j
Jun 10, 2014 Jackie rated it it was amazing
This was a very good book. I like that the diaries were printed in the original spelling and not edited. I honestly don't know how these women kept their sanity with all the hardships they faced.
Feb 08, 2016 Janice rated it liked it
Interesting read. This is a scholarly publication and reads a little dry but the diaries themselves are fascinating.
Oct 20, 2014 Gaile rated it really liked it
Diaries and letters of women traveling west in covered wagons.
Wes Redfield
Apr 10, 2016 Wes Redfield rated it it was amazing
Excellent personal accounts of women on the Oregon Trail.
Karina Halle
May 25, 2012 Karina Halle rated it really liked it
I read this for researchy purposes for an upcoming novel - almost got through it all, then had to return to library (I'll be getting it out again when it comes time to write the book). It's obviously a history book, but one I found fascinating thanks to the actual letters written by pioneering women. It really gives you a glimpse into the day-to-day life and personalities of the women who came out West.

And yes, as per my childhood hours spent playing The Oregon Trail, a lot of them really did d
Oct 11, 2011 Marty rated it it was amazing
I think this is one I have in a box under the bed to read. I'm working on genealgy and this brings the age of my great-grandmother to life. I've read many books along this line and enjoyed each of them.
I loved this book and learned so much from these women. These wives, mothers, daughters and midwives were such brave and courageous women. I loved reading their stories and learning from them.
Holly Weiss
Letters and diaries from women who went west in the covered wagons. A difficult read. Some stories were despairing, others inspiring. I plan to read subsequent volumes in 2014.
Apr 08, 2010 Connie rated it liked it
Very interesting, but I did not read the entire book because the letters became tedious. I would have preferred an actual narrative or even historical fiction.
Linda Klager
Jul 23, 2015 Linda Klager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm fascinated to hear stories of what the women who traveled West experienced. There are so many great and interesting stories in this book.
Dec 19, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it
I enjoy this book, but it is one of those that I put down and come back to every once in a while. It's not a story, so it's easy to read in bits.
Margaret Boehm
Feb 08, 2010 Margaret Boehm rated it it was amazing
Excellent book on the emotions, relationships and life of different women who went on the covered wagons from the east to the west. Excellent
May 20, 2010 Lori rated it it was amazing
I have only read 1 book in this series, but would love to own the WHOLE set. Yes, they are that good.
Holly Weiss
Nov 17, 2013 Holly Weiss rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Tough read about early pioneer experiences. So much longing for news of family back east and deprivation.
Dec 08, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Very interesting stories. I don't know if I would have the courage or stamina to go through such a trip.
Jul 07, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it
A fairly decent collection of letters and diary entries by the women who pioneered our country.
Andd Becker
Sep 26, 2012 Andd Becker rated it really liked it
The diary is a wonderful way to grasp thoughts and feelings of pioneers on the Oregon Trail.
 Barb Bailey
Letters and partial diaries of women who traveled West in covered wagons from 1840-1849.
Jan 04, 2011 Noel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Volume 1 - wonderful, rich writings from the women who crossed the prairies.
Cassi marked it as to-read
May 22, 2016
Kat marked it as to-read
May 21, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 31 32 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Women in the old West 1 1 Apr 10, 2016 02:48AM  
  • Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey
  • Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier
  • Pioneer Women: The Lives of Women on the Frontier
  • Women's Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present
  • Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier
  • Rachel Calof's Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains
  • Mary Chesnut: A Diary From Dixie
  • Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam
  • Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party
  • Journals and Letters
  • War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars
  • Letters of a Woman Homesteader
  • The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West
  • No Life for a Lady
  • The Gentle Tamers: Women of the Old Wild West
  • The West
  • Violet to Vita: The Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, 1910-1921
  • Captured by the Indians: 15 Firsthand Accounts, 1750-1870

Other Books in the Series

Covered Wagon Women (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Covered Wagon Women, Volume 2: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1850
  • Covered Wagon Women, Volume 3: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1851
  • Covered Wagon Women, Volume 4: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1852: The California Trail
  • Covered Wagon Women, Volume 5: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1852: The Oregon Trail
  • Covered Wagon Women, Volume 6: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1853-1854
  • Covered Wagon Women, Volume 7: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1854-1860
  • Covered Wagon Women, Volume 8: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1862-1865
  • Covered Wagon Women, Volume 9: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1864-1868
  • Covered Wagon Women, Volume 10: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1875-1883
  • Covered Wagon Women, Volume 11: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1879-1903

Share This Book