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Women in the Archives Research Guide

Western Areas

During the early 1800s and through the early 1900s, there were multiple migration booms within the United States as new states and territories were established and the nation expanded. Women joined their husbands and children in an attempt to create a life in a new place, visit relatives, or simply see the sights. As a Western-focused archive, Special Collections contains many materials that focus on Western history. These travel materials include scrapbooks, photographs, and diaries that help illustrate women's journeys.

Ellen Louisa Gordon Fletcher Papers, 1866-1910

Fletcher's collection includes transcribed letters and a diary regarding her travel from New York to the Montana Territory in the mid-1800s. Her diary covers her travels on train, steamboat, and overland on the Platte River Road and the Bozeman Trail. 

Della J. Rowland Reminiscence, circa 1965

This collection is composed of a reminiscence about the Rowland family's travels in 1899 and 1900 from Nebraska to Montana. The reminiscence contains a few details on the family's fellow travelers along their route. The collection also includes details of Adelaska Rowland's later life.

Edna Tracy White Papers, 1869-1969

Among other materials, the White Papers include a diary in which Sarah B. Tracy details her journey to Montana from Illinois by train, steamboat, and wagon. Literary productions within the collection discuss this trip further as well as detailing trips through Yellowstone National Park.

Sarah Raymond Herndon Papers

In 1865, the Raymond family traveled from Missouri to Virginia City by wagon train. Sarah kept a diary of the trip, which was later published as "Days on the Road" in 1902. The collection contains this diary and miscellaneous other papers, including letters, newspaper articles, a stallion catalog, and photographs.

Fisher Family Record

This collection is a combined transcription and genealogy essay. Along other materials, it contains a lengthy letter by Flora Baker Gardner detailing the Gardner family's trip from Missouri to Montana both by steamboat and by wagon teams.

Caroline McGill Collection, 1909-1958

The Caroline McGill Collection contains transcriptions of McGill's journey across Europe during 1910-1911 as well as a variety of tourist ephemera from Gallatin County, Montana, the Rocky Mountains, and areas within the Northern Plains. Key subjects include national parks and dude ranches.

Martha Roe Diary, 1864 May 4-1864 September 8

Martha's diary illustrates her journey from Grinnell, Iowa to Council Bluffs and the Platte River road. Her travels ended in Bannock, Montana Territory. The diary includes routine daily activities and descriptions of fellow travelers, as well as encounters with Plains Indians.

Elise Furer Musser Yellowstone and Alaska tourist letters, 1928

Musser, a Utah state senator, details her journey with her family through Montana, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest. Of note are her descriptions of Yellowstone, in which she details an encounter with a mother bear and her cubs.

Charlotte Stowe Autobiography

The Stowe autobiography consists of a large handwritten manuscript composed by Charlotte and a smaller typewritten manuscript with handwritten addendums. In this manuscript, Charlotte tells the story of her life. Of note is her long overland journey to Bozeman from New York. 

Elizabeth E. Busick O'Neil Reminiscence and Photographs, 1907-1939

The O'Neil Collection contains a typed transcription of a reminiscence composed by O'Neill about her wagon journey from Omaha, Nebraska to Virginia City, Montana Territory. The reminiscence also includes details and photographs of O'Neil's later life in Virginia City and Diamond County. 

Evelyn Webb Carpenter Diary, 1936 June 22-1936 July 26

This collection details Carpenter's automobile journey from Vermont to California and back with her mother, Mrs. Angie Taylor, and Miss Ruth Whitney. Topics of the diary include a brief stay in Yellowstone National Park, impressions on the countryside and accommodations, and information on fellow travelers. 

Irene Thatcher Scrapbooks, 1948-1966

The Thatcher collection contains two different scrapbooks. One deals with Montana pioneers, while the other is a detailed account of the Montana Centennial train and its journey. This second scrapbook contains newspaper articles, memorabilia, and passenger lists collected and assembled by Thatcher.

Mary Hunter Doane Papers, 1860-1952

Among other materials, the Hunter Papers include a handwritten reminiscence by Susan C. Hunter regarding the family's journey to Montana Territory and early residence in Virginia City. This family took the Bozeman Trail to Virginia City in 1864.