Publication date: 2006
$18.95Add to cart
The Archaeology of the Donner Party
The tragic saga of the Donner Party has inspired both legend and scholarship ever since the survivors were rescued from the High Sierra snows in the spring of 1847. When archaeologist Donald L. Hardesty and four colleagues—a historian and three other archaeologists—turned their collective attention to the ordeal of the Donner Party, the result was an original and sometimes surprising new study of this pioneer group and their place in the history of overland migration.
Now available for the first time in paperback, The Archaeology of the Donner Party combines the fruits of meticulous investigation of the Sierra Nevada sites with scientific analysis of artifacts discovered there and interpretation of the documents of the party and the memoirs of survivors. Through this interdisciplinary approach, Hardesty and his colleagues offer new insight into the ordeal of these ill-fated emigrants and demonstrate the vital role that archaeology can play in illuminating and expanding our understanding of historical events.
Contributions by Michael Brodhead, Donald K. Grayson, Susan Lindstrom, and George L. Miller.
“The Archaeology of the Donner Party is a significant book, not simply because it provides new insights regarding a well-covered episode of western history, but also because it demonstrates how historians and archaeologists can work together to arrive at conclusions of benefit to both disciplines. The result is good history and good archaeology.” —Western Historical Quarterly
"Taken as a whole, this new work on the Donner Party tragedy is the best to come off the press and should be part of every private library in the state." —Phillip I. Earl, Las Vegas Review Journal, April 20, 1997
"This book goes a long way toward humanizing and de-mystifying an episode that over the years has so often assumed a larger-than-life dimension in contemporary American popular culture." —Jeffrey R. Parsons, American Antiquity, 1997
"The Archaeology of the Donner Party provides a perspective that neither personal reminiscences nor history could provide. . . . This important book certainly indicates that there are still a few gems to be mined by studying the Donner Party." —Michael Gillis, California Historian, Spring 1999
"Research and archeological techniques employed in these excavations were impeccable." —J.M. Lewis, CHOICE, November 1997
"Hardesty might be called the champion of people who have no written records to define their existence." —Gaye Delaplane, Reno Gazette-Journal, 25 January 1998
List of Figures
List of Tables
The Donner Party Saga
The Donner Party and Overland Emigration, 1840-1860
Archaeology of the Murphy Cabin
Archaeology of the Alder Creek Camp
Donner Party Baggage
New Directions in Donner Party Research
Appendix 1: Zooarchaeology of the Murphy Cabin Site
Appendix 2: Ceramics from the Alder Creek Camp
Appendix 3: The Timing of the Donner Party Deaths