by Donna Schaal LTLS Consultant
Every year I take a long vacation with my sister. We go to places we have never been and I can't wait to soak up the local authors and publications from the region that we visit. This year, I am off to the Old West again. So, in the spirit of riding the range, I have dug out once again some classics for foraging along the Oregon Trail
Traveling along the Oregon Trail through a wonderful landscape that includes Chimney Rock, South Pass and the Dalles, I am fascinated with how much people endured in the attempt to make improvements in their lives. I prefer to read first hand accounts, diaries, and letters that focus on women to get the feeling of what life was like during that migration.
If you have never read an original Oregon Trail diary, I highly recommend the Covered Wagon Women series from Kenneth L. Holmes. It covers the years from 1840-1883 in 10 volumes. This series reprints first-hand accounts from the women that travelled the Trail. The details include daily living, what they saw on the trail, hardships endured and loved ones lost. Another good source of information is the book by Susan G. Butruille, Women's Voices from the Oregon Trail.
I enjoy reading about all types of women from all different walks of life. Women like Belle Starr, Martha Black, Libby Meaman, Mary Chestnut - all of which blazed different trails through difficult times.
These types of diaries and histories can help put our trying times in perspective. So the next time I break a nail typing on my computer or forget to charge my cell phone or I can't find a decent pen to write with - maybe just maybe - I'll put it in perspective. Here's to summer reading and long vacations!