The Archaeology of the Donner Party

Front Cover
University of Nevada Press, Oct 18, 2005 - History - 156 pages
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.
 

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Contents

The Donner partys route
2
The two Donner party mountain camps
8
Donner Lake
13
The Donner Party and Overland Emigration 18401860
19
The rock at the Murphy cabin site by Peter Goin
36
FIGURES
37
The stratigraphy of the Murphy cabin site
38
Catholic religious medal from the Murphy cabin site
44
Table utensils from the Alder Creek campsite
84
Percussion caps from the Alder Creek campsite
92
Conical bullet from the Murphy cabin site
93
Robinson button from the Murphy cabin site back
96
Tombac button from the Alder Creek campsite front
98
Beads from the Murphy cabin site
99
Earring and brooch from the Murphy cabin site
101
Pocket knife from the Murphy cabin site
105

Artists reconstruction of the Murphy cabin
50
Archaeology of the Alder Creek Camp
53
The George Donner tree by Peter Goin
61
The 1990 Alder Creek campsite excavation
63
The 1990 Alder Creek campsite excavation
64
Plan of Alder Creek campsite excavation 6667
66
The anthill stump locality
71
Brass military emblem found at the Alder Creek campsite
73
United States liberty penny dated 1830 from the Alder Creek campsite
74
Donner Party Baggage
76
Red transferprinted whiteware from the Murphy cabin site
83
Clay tobacco pipes from the Murphy cabin site
107
Hand tools from the Alder Creek campsite
108
New Directions in Donner Party Research
110
The Timing of Donner Party Deaths
124
Deaths within the Sierran encampments of the Donner party
128
The relationship between age and daystodeath for the Donner party males who reached the Sierra Nevada
129
The relationship between age and daystodeath for the Donner
130
party females who reached the Sierra Nevada
131
Literature Cited
145
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Donald L. Hardesty is Mamie Kleberg Professor of Historic Preservation and Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno, and author or editor of six other books.

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