Scope and Contents
Title: Virginia Elizabeth Reed Letter Collection
Identifier/Call Number: MS.543
Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
Language of Material:
0.2 Linear feet
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1846-1955
Date (inclusive): 1846-1981
This collection includes letters written by Virginia Elizabeth Reed, a member of the Donner Party, at age 12, as well as manuscripts
written about her by George Wharton James and Frances Watkins. This collection also includes magazine articles and newspaper
clippings from 1912-1955 regarding Reed and other Donner Party survivors, and photocopies of two postcards Reed sent to her
grandchildren around 1918.
James, George Wharton, 1858-1923
Murphy, Virginia Reed, 1834-
Watkins, Frances E. (Frances Emma), 1899-1987
Processed by Glenna Schroeder, circa 1977-1981. Finding aid completed by Holly Rose Larson, NHPRC Processing Archivist, 2012
October 3, made possible through grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commissions (NHPRC).
Scope and Contents
This collection includes letters written by Virginia Elizabeth Reed (later Virginia Reed Murphy), a member of the Donner Party,
at age 12, as well as manuscripts written about her by George Wharton James and Frances Watkins. This collection also includes
magazine articles and newspaper clippings from 1912-1955 regarding Reed and other Donner Party survivors, and photocopies
from about 1981 of two postcards Reed sent to her grandchildren around 1918.
Virginia Elizabeth Reed Letter Collection, 1846-1981, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.543; [folder number] [folder title][date].
Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry National Center
as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader.
Collection is open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit http://theautry.org/research/research-rules-and-application
or contact library staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. An item-level list is available from the library staff.
Donation from George Wharton James estate, 1943 December and others through 1981.
Virginia Elizabeth Reed Murphy (1834-1921) was 12 years old when her family joined the Donner Party in 1846 to travel to California.
Daughter of Margaret Reed, step-daughter of James Reed, Virginia and her family were among the few survivors of the unfortunate
emigrant wagon train. Virginia later wrote about the events in her book
Across the Plains in the Donner Party. Once they reached California, the family settled in San Jose, where Virginia met and married John Marion Murphy in 1850.
They had nine children together.
- Copy – (photographs of pages) of letter to cousin 16 May 1847 describing ordeal of Donnor Party 7 pages.
- Printed copy, with introduction by George R. Stewart jr. Westways (December 1934), T.C.C. of letter, C. – handwritten out
– of letter
- Letter to Mrs. M. Gillespie – Edwardsville, Ill., 12 July 1846 – from Independence Rock, Kansas (written by Virginia) Original
Letter from Josephine Gillespie Prickett sending the letter to Mr. (Henson) Robinson 24 May 1895 (Letter contains information
on the death of Virginia’s grandmother and the early part of the Donnor party’s trip)
- . Material for biography by George Wharton James – much concerning her conversion to Catholicism
- Article proofs for Masterkey May 1944 by Frances E. Watkins re: Reed letter (the July one)
- Part of pages from Ave Maria magazine – Jan 1911 #1-4
- 21 c. Century Magazine v. 42 #53 pp. 409 – 426 – Narrative by V.E.B. Reed, Across the Plains with the Donnor Party 1846, With
reprint Notre Dame Qtrly v. 5 #3 Jun 1913
- Touring Topics (Westways) Dec 1934 by George R. Stewart Jr., Clipping Pasadena Star News 20 Feb 1918 “Story of the Donnor
Party as Told by Member” Virginia B. Reed Murphy by Charles E. Bond
- Misc group of clippings re: other survivors of the Donnor Party with Ruth Christenson correspondence 1981
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Frontier and pioneer life -– California
Overland journeys to the Pacific