Finding Aid to the Virginia Elizabeth Reed Letter Collection MS.543

Finding aid prepared by Holly Rose Larson
Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
234 Museum Drive
Los Angeles, CA, 90065-5030
323-221-2164
rroom@theautry.org
2012 October 3


Title: Virginia Elizabeth Reed Letter Collection
Identifier/Call Number: MS.543
Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 0.2 Linear feet (12 folders)
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1846-1955
Date (inclusive): 1846-1981
Abstract: 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.
creator: James, George Wharton, 1858-1923
creator: Murphy, Virginia Reed, 1834-
creator: Watkins, Frances E. (Frances Emma), 1899-1987

Processing history

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.

Preferred citation

Virginia Elizabeth Reed Letter Collection, 1846-1981, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.543; [folder number] [folder title][date].

Use

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.

Access

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 rroom@theautry.org. An item-level list is available from the library staff.

Acquisition

Donation from George Wharton James estate, 1943 December and others through 1981.

Biographical note

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.

Inventory

Inventory

  1. Copy – (photographs of pages) of letter to cousin 16 May 1847 describing ordeal of Donnor Party 7 pages.
  2. Printed copy, with introduction by George R. Stewart jr. Westways (December 1934), T.C.C. of letter, C. – handwritten out – of letter
  3. 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)
  4. . Material for biography by George Wharton James – much concerning her conversion to Catholicism
  5. Article proofs for Masterkey May 1944 by Frances E. Watkins re: Reed letter (the July one)
  6. Part of pages from Ave Maria magazine – Jan 1911 #1-4
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. Misc group of clippings re: other survivors of the Donnor Party with Ruth Christenson correspondence 1981

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Articles
Clippings
Correspondence
Donner Party
Frontier and pioneer life -– California
Manuscripts
Overland journeys to the Pacific
Overland travel
Photocopies