Julie Roy Jeffrey analyzes how wives and mothers experienced the journey west during the middle of the 19th Century. Jeffrey breaks the book into three parts. She discusses the actual wagon journeys on the California Trail, Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail in great detail. Her focus is on women's experiences during the journey. Jeffrey mentions the jobs that women had on the trail and the gender roles that governed their relationships in wagon companies. Jeffrey uses personal letters and diaries as the source for most of her information. She also uses these sources to present women's feelings about the journey and the men that they were traveling with. The other two sections of the book deal with the events that made families decide to move west. Jeffrey mentions the role women had in the decision making process and the influence they had over their husbands. Jeffrey also analyzes the jobs that women took on the farm, when they arrived on new land in the west. She looks at the new responsibilities women had to take on in order to get a farm started and she also shows the reader the ways in which families maintained traditional gender roles in a new environment.
This report prepared by Mark Simpson