Special Feature

Sex and Death on the Western Emigrant Trail: The Biology of Three American Tragedies
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sex and Death on the Western Emigrant Trail: The Biology of Three American Tragedies

In honor of Pioneer Day this coming weekend, we are featuring the book review, "Sex and Death on the Western Emigrant Trail: The Biology of Three American Tragedies." This book is about survival rates between the handcart companies. Below is the abstract. Follow the link for the full review. 

Who would be more likely to survive in a wilderness setting, beset by starvation and extreme cold? Women or men? Single individuals or families? Would age make a difference? In Sex and Death on the Western Emigrant Trail, Donald Grayson looks at who died and who lived in three mid-nineteenth-century emigrant groups. An emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Washington, Grayson began looking at patterns of death in the Donner Party, publishing his findings in 1990 and 1993. Curious if those same patterns of death were manifest in another emigrant group, Grayson began looking at the 1856 Willie handcart company. Grayson acknowledges my help with his research at the Church Historical Department in the mid-1990s, and he published his findings about mortality in the Willie handcart company in the Journal of Anthropological Research in 1996.