California State Library
California State Library Building
900 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA) established the Western Overland Trails Collection at the California State Library in 2002. In addition to a substantial collection of published books and pamphlets, the Association donated copies of unpublished material such as diaries, journals, letters, and recollections in order to provide a comprehensive research collection for the overland trail experience. The primary focus of this material is on overland travel from the jumping-off locations along the Missouri River to the destination locations in the Western United States.
The original copies of this material come from well-known research libraries and historical organizations throughout the country as well as museums and private individuals. Where possible the entire diary, etc., was copied but, in some cases, due to length or condition of the item, only the overland portion was copied. Some of the material has been published, primarily in magazines or newspapers, and if appropriate these publications have been copied instead of, or in addition to, the original material.
For most handwritten material a typed transcription was made and this has been provided in addition to the copy of the manuscript. Many of the transcriptions were done by Richard L. Rieck, Professor of Geography, Western Illinois University at Macomb. Donald E. Buck prepared a cover page for each document including pertinent information that might be of use to the researcher. The items in the collection have been arranged alphabetically by the name of the author. The California Information File II at the California State Library provides access to materials in the collection by author and trail name.
California Trail Interpretive Center
The California Trail Interpretive Center is developing a collection of emigrant trail materials for research. Materials may be requested at the trail center for use at the center.