New Arrival

The Donner Party

Thrilling and Tragic Journal written by George McKinstry Jr. while on a Journey Overland to California, in 1846-47. Including an account of the death of many of the party, the last three who died. being eaten by the survivors ... Originally printed in St. Louis Reveille and The Dollar Newspaper in 1847.

West Hoboken, NJ: Privately published by Albert A. Bieber ... C. Reining, Printer, [ca. 1915].

Price: $4,500.00


About the item

First separate edition. One of 65 signed copies. Printed on pink paper, folding into publisher's pink wrappers, the rear wrapper signed by Bieber. Unfolds to 13-1/4x8-1/4 inches. The Donner Party. Stitched into publisher's green cloth with printed label on the upper cover.

Item #366779

Among the treasures at the Bancroft Library is the original diary of Patrick Breen, one of few survivors of the infamous Donner Party, the group of California pioneers trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter of 1846-47 who resorted to cannibalism to survive. Of the 87 people who entered the Wasatch Mountains, only 48 survived.

Much of the present day knowledge of the Donner Party is known from the Breen diary, which was originally recovered by rescuer George McKinstry Jr. The news of the Party was an instant sensation, and evidently seeking to capitalize on the notoriety, McKinstry published extracts from the diary in several newspapers. In 1871 the McKinstry gave the diary to Hubert H. Bancroft.

The present item, rarely found in its original wrappers and binding, was published by bookseller Albert A. Bieber and stated as the first separate edition of any party of the diary. It comprises chilling extracts from Nov. 20 1846 to March 1, 1847.