Independence Rock, WY, 2015. Photographer: Megan Huelman

Methodology

Diaries

The heart of this project lies in the diaries women wrote as they traveled west across the trails. Hundreds of trail diaries have been recorded and published in the past century as interest has continued to grow about this great western migration. The diaries listed in the Diary Archive merely scratch the surface of trail diaries. For ease of transcribing and access, the diaries used for this project are all published in books, journals and newspapers. A few men discuss women's clothing in their diaries and several of these have been included in this project, however by and large, women's diaries are the thrust of this investigation. While diaries are the main focus as they allow for the most personal and factual recording, a few letters written along the way and reminiscences have been added as they have extremely detailed and descriptive clothing sections. Most diarists only mention clothing a few times throughout their whole journey so for the scope of this project, the diary archive contains diary excerpts of the day or paragraph in which clothing was mentioned. Spelling and punctuation has been kept as the original diarist wrote or in some cases as the publisher of the journal recorded it. To focus specifically on the high traffic years of the trail the time frame for this project focuses on the 1845-1865 period.

Digital Components

The graphs and pie charts have been created using Xcel spreadsheets. The word cloud was developed using the online tool Wordle. Several common English words were removed to give a clearer view of the nouns, adjectives and verbs used most often in clothing related trail diary excerpts. TokenX through UNL created the "dress" in context visual with a valid XML file based on the entries in the diary archives. Lastly, the interactive map is based through the Google Maps online tool and can be viewed through Google Maps by clicking the link below the map, this allows for a larger screen and greater ability to search by person.

Image: Fort Laramie, Wyoming, Author's Collection