Cannibalizing the Donner Name
Copyright (c) 1999 Maney
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
For nineteenth-century American audiences, the name of the Donner Party evoked grisly images of cannibalism on the western frontier. Those same audiences eagerly consumed every artifact to which the party's name could be attached and, in turn, renamed the scene of the 1846-47 winter encampment in its honor. The transformation of the Donner label is traced from individual name to toponymic feature and article of exchange on the open market, with particular attention to the ways in which the party's common identity as “Donners” overwrote the histories of individual party members.
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