The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, October 16, 1834, by Joseph Mallord William Turner, c. 1835. © The Philadelphia Museum of Art / Art Resource.


Volume IX, Number 2 | spring 2016


“Thank the good God we have all got through and the only family that did not eat human flesh,” wrote fourteen-year-old Virginia Reed, a surviving Donner Party member, in an 1847 letter. “Don’t let this letter dishearten anybody and never take no cutoffs and hurry along as fast as you can.” Reed reported being “pleased with California, particularly with the climate.” 

It’s the end of the world every day, for someone.

—Margaret Atwood, 2000