Genealogy & Paper Trail

A Guide to Overland Pioneer Documents


Paper Trail is a searchable database of remarkable journeys, with names, places and a survey of the text. This database includes a list of libraries where the original historic documents may be found.

The 19th Century migration on the overland trails to the far West is illuminated by the writings of thousands of pioneers who took this long and dangerous journey. Pioneers went to Oregon, California, Utah and Montana for land or for gold and they wrote of their experiences in diaries, letters, remembrances and newspaper articles. As the covered wagons rolled west on the Oregon Trail, the pioneers recorded their travels in documents that have survived in libraries and private collections. The Oregon-California Trails Association, known as OCTA, is the guardian and promoter of the exciting story of the 19th Century westward American migration.

Emigrant Trail Certificate for James M. Conway descendant of 1851 Oregon Trail emigrant Frank Marion Lanham
Emigrant Trail Certificate

Do you have one or more ancestors who traveled the overland trails to Oregon or California?

If so, honor them with a Western Emigrant Trail Certificate. Complete and mail the certificate application, pay the fee, and you will receive a certificate to honor your emigrant ancestor.