Letters & Diaries From the Journey West
Want to know what the journey to the West was like for those who were really there? Try reading some of the letters and diary entries from the women who went west with the wagon trains. Check out this great multi-volume series Covered Wagon Women: diaries and letters from the great western trails edited & compiled by Kenneth L. Holmes (University of Nebraska, 1995), and Best of Covered Wagon Women (2008).
This is the real deal, not the Hollywood version, and it's not for the faint of heart. (If you're looking for romance, keep looking!)