Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

November 13, 2012
Donner Party doll returns to Sutter's Fort
SF Patty Reed Doll & Stand.jpg

This Thursday Sutter's Fort will unveil its new Orientation Gallery, permanent exhibit and movie theater to the public. The mission of the gallery and exhibit is to educate visitors to the important role the Fort played -- as central gathering spot for diverse cultural groups -- in the history of California.

The star of the exhibit is the Patty Reed Doll, which returns to public display after a 15 month restoration. The iconic toy accompanied 8-year-old Martha Jane "Patty" Reed as she and her family traveled overland to California in what became the infamous Donner Party. Reed survived the deadly winter of 1846-47 and lived to 1923. In 1946 her heirs donated Dolly to Sutter's Fort, the Donner Party's intended destination.

This Saturday at the next "Hands on History" event, visitors will have the opportunity hear stories about the Donner tragedy and view the Patty Reed doll and other Donner artifacts. In addition there will be hands-on demos of wagon packing, quill pen writing and rag or corn husk doll making.

What: "One Fort, Many Views" Orientation Gallery & Exhibit Opening
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L St., Sacramento
When: Nov. 15 (note: once opened, the gallery and exhibit will be permanent at the Fort). Hours: 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: Regular Fort admission: $5 per adult (18+), $3 per youth (ages 6-17), free for children 5 years and under. Note that on Special Interpretive Program Days (including Nov. 15 & 17) cost $7 per adult (18 and older), $5 per youth (ages 6-17).
For more info: 916-445-4422 or website

What: Hands on History -- There are Folks Trapped in the Mountains
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L St., Sacramento
When: Nov. 17, 10 to 5 p.m. Cannon firing demonstrations: 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Musket demonstrations periodically throughout the day.
Cost: $7 per adult (18+), $5 per youth (ages 6-17), free for children 5 years and under.
For more info: 916-445-4422 or website

News releases

PHOTO CREDIT: Priceless doll belonging to Martha Jane "Patty" Reed who in 1846 migrated west with her family in what became known as the Donner Party. Courtesy Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

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About Sac History Happenings

California and Sacramento have a long, rich, vibrant history. And our region is blessed with an abundance of historical resources maintained by museums, libraries, archives and societies. This blog aims to alert readers to the latest developments in local/state historical education and research.

Send tips concerning upcoming exhibits, tours, lectures and meetings, as well as new books, magazine articles and online collections to the blog's contributors.

The Contributors:

Michael Dolgushkin

Michael Dolgushkin is Manuscript Librarian at the California State Library History Section. He is co-author of San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars and is a frequent contributor to the California State Library Foundation Bulletin. Contact him at

Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Certified Archivist working in the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library. She earned a BS in History from Southern Oregon University and a MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archives from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact her at

Pete basofin

Pete Basofin is Director of Editorial Research at The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked at The St. Petersburg Times and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. Contact him at

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