On the Road South of the Border
The 19th century was a peak period for travel to Latin America. Bordering the Southern part of the United States, Mexico offered a warm, exotic, and almost “mythical” escape, and adventure for women traveling on the road. Whether alone, with a friend, with their mother, or with their entire family, women explored the sites and stops across Mexico. Their travel narratives often depicted various cuidads (towns), plazas, historic sites, as well as the people and customs they encountered.
Women from Mexico traveled to the United States as seen in Olga Beatriz Torres’ Memorías de mi vieja. In her narrative, Olga, age 11, describes traveling to Texas from Villa Olga, Mixcoac via train. Olga's observations on her family's trip constitutes one of the few accounts of the early twentieth-century Southwest; her notes describe the growing cities in the Southwest, American technology, race relations, and linguistic change.
In the 20th century, following the end of the Mexican Revolution more American women began travels and tours to Mexico. They generally comprised a select group of ambitious, professional and usually privileged, economically mobile, white/light-skinned women. Their narratives shaped how others perceived and traversed the country, ensuring that other women were properly equipped and acquainted with travel.
Mayo & Weed
Tourists in Mexico
Photographs of American tourists in Mexico. Included are views of tourists visiting ruins in Mitla, the great Nochistongo ditch, Guadalajara, Cascade de Sumidero, Tlaxcala and Queretaro (where Emperor Maximilian was shot), and a train of the Mexicano del Sur, Central Mexicano, and Ferro-Carril Interoceanico. One view of mule-drawn open rail cars of tourists. Photograph is stamped on verso, Mayo & Weed, Photographers, Chicago.
DeGolyer Library, Prints and Photographs, Ag1999.1288
Mary Elizabeth Blake (1840-1907) and Margaret F. Sullivan (1847-1903)
Mexico: picturesque, political, progressive
Boston: Lee & Shepard; New York: C.T. Dillingham, 1888
Mary Elizabeth Blake was an Irish American poet who immigrated to the United States with her family in 1859, settling in Quincy, Massachusetts. Margret F. Sullivan was an Irish American author, journalist, and editor who immigrated with her family to Detroit, Michigan, in 1851. The two co-authored this work on travel through Mexico in 1888 as the result of a prolonged excursion to the region. Authors note the wonderful people and beauty of the country and their faith in Mexico’s future prosperity.
DeGolyer Library General Collection, F1215 .B65
Katherine Delmar Burke (1867-1929)
Katherine Delmar Burke travel diary, 1902
Katherine Delmar Burke’s diary describers her round trip by train from San Francisco to Mexico in June and July of 1902, providing insight into the way a well-educated woman traveled, viewed, and wrote about a foreign excursion at the beginning of the 20th century. The semi-anonymous diary, written in pencil and ink, is dedicated by “K.D.B.” to her mother. Katherine Delmar Burke later wrote Storied Walls of the Exposition in 1915 about the buildings of the Panama-Pacific Exposition. Burke’s diary describes towns and plazas, people, the countryside, dinners, and cotillions.
DeGolyer Library, Manuscript Collection, A2002.0031c
Minnie Moffitte (circa 1865-1935)
Travel diary: manuscript, 1905
Minnie Moffitte lived with her Uncle Morgan’s family in Lake Valley, New Mexico. Her travel diary contains handwritten entries dated November 17 to December 20, 1905, describing her excursions to El Paso and Mexico City. She describes the customs of the Mexican people, food, cathedrals, and various travel issues along the way.
DeGolyer Library, Manuscript Collection, A2018.0049c
Leonora D. Nelson
Tour of all Mexico
Leonora D. Nelson’s scrapbook titled “Tour of all Mexico” documents a group from the American Tourist Association on a private train. The group traveled in Mexico from January 26 to March 2, 1909. The scrapbook contains the itinerary, railroad map, menus, passenger list, clippings relating to people and places seen on the tour, with photographs recording the tour group and activities.
DeGolyer Library, Archives of Women of the Southwest, Ag2000.1386
Cy E. Johnson
Automobile trip through Mexico, 1911
Album of photographs from Cy E. Johnson and wife’s (?) automobile trip through Mexico. Snapshots of towns, rural areas, churches, native people, and military men. Many views of their car, rough roads, and a car wreck. In some views, they appear to be examining coffee bean plants and rows of small plants.
DeGolyer Library, Prints and Photographs, Ag2000.1376x