Writing on the Road
Literary history is filled with the women’s travel writing. Wherever women traveled, they wrote. Their narratives recounted where they traveled, when, and for what purpose. During the second half of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century, transportation became safer, cleaner, and more comfortable, particularly after automobiles entered the market. More and more women traded the confines of home for the open road. This rise in women traveling and women travel writing coincided with the women’s suffrage movements and the early waves of feminism. As writers, women authored non-fiction travel writing and guides, sometimes geared towards helping other women who would follow the same roads.
Women also wrote travel fiction. In their travel accounts, women tended to comment on manners, etiquette, food, safety, family, and fashions. Women producing both fiction and nonfiction travel narratives during this time period did not limit themselves to documenting the places visited and the experiences of women on the road, but were also wrestling with the concepts of mobility, freedom, and identity.
Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)
Summer on the lakes in 1843
Boston: Charles Little and James Brown, 1844
Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli was an American journalist, editor, critic, translator, and women’s rights advocate. One of the earliest American feminists, she edited the Dial and served on the staff of the New York Tribune. In the summer of 1843, she traveled to Chicago, Milwaukee, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo, New York; while there, she interacted with several Native Americans, including members of the Ottawa and the Chippewa tribes. She reported her experiences in Summer on the Lakes, which she completed writing on her 34th birthday in 1844.
DeGolyer Library, General Collection, Non-circulating F551 .O84 1844
Elizabeth Williams Champney (1850-1922), author
Three Vassar girls in South America: a holiday trip of three college girls through the southern continent; up the Amazon, down the Madeira, across the Andes, and up the Pacific coast to Panama
Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1887
Fictional travel piece of a holiday trip of three college girls through the southern continent. Elizabeth “Lizzie” Williams Champney was an American author of novels and juvenile literature, as well as travel writing, most of which featured foreign locations. Champney made frequent trips to England, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and less known portions of Europe. In 1883, she published the first of her long-running Three Vassar Girls Abroad novels for young girls. Champney graduated from Vassar in 1869. The series eventually contained eleven novels, the last of which, Three Vassar Girls in the Holy Land, was published in 1892. Illustrated by Champney, the series employs a conversational writing style while having the main characters tackle issues from bigotry to careers, to boys and garden parties.
DeGolyer Library, General Collection, F2223.C45 1887
Ruth E. Adomeit (1910-1996)
The Motor Car
[Dundee]: Valentine & Sons, 
Ruth E. Adomeit was an American writer, editor, collector of miniature books and philanthropist. She was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and worked as a secretary and research assistant in engineering, and as an elementary school teacher until her retirement. Collecting miniature books was her lifetime passion. The Motor Car tells the story of a group of small children encountering “a beautiful motor car” so “neat and new, ever so large.” The children, seeing no driver, opt to go for a joy ride. “We looked into the car and were pleased to find everything one could ask, - goggles and coats of every kind, a map and a moto-mask. Tins of petrol, and lamps, and a tyre…”
DeGolyer Library, Pamphlet Collection, TL147.M91 1900z
Automobile Lillian, the girl bandit: adventurous night of a tender-hearted girl in a stolen automobile: her experience with the sheriff, and her love for “Texas Joe,” the hardy plainsman: tragic death of heroine
[South Norwalk, Conn.?] : [Royal Novelty Co.], [between 1910 and 1919?]
Small printed pamphlet of a short fictional story featuring a woman outlaw and automobile driver. Automobile Lillian, a girl from Arizona, “added her name to the long list of those daring men and women who have made the history of our great West replete with wonderful deeds of great courage,” but instead of employing the pony express, the stage coach, or horses, it “remained for a woman to discover and use the automobile in the same kind of work that made the James Brothers famous throughout the world.” This tale tells the story of Lillian who stole from rich for the poor and the melodramatic description of her attempted escape in a car.
DeGolyer Library, Pamphlet Collection, PS3500.A1 A98
Eliza and Etheldreda in Mexico: notes of travel
New York: Broadway Pub. Co., c1911
Notes of Travel is chiefly a travel narrative as told by Eliza. A work of teen fiction written by Patty Guthrie that purports to tell wonders of Eliza and Ehteldreda. It is a history of Mexico steeped in romances and legends. She describes it as the most interesting place in the new world.
DeGolyer Library, General Collection, PS3513.U874 E8 1911
Alma D. Johnson (1915-2007)
Trail dust ...: over the B.O.D. through Kansas
Detroit: Harlo, 
Alma D. Johnson was an American teacher, librarian, and author born in Kansas in 1915. She authored a collection of children’s stories and also wrote professional and miscellaneous articles for various publications. This book provides a history of the Smoky Hill Trail or the Butterfield Overland Despatch (Butterfield Trail) through Kansas. This trail was established as a route to Denver and Pike’s Peak.
DeGolyer Library, General Collection, HE5904.K35 J64
The Motor Girls at Camp Surprise; or, The cave in the mountains
[New York, N.Y.]: The Goldsmith Publishing Co., [©1916]
Stratemeyer Syndicate was a publishing company that produced a number of children’s mysteries series, including Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. They contracted and published many pseudonymous authors during the writing of these series from 1899-1987. Margaret Penrose was the pseudonym used by Stratemeyer Syndicate. Due to the popularity of the Motor Boys series, the company opted to produce a fictional series for young girls. The Motor Girls features Cora Kimball and her friends as they go on adventures, auto tours, and vacations by the shore.
DeGolyer Library, General Collection, PS3531.E657
Albert D. Manchester
Trails begin where rails end: early-day motoring adventures in the West and Southwest
Glendale, California: Trans-Anglo Books, c1987
Albert Manchester is a freelance writer and photographer whose interests include equestrian sports, commercial fishing, and the history of motoring and the impact of the automobile on society. Manchester includes author Emily Post in his work, describing her trek from New York to San Francisco. In 1915 Emily decided to head west to attend the Pan-American Exposition. She, her son Edwin M. Post Jr. and a fellow female companion packed up her son’s Mercedes, “bought six new tires and a speedometer, topped of the oil and gasoline” and headed out.
DeGolyer Library, General Collection, Folio GV1024.M32 1987
Emily Post (1872-1960)
By motor to the Golden Gate
New York and London: D. Appleton and company, 1916
Emily Post was an American author, novelist, and socialite, famous for writing about etiquette. When her two sons were old enough to attend boarding school, Post began her writing career. She wrote on architecture and interior design for such magazines as Harper’s, Scribner’s, and the Century. She also authored a few novels. In 1916, she published By Motor to the Golden Gate, her recount of a road trip she made from New York to San Francisco with her son Edwin and another companion.
DeGolyer Library, General Collection, E168 .P65
Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958)
The out trail
New York: George H. Doran Company, [c1923]
Mary Roberts Rinehart was an American writer, often called the American Agatha Christie. Rinehart published her first mystery novel, The Circular Staircase, in 1908. She wrote hundreds of short stories, poems, travelogues, and articles, and many of her short stories, books, and plays were adapted for movies. The Out Trail features seven tales from her adventures in the West, from fishing at Puget Sound to hiking the Bright Angel trail at the Grand Canyon. Rinehart’s travel writing offers observations and insights into the fun and difficulties of early twentieth-century travel and her fellow travelers with humor and clarity of detail.
DeGolyer Library, General Collection, F595 .R63
Kathryn Hulme (1900-1981)
How’s the road?
San Francisco: Privately printed Johnck & Seeger, 1928
Kathryn Hulme was an American author and memoirist. How’s the Road? is an account of her cross-country motor trip that was privately printed in 1928. The publication was financed by Alice Rohrer, a San Francisco milliner whom Hulme accompanied to Europe and Mexico between 1928 and 1937. Hulme drew on these experiences for her next two books, Arab Interlude (1930) and Desert Night (1932), her only attempt at pure fiction.
DeGolyer Library, General Collection, F595 .H92 1928
Melita L. O’Hara (1899-1978)
Coast to coast in a puddle jumper, and other stories
Tessier, Sask.: Mrs. H. O’Hara, [c1930]
Melita Helen Laurin was the daughter of an upper-class French-Canadian family in Quebec City. She attended St. Louis de France Academy, Sillery College, and advanced to Laval University, graduating with an MA in 1918. She was the social columnist for the Montreal Star and Gazette. Melita conducted a tour of National Parks and wrote a series of articles which established her as a travel writer. Her only book, Coast to Coast, recorded her impressions and adventures in a tour of Canada and the United States.
DeGolyer Library, General Collection, E169 .O36 1930