Hidden Treasures of the UC Libraries: Explore Fifty Years of Travel Memorabilia in the DAAP Library Special Collection
Over the course of 50 years, from the 1920’s through the 1970’s, two Cincinnati women of leisure and family fortune explored the United States and more than 20 countries together—from remote villages in South America to cities throughout Europe, the United Kingdom and the Middle East, Isabelle Eastman Fisk and Margaret Pogue Fisk documented their expeditions with slides, photographs, postcards, journals and films.
“The ‘Isabelle Eastman Fisk and Margaret Pogue Fisk International Travel Collection’ is a one-of-a-kind unpublished collection [and] a remarkable source of primary information for researchers in the humanities and social sciences,” said Jennifer Krivickas, head of the Robert A. Deshon and Karl J. Schlachter Library for Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP).
Today, this extensive treasure trove of travel memorabilia fills six shelves in the DAAP Library Special Collection, tucked away in vintage suitcases, albums, boxes and metal carriers of assorted shapes and sizes.
On the cover of an oversized album bound with green velvet is an image of a golden castle framed by green foliage against a sienna sky. Inside, black and white photographs tell the story of a trip to Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Czechoslovakia in 1928. Images include Inverness at sunset, Inverness Castle, Loch Ness, Kelso Abbey (founded in 1128) and the house of Mary, Queen of Scots in Jedburgh.
Another album of think brown leather edged in gold filigree hosts a collection of photos and postcards from Central and South America: landscapes, towns, ornate stone buildings, thatched-roof huts, a bustling market, and people of all ages captured in the motions of daily living. In one picture a group of men and women sit in front of unusual-looking instruments; in others, women walk with baskets on their heads or squat at a loom; in another, a crowd is gathered for a festive procession along dirt roads.
Travel journals written in legible cursive offer commentary and occasionally detail a daily schedule of activities. At Chichen Itza, one of the women wrote:
“Did the journal very thoroughly, exploring it all. Exterior sculptures and wall decorations most effective. It has the only third story in the Mayan area, and in it were many shrines of the Rain God and other gods. Girls chosen for sacrifice to the Rain God were raised in the nunnery from childhood on.”
Ideally, Jennifer hopes to team up with one or more graduate students or scholars to apply for a major grant to digitize, describe and make this collection accessible for research and scholarship at UC and beyond.
“The collection, mainly composed of extensive visual documentation of North and South America, Europe, Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East, would be an excellent primary source of unique information for a thesis, dissertation or book about any number of academic topics involving, or focused on, travel writing, feminism, manners and customs, fashion, architecture, or the basic contours, and evolution of, the Grand Tour, including the literary and documentary endeavors of the tourists," Jennifer said.
If you are interested in discussing such collaboration, or if you want to use the collection for research, contact Jennifer Krivickas, the head of the DAAP Library and curator of the DAAP Library Special Collection, to make arrangements: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Kara Sorrell, Graduate Assistant for the Graduate School Office
Images by Saeide Karimi, Graduate Assistant for the Graduate School Office