The Americas, Europe, and Oceania Division (AEOD) collects a variety of material on North American life throughout history. The following collections represent materials focusing on different aspects of tourism and local culture with the understanding of the economic conditions of that time and place. For assistance searching and locating these items and similar materials, please contact the AEOD.
Travel Promotion West of the MIssissippi
Images 1-5. Widener collections support the study of tourism and travel in the western United States in the twentieth century, ranging from gatherings of souvenir postcards to guidebooks to promotional guides published by railroads, bus lines, and for the consumption of automobile drivers. The mythology of the twentieth century Western states and their development depended on the idea of open spaces, access to outdoor leisure, and the implied promise of economic prosperity (though without showing the collateral environmental and social impacts).
Town and city culture in the Upper Midwest and Prairie Canada
Images 6-10. Widener Library has a distinctive assemblage of materials, often from small presses and local historical societies, that allows the study of manners and life in the Midwest (especially Minnesota), and popular memory of European settlement. Collections highlight the interplay between developing and declining industrial activity as it encountered the agricultural landscape and workers’ increased participation in leisure and tourism. Materials presenting a vision of community pride and consensus in the twentieth century also express prevailing exclusions and prejudices.
The American transportation industries
Images 11-15. We also have extensive coverage of the culture of transportation in North America. This extends not only to the companies that created automobiles and airplanes and railroads and their component parts, but to the car culture that continued to shape the American landscape, economy, and consumer desire. Manufacturing and maintenance of automobiles were a mainstay of neighborhoods, cities, and regions, and have a strong bearing on the study of North American economic and labor history. Books and magazines stemming from the collecting and display of vintage vehicles attest to a culture of leisure, craftsmanship and do-it-yourself culture. The scope of this grouping includes local magazines and pamphlets, promotional materials for companies producing vehicles and vehicle maintenance supplies, and a wide variety of company-published magazines.
Cattle on the American Scene
Images 16-20. As part of its extensive holdings on the culture of the American West and its extractive economy, Widener Library has books and ephemera that speak to the evolution of livestock management and meat processing in the American West. States and counties produced “brand books,” which showed the distinctive identification marks that were burned or tattooed onto livestock that grazed in the western landscape and were transported (by train and by their own power) to stockyards on the outskirts of cities. These publications attest directly to the agricultural reality of evolving economic uses and treatment of animals as well as policies and activities that are relevant to the burgeoning field of environmental studies. Also visible from these sources is the symbolic importance of the industry to the local history and memory of the region.
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