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Southwestern Wonderland
Selling of the West


The late 1800s and early 1900s witnessed a time when the Southwest became a focus for many writers and artists. Offering picturesque views of the landscape and the people, writers interested in promoting the region enticed readers to explore this new, virgin country. Often the images they created of the Southwest were based more on myth and personal interpretation than on reality and fact. Some writers depicted the arid landscape as being bounteous--the transformation of the region was seen as a challenge that could be achieved. Others, more respectful of the desert, saw it as a fragile unique landscape worth cherishing. The Native people were depicted as gentle, giving and easy going--a refreshing contrast to people dealing with the bustling, competitive life of the east.

In 1912, Arizona and New Mexico joined the United States of America. The region increasingly appealed to the curious and adventurous as a place to experience. The railroads, by providing comfortable package tours of the area, simplified the task of discovering the territory. These tourists, lured to the area by informative and beautifully designed pamphlets, provided a vital source of economic support to the area.

Other groups were cultivated as well. Advertising the region to promote development and settlement was the focus of another type of writing about the region. In these brochures, reports and advertisements, the region's climate, mineral wealth and agricultural potential were lauded. Often painting romantic descriptions of the land, and its Native American and Spanish influences, the text of these pieces were intended to coax the growing Anglo-American population to sever their ties with the eastern U.S. and move to the sun drenched Southwest. Promotional literature promised economic health and prosperity to settlers of these new lands.

The development of the railroads increased accessibility to the more remote areas in the region. People now had the means to come and take a look. Pamphlets advertising the delights of the Southwest encouraged visits (The Garden of Allah), while others encouraged permanent residency (On the Romantic Mexican Border), and still others asked for financial aid from U.S. citizens to help the Southwestern states become productive (Arizona Appeals to America and You).

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Pamphlet Descriptions

Detail of front cover Rock Island and Pacific Railway Company
The Garden of Allah
Max Lau Colortype and Lithograph Corp.
1934, 30 pages
C9791 Pam. 151

Pages 1-2 [color 2 MB] pages 3-30 [greyscale 2.8 MB]

This beautifully crafted color pamphlet produced by R. Fayerweather Babcock is a delight! Its poetic prose and artistic beauty brings the wonders of the desert southwest to life. Historical events and customs are explored. The first half of the brochure is mostly graphical and the second half is mostly textual. Although the entire pamphlet is in full color, we are displaying all but the cover and first page in greyscale for faster viewing. The first two pages will give you an idea of its true beauty.

Detail of front cover Gordon Strachan
Arizona--Jewel in the Sun. Grand Canyon State thrives on health, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness. Reprinted from The Santa Fe Magazine, August 1948.
[Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company]
Circa 1948, 11 pages
C9791 Pam. 1
[0.7 MB]

This pamphlet is a black-and-white reprint from the August 1948 edition of the Santa Fe Magazine. A photograph of Phoenix (population 245,000) is accompanied by text that describes to the reader the story of the youngest state in the Union. With the aid of photographs on Arizona produce, cowboys and cowgirls, Boulder dam, Indian canyon dwellings and other scenes, general information and interesting statistics about Arizona are presented.

Detail of front cover Douglas Borderland Climate Club
On the Romantic Mexican Border, Douglas, Arizona
[Douglas, Arizona]: Borderland Climate Club
Circa 1920, 28 pages
L9791.D73 Pam. 8
[1.5 MB]

Produced by the Borderland-Climate Club in the early part of the century, this pamphlet draws on the wonderful Arizona winter climate to invite people to move to Douglas. It not only describes the weather, but also activities, landmarks, facts, and figures. There doesn't appear to be any mention of summer temperatures, however -- the focus is on lack of rain and sunshine.

Detail of front cover San Carlos Association Committee
Arizona Appeals to America and You
Florence, Arizona
Circa 1919, 16 pages
C9791 Pam. 146
[0.6 MB]

A small pamphlet with a big bite! It focuses on the way the Arizona landscape can change with a little water and loving care to become a fruitful productive place. It is an appeal by the San Carlos Association Committee, Florence, Arizona, for a loan by the American public to finance the building of a dam in the Gila River known as the San Carlos Project. It calls for cactus to give way to corn and cotton--an interesting vision ostracized today since the cactus has become a precious harbinger of the desert, and is losing its hold to development.

Detail of front cover Arizona Welcomes You
Circa 1940s, 8 pages
C9791 Pam. 155
[2.4 MB]

A "friendly guide for the traveler" indicating brief descriptions about points of interest along various routes within Arizona. There are several humerous illustrations, and a very picturesque center map. It includes short descriptions of different historical periods, and maintains a light-hearted demeanor. The artist was George M. Avey.

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