Postcards from the Chihuahua Border

Revisiting a Pictorial Past, 1900s–1950s

Hardcover ($45.00), Ebook ($45.00) Buy
Just a trolley ride from El Paso, Ciudad Juárez was a popular destination in the early 1900s. Enticing and exciting, tourists descended on this and other Mexican border towns to browse curio shops, dine and dance, attend bullfights, and perhaps escape Prohibition America.

In Postcards from the Chihuahua Border Daniel D. Arreola captures the exhilaration of places in time, taking us back to Mexico’s northern border towns of Cuidad Juárez, Ojinaga, and Palomas in the early twentieth century. Drawing on more than three decades of archival work, Arreola uses postcards and maps to unveil the history of these towns along west Texas’s and New Mexico’s southern borders.

Postcards offer a special kind of visual evidence. Arreola’s collection of imagery and commentary about them shows us singular places, enriching our understandings of history and the history of change in Chihuahua. No one postcard tells the entire story. But image after image offers a collected view and insight into changing perceptions. Arreola’s geography of place looks both inward and outward. We see what tourists see, while at the same time gaining insight about what postcard photographers and postcard publishers wanted to be seen and perceived about these border communities.

Postcards from the Chihuahua Border is a colorful and dynamic visual history. It invites the reader to time travel, to revisit another era—the first half of the last century—when these border towns were framed and made popular through picture postcards.
"Postcards from the Chihuahua Border is a good example of how photographic postcards can represent the story of a changing landscape. To see how this border community takes shape historically is to realize the importance of mobility for a sustainable future, as well as the possibility of respectful coexistence, even symbiosis. Rather than mourning for a past landscape, perhaps we should look to the visual evidence that exists for the knowledge and the hope required to bring down walls and encourage a more inclusive border culture."—Lauren Judge, Historical Geography

“A splendid book for learning about the evolution of urban centers on the Mexican border. A very enjoyable read and visual experience.”—Oscar J. Martínez, author of Ciudad Juárez: Saga of a Legendary Border City

“In Postcards from the Chihuahua Border, Arreola articulates some of the most important, critical, and compelling histories of la frontera—and, delightfully, from visual and cultural approaches to postcards. Largely addressing the first half of the twentieth century, Postcards from the Chihuahua Border makes plain the importance of ‘seeing’ day-to-day life and human experience in surprising places.”—John-Michael H. Warner, Assistant Professor, Kent State University

"(Postcards from the Chihuahua Border brings) attention to an often overlooked historical artifact in an accessible text that is both illuminating and entertaining. Postcards demonstrate that seemingly innocuous objects can transmit a great deal of information through their subject matter, the miles they traveled, and who sent and received them, while their production can also document advancements in technology."—Rita Marie Velasco, Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"... this is a fascinating book, fun to pore over, and a return to the innocent, thrilling, and occasionally sodden days of yesteryear on the border."—James Griffith, Journal of Folklore Research

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