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The Places You Will Go!

Around this time of year I start thinking about planning a vacation – something that involves travel to a new place, and preferably to another country. However, the necessary resources (among them, time and funds) are sometimes lacking. Recently, it occurred to me that years as an archivist have enriched my life in some unexpected ways – one of these has been vicarious travel! At the Booth Family Center for Special Collections, I’ve had the privilege to read many wonderful and beautifully written travel accounts to both well-known tourist destinations and more far-flung places. The following is the first in a series of posts profiling some of my favorite travelers’ experiences, as recorded in their diaries and writings.

Embark on a summer holiday with Glady’s Hinckley-Werlich (1891-1976), who traveled frequently in the Far East during the 1950s and 1960s:

A native of Washington, D.C., Ms. Hinckley-Werlich was the daughter of portrait artist Robert Hinckley and Eleanora O’Donnell Hinckley. She made her Washington debut in 1909 and in 1923 married McCeney Werlich, the European representative of American Locomotive Company. When her husband joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1925, Gladys Werlich accompanied him on travels through various diplomatic posts, including Costa Rica, Latvia, Paris, and Poland. After her husband’s death, Werlich continued to travel extensively until 1972, keeping detailed journals on her trips to Africa, China, Egypt, Europe, Japan and Russia.

Pages from Hinckley-Werlich travel diary

Gladys Hinckley-Werlich’s travel journal for the Far East. (Click to enlarge.)

The entry for August 27-28, 1956 in her travel journal for Hong Kong, reads:

It is 93 degrees in Hong Kong & humidity is awful. Nevertheless everyone was milling around with the feeling of urgency as we were only there from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. the following day. I took the bus which included a launch trip through the floating islands of sampans. Surprisingly little odor & lunched at the Tai Pak restaurant, a copy of an old Chinese palace…I was in many taxis and rickshaws even for tiny distances on acc[ount] of the awful heat…

(Hinckley-Werlich Family papers, GTM801103; Box 12, Folder 6)

Tour Egypt with one of the first women in the U.S. Foreign Service:

Winifred Weislogel (1927-1981) began her career as an office assistant at the Council on Foreign Relations, which gave her a “foot in the door”  to joining the U.S. Foreign Service in 1956. Over the next 17 years, assignments took her to cities around the world including Geneva, Tripoli, Benghazi, and Tangiers. Weslogel was the first woman in the U.S. Foreign Service to be offered language training. Weislogel’s papers consist of correspondence to her parents replete with rich descriptions of her experiences abroad as a diplomat.

Following is a letter excerpt about a holiday taken to Egypt during a posting in Morocco in 1963:

…I did the usual tourist things like riding a camel at the Pyramids, visiting King Tut’s tomb at Luxor, etc…My little bit of Arabic went a long way as when I rode the local ferry across the Nile and discovered in talking with Egyptian passengers that many had relations in Libya or their parents had come from there during the Italian occupation. The farther I progressed up the Nile the nearer the dialect was to Cyrenaican Arabic; I made out quite well in the Sudan…The Nile south of Aswan was a surprise. I expected the valley to be green either side of the river but instead sand came right down to the river’s edge. Very rarely there was a little plot of green with a few houses. Of course the entire area will be flooded when the new dam is completed; it will take about 8 years for the waters to back up to Wadi Halfa but the town is doomed to melt away…I never have experienced such heat and such thirst in my life. I floated up the Nile on gallons of Blue Nile beer which seemed like elixir. In midday we would lie in our deck chairs and pant…

(Winifred Weislogel papers, GTMGamms273; Box 1, Folder 21; typed letter dated Tangier, Morocco, November 1963, p.2)

--Lisette Matano, Manuscripts Archivist