Madrid Around 1910

Postcard courtesy of Michelle Mock

Madrid, October 22nd, 1934

Dear Dr. Swingle,

In collaboration with the University of Nanking, we have just published an index to Chinese Agricultural literature.  I am writing home to send you a personal copy.  I am here for the Museum Conference and shall sail for China November 10th from Brindisi. [Signed: H. Yuan ]

I also found this postcard at the Jurupa Cultural Center where I discovered the cards Maude Kellerman had sent to her mother.  It was addressed to Dr. Walter T. Swingle, Bureau of Plant Industry, Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., USA.  I could not read the postmark on the card very well, but I was very curious so I started researching on the Internet.  I always try to encourage my students to research on their own and not just ask someone for the answer.  Searching for the answer yourself can lead to one of those "Ahah!" moments, when everything makes sense.

I first wanted to know who was Walter T. Swingle?  It was easy to find reference to him on the Internet.  He was a very important scientist in the area of agriculture.  When was the card sent?  I could tell that the last digit was a four, but were we talking about 1904, 1914, 1924 or 1934?  I looked at the stamp which cost 25 centimos (more expensive than the 10 centimo stamps on all of Maude's postcards from 1910).  Another important clue was the stamp had the words "Republica Española".  This was very important: Spain became a Republic in 1931.  From that piece of information, and more that I discovered about the particular stamp, I could deduce that the card must have been mailed in 1934.

Then I discovered something totally unexpected.  While reading about Walter T. Swingle, I found out that in 1915 he married... Maude Kellerman!  Further research showed that she had co-authored a paper on botany with Dr. Swingle.  As I continued to dig, I discovered that Maude was an accomplished botanist herself.  Perhaps that is why she signed the postcards to her mother with the nickname "Mariquita", Spanish for Lady Bug?

How did all these cards end up at the Jurupa Cultural Center in Riverside, California where I purchased them?  For many years, Dr. Swingle worked at the University of California, Riverside.  This is likely the connection that brought Maude's postcards to me.  When I looked again at the postcard sent to Miss Maude Kellerman on 23 January 1916, I could now clearly read the signature: Walter Swingle!


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