Summering Abroad with the Hunter Family
In this summer exhibit we highlight why and how Victorians traveled and what they chose to bring home to commemorate those travels. The Hunter Family traveled extensively, so we are very lucky to have a number of unique items on display!
You might be wondering why travel was so important for the Victorians. By the time the Hunters moved into this home, the world had witnessed the rise of technologies that made both leisure time and advanced communication and travel possible. Railways, ocean liners, and even automobiles made travel easy, affordable, and convenient from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century.
Some Victorians chose to travel simply for leisure, others did so with more social purposes, such as securing an overseas marriage or displaying their wealth. Some women even chose to travel for political and religious reasons. Women throughout the nineteenth century are documented as traveling as missionaries to exotic places like the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Some women, particularly those who considered themselves scholarly, traveled to solidify their places as researchers and scientists. Many studied botany, astronomy, and other sciences, which were primarily reserved for men at that time. Travel allowed women a sense of autonomy and independence they were not always granted in the states.
Men likewise travelled for business, sometimes in search of investments. They occasionally turned these business trips into family vacations by including their wives and children. Families took vacations that ranged in price and experience- everything from a seaside afternoon to a month in Tibet. With the rise of labor laws and restrictions, the working class began to have time off and weekends to spend with their families, which they would use for leisure time and travel. Travel was something that could be enjoyed by everyone. It was one of the few common factors of all people at the turn of the century.
Now, people loved to bring home souvenirs from their travels, which you will also see throughout the home. The Hunters were fond of attending world’s fairs and expositions as well. They also left us some of their travel documentation, such as Eloise’s passport, a much larger document than the ones we have today! Eloise was the youngest child of three and the last one to live in this home. She and her sister and brother, along with their parents, all lived in this home until they died. None of the siblings ever married or had children of their own, so when Eloise passed away in 1965 she left the home to be made into a museum with all of their furnishings and belongings. We are really excited for you to be able to experience just a fraction of our usually stored collection of items dealing with travel.