In 2010, the rediscovery of a box containing Dorothy Guyott’s postcards and letters inspired a thesis on the road trip that she took with Edith and Evelyn Stohl in 1929. Additionally, the cedar box consisted of one letter sent to Dorothy by her stepmother, labeled “undeliverable,” which was returned to Bridgeport, CT. Newspaper clippings related to things that the girls saw during their trip, booklets from the National Parks they visited, and brochures from some of the campgrounds were also in the box. To round out the box’s contents, two newspaper articles were also inside, the first about the girls and their trip and the second was Dorothy’s wedding announcement, which also mentioned the trip.
It’s a fascinating collection, and it needed to expand beyond the confines of the cedar box it had been kept in since 1929. Needing a thesis topic, I knew that this trip had to play a part, but because it was for a thesis I needed to do more than retell the story, as a thesis needs an argument and analysis.
So I turned to what was written in the postcards and letters and looked for patterns in the topics that were written about. One of the big subjects was clothing, everything from doing laundry to the purchase of blue jeans; and this is the subject I chose to examine for my thesis. There are more though, but due to a page limit for my thesis, I could not go into the subjects of food, the price of commodities, and many of their activities. I can now.
I also hinged on a sentence from the interview with the three that the newspaper published, that they wanted to go on this trip without outside help. That got me thinking, what help was out there, and could it really be avoided so that the girls could make a go of it alone?