The Cartwright Family Wanderchart

Born on a farm in Tennessee in 1891, Wilburn Cartwright grew up to be the “most elected man in Oklahoma government.” Cartwright served the state of Oklahoma as a state representative, state senator, secretary of state, and state auditor for the better part of six decades. A school teacher, lawyer, Army officer, father, and politician, Cartwright captures what life was like for many Americans during the 20th century, including his love of travel.

While the Carl Albert Center collections are full of well-traveled congressmen, Cartwright stands out from the rest because of the era in which he traveled and his willingness to travel with his wife and two daughters. His penchant for traveling resulted in trips to the Orient (including Hawaii, Japan, China, and the Philippines), Europe, Haiti, Panama, Puerto Rico and Mexico--all during the 1930s. He experienced Asia a couple of years before the Second Sino-Japanese War and Europe mere months after the Anschluss and the expansion of the Third Reich, all alongside Carrie, Doralyn, and Wilburta.

Image from "My Trip Abroad" a travel journal kept by Cartwright.

An avid note taker, Cartwright had a travel journal called a “Wanderchart,” which had an outline map to aid in visually keeping “track of your footsteps across the face of the globe” and Cartwright did just that with it. Using a pencil, Cartwright traced the path that he and his family took on their trip to the Orient in 1935 and their trip to Europe in 1938. Cartwright’s collection is filled with writings, souvenirs, and photographs of these trips and provides a wonderful lens through which to view the dramatically changing world of the 1930s.

This exhibit was curated by OU graduate students Heather C. Walser (History) and Nicole D. Sutton (School of Library and Information Studies)