Around the World with Aloha Wanderwell Baker: Gender and Authorship in Travelogue Lecture Filmmaking
Around the World with Aloha Wanderwell Baker: Gender and Authorship in Travelogue Lecture Filmmaking analyzes the professional practice of Aloha Wanderwell Baker, a travel lecture filmmaker of the 20th century, who is recognized as the first woman to go around the world by car. Born Idris Galicia Hall in 1906, in Winnipeg, Canada, she lived in France and Belgium before joining Walter Wanderwell on a worldwide tour in 1922 under the stage name Aloha Wanderwell. From 1922 until 1950, Aloha traveled to more than 50 countries, capturing moving image footage and photographs, presenting travelogue lectures, and writing about her many adventures. During the span of her career, she produced 11 travelogue lecture films, two autobiographies, and a nationally broadcast radio show. Throughout her career, she demonstrated a dedication and commitment to the conservation and preservation of her work, maintaining multiple copies and versions of many of her films. Beginning in the 1970s, however, and continuing until her death in 1996, Aloha began to donate and deposit her papers, film materials, and photographs to archives and collecting institutions across the country. Through in-depth historical research of her personal papers, marketing materials, correspondence, and local and national newspapers and visual analyses of her travelogue lecture films, I demonstrate how Aloha’s career offers a lens into the professional practice of other women who were travel lecture filmmakers during the first half of the 20th century. To date, scholarship on travel lecture filmmaking has focused predominantly on the men in the profession (Alexander Black, Burton Holmes, Lyman Howe, Father Hubbard, John L. Stoddard, and Lowell Thomas). However, I counter this gendered precedent in my dissertation through my study of Aloha, bringing a contrasting history into focus, showcasing her particular practices and contributions, and highlighting what differentiated women’s travelogues and lectures. Through Aloha, I argue that women who worked as travelogue lecture filmmakers were distinct from their male counterparts and represented an integral part of the development of the profession.