Letters of Henrietta McCallick

On a visit to Nice, France in the 1980s, my grandfather met his French cousins for the first time, and received a box of letters that his mother, Henrietta, had written to her uncle, Désiré. Henrietta regularly corresponded with her uncle between 1937 and 1940. This is the first page of one of those letters. During her correspondence with her French family, Henrietta was living with her husband and five sons in El Paso, Texas. Désiré was in Strasbourg (technically in Germany), in the Alsace region bordering France. Complicating their transatlantic relationship, Henrietta was Mexican by birth, and had immigrated to El Paso in 1911. Her husband, Hugh (or “Hugo”), was also Mexican. The couple had similar stories: both had fled Mexico with their families during the Mexican Revolution, settling just across the border in El Paso, Texas. Henrietta and Hugh's ancestors had immigrated to Mexico from Ireland and France, respectively. When the war in Mexico broke out, the families were forced out due to the animosity of the revolutionary fighters toward landowning, European immigrants. They rebuilt their lives in El Paso, but maintained ties with their extended families in Mexico and, as Henrietta's letters show, in Europe. Some of the letters were translated into French and German so that Henrietta's European relatives could read them. I think they perfectly encapsulate the beautiful complexity, the messiness of my family's heritage, and their experience of transnationalism.

Year: 1938

– Brenna McCallick

Relationship:  unknown unknown