See America First: Tourism and National Identity, 1880-1940
In 1892, Stephen Merritt, a New York City minister, embarked on a summer tour to California and Alaska, traveling in private Pullman railcars and stopping at many noted attractions, including Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks. In his journal, Merritt chronicled his trip as a patriotic ritual of citizenship. Half a century later Jack Kerouac stuck out his thumb to catch a ride to California, in search of a "real" America of workers, farmers, and tramps, and described his travels as a personal rite of passage in On the Road.In See America First, Marguerite Shaffer chronicles the birth of modern American tourism between 1880 and 1940, linking tourism to the simultaneous growth of national transportation systems, print media, a national market, and a middle class with money and time to spend on leisure. Focusing on the See America First slogan and idea employed at different times by railroads, guidebook publishers, Western boosters, and Good Roads advocates, she describes both the modern marketing strategies used to promote tourism and the messages of patriotism and loyalty embedded in the tourist experience. She shows how tourists as consumers participated in the search for a national identity.
Generously illustrated, See America First demonstrates that the promotion and consumption of tourist experiences were central to the development of an American identity.