Alice Gatliff Pictorial Collection
Scope and Content
Gatliff’s shop was in the middle of the battles that took place in Agua Prieta in April 1911 during the Mexican Revolution, reportedly receiving around 100 bullet holes in its walls. Regardless of the damage and danger in the town, Gatliff remained selling postcards with images of the revolution to tourists and was considered to be friends with whomever entered her shop and café, revolutionary or federalista. Records show that Generals Álvaro Obregón Salido and Plutarco Elías Calles both frequented her shop, even using it as a meeting place. Gatliff’s relatives would later recall that she also had a close friendship with revolutionaries, like Pancho Villa, though this has not been confirmed in her archival records. Traveling to nearby Naco, Sonora and within her own town of Agua Prieta, Gatliff visited the camps of revolutionaries, snapping their photos and portrait of Federal Troops to sell in her store, cashing in on the photo postcard trend of the time.
Her shop prospered in the following years and she would marry her sixth husband, a Bisbee miner named John O’Laughlin, in 1914. They divorced a few years later in 1917 with Alice citing domestic violence as the reason for the separation. Gatliff opened more businesses across the border in Douglas Arizona, another curio shop and a florist, in 1916 and 1920, respectively. In April 1920, Calles and Obergon signed the Plan de Agua Prieta, which proclaimed the generals from the state of Sonora in revolt against President Venustiano Carranza. Regardless of the patronage of the Mexican government officials during this time, Gatliff’s shop seems to also prosper as a place just across the border to drink for American tourists during the Prohibition Era. She used her prospering businesses to help care for the town’s children, even passing out bags of candies and fruit and a whistle to all the children in Agua Prieta on Christmas in 1913 and in other years after procuring a large Christmas tree for the town square.
During the Escobar Rebellion in 1929, revolutionaries banished Gatliff from Mexico for a short time, but she returned to her Curio Café without incident to live out the rest of her life in Agua Prieta. On April 8, 1936, Gatliff went to light her kerosene stove and the fuel exploded. She was pronounced dead the next day and buried beside Charles Gatliff. Her obituary lauded her as significant figure in Agua Prieta whose charity touched the lives of many within the community.
“Both Generous and Brave is Heroine of Agua Prieta Battle.” Bisbee Daily Review. December 25, 1913.
Hayostek, Cindy. 2007. Alice Gatliff : Forgotten Woman of the Mexican Revolution. Borderland Chronicles: No. 1.
“Mrs. Gatliff, Friend of Presidents, Dies.” Arizona Daily Star. April 10, 1936.
Thompson, Vickie Beard. “Aunt Alice.” I Dig My Roots and Branches.
Special, Jan Cleere. "Western Women: Alice Gatliff's Curio Store Saw Role in Mexican Civil War." Arizona Daily Star January 19th 2020. Updated October 16th 2020. Cochise Quarterly Volume 15, Number 1 Spring 1985 14-16.
354 items (1 box) : 347 postcards and photographs, 7 documents
Language of Materials
Images Available Online
- Agua Prieta (Sonora, Mexico) -- History -- 20th century -- Pictorial works
- Mexico -- History -- Revolution, 1910-1920
- Mormon women -- Pictorial works
- Mormons -- Mexico -- 20th century
- Photographic postcards
- Revolutionaries -- Mexico -- Portraits
- Tourism -- Mexico -- 20th century -- Pictorial works
- Finding Aid of the Alice Gatliff Pictorial Collection, 1907-1949
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- Breanna Reiss
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