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Lyn Smith Manduley Letters

Identifier: Manuscripts-Collection 116

Scope and Contents

1939-1945.  Letters of this freelance writer to her parents during her six-year residence in Lima, Peru, with her husband who worked for the Panagra airline. Describes the daily life of Americans in Peru during World War II, trips within Peru and to Bolivia and Chile, earthquakes, highway construction, and archaeological sites. 88 letters; 9 enclosures. The collection consists of handwritten and typed letters that Evelyn Smith Manduley (1906-) sent from Peru to her parents Mr. and Mrs. Frederick S. Smith of Morristown, New Jersey, during a six year period when she lived in Lima with her husband, Manuel Manduley. The letters end abruptly with no exact date of the Manduleys' time of departure from Peru. The materials reflects what life was like for those in the American colony of Lima during and after the war. Evelyn wrote to her family on a weekly basis, but only a fraction of the letters are preserved in this collection. Many of the envelopes bear the marks of the inspections of the United States censors. As the letters begin, in 1939, Evelyn and her new husband have just moved to Peru, and have been already living abroad for several years when the United States enters World War II. Until that time, Evelyn has been strongly opposed to any action that would involve her country (see June 5, 1940). Yet, once war is declared, she gives her full support to the war effort, as a member of the American colony. She works with the American Womens' Unit for War Relief- takes part in numerous war benefits (see June 5, 1942 and February 22, 1945, for example)- entertains American troops and various dignitaries passing through or stationed in Lima, both in her home as well as a facility which would be equivalent to the American USO. Entertaining visiting Americans was always a responsibility for Evelyn. Among Evelyn's guests have been the wife of the American Ambassador to Peru, the American Consul, and even Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Hoover, Jr. (see August 27, 1940). Evelyn duly reports other, more mundane activities such as her experience with the household help. Evelyn also writes of the difficulty in balancing the problems encountered in managing a home in a foreign country with her research, interviewing, reporting, and writing. The cost of living is a constant concern for Evelyn. Although her husband surely must earn an adequate salary, there seems never to be enough money to live at ease. Thus, the price of everything is mentioned in the letters: food, rent, imports, transportation, servants' wages, fabrics, the dressmaker and tailor, the beauty shop, furniture, entertainment, etc. For instance, the cost of a shampoo, finger wave, and manicure is said to be one dollar American or five "soles." The Manduleys make ends meet by renting out their spare room. Shortages seem to be due mostly from the difficulties of transporting goods during war-time. Meat, rice, and coffee are scarce, while such commodities as sugar and gasoline are plentiful. In her letter dated May 11, 1942, Evelyn expresses her concern for the impoverished Peruvian families who will bare the brunt of the shortage and the ensuing rise in food prices. Gardening is a particular interest of Evelyn's. She often writes of the flowers and vegetables she is planting in her roof garden or backyard. Evelyn will occasionally comment on the current developments in Peru. In the letter of October 10, 1944, she gives her opinion of the upcoming presidential election. In the letter of October 12, 1942, she writes of the Peruvian Festival held in Honor of "El Señor de los Milagros," as well as describes the various Independence Day celebrations of July. Evelyn also gives some information on the guano industry in her letter of August 20, 1940. The effects of the earthquake of May 24, 1940, are mentioned by Evelyn in the June letters of that year (unfortunately the two letters written immediately after the quake are missing). Evelyn tends to dismiss the severity of the quake in Lima and the portrayal of it in the New York Times . Evelyn does admit, however, that there is minor damage in the city and quite extensive damage in Callao and Chorillos. The Manduleys make several trips: to Cuba in February of 1940 - to Chile in early 1941 - to archaeological site of Tiahuanaco in Bolivia, which she describes in July of 1941 - and back to Cuba and then to the United States in the fall of 1941. They make several trips around Peru as well. Evelyn describes in detail their trip by car to Ica and Pisco to the south in July of 1942. Evelyn gives a very thorough account of the area and resources of Tingo María in October of that same year. The Manduleys make the excursion is to gather information on the inter-oceanic highway under construction for an upcoming article. Another interesting trip is made to Satipo on the eastern slopes of the Andes in July of 1944 (including comments on the Indians and the scenery). The family affairs of Evelyn's parents and brothers are a predominant topic in her letters. Evelyn's concern for her family is evident. Her parents, who own numerous pieces of real estate, have fallen on hard times and suffer from a variety of health problems. Evelyn sends home all the money she can, garnered from her writing assignments, to help them pay their taxes and avoid foreclosure. She offers advice and moral support throughout the correspondence as well. Out of her desire not to upset her parents, Evelyn leaves out any mention to the problems Manuel experiences with Panagra in 1942, until he has resigned and accepted another position. Surprisingly, but somewhat understandably, Evelyn does not mention in any of the letters that she is expecting a baby until after the birth of her son Carlos in 1943. Thereafter, he is a frequent subject of the letters. Among enclosures found in the letters are a few clippings and two small black and white snapshots of the Manduleys' house and of their favorite beach. Evelyn also sends a sample of a coffee blossom and some tea leaves from Tingo María. These are retained with the letters, as are the original envelopes.


  • 1939-1945


Conditions Governing Access

Open to the public. No known restrictions.

Biographical or Historical Information

A free-lance writer, Evelyn Smith Manduley contributed to such publications as the New York Times , the Baltimore Sun, Life, and the Inter-American Monthly (later named the Inter-American), under the pen name, Lyn Smith Manduley. Her husband, Manuel, was a naturalized United States citizen of Cuban birth who worked first for the Peruvian airline, Panagra, and later for the United States government. He was a writer as well, and occasionally contributed to his wife's articles. Information on the lives and careers of both the Manduleys, along with photographs, appear with the publication of their articles in the journal the Inter-American Monthly. See Vol. I, No. 5, September 1942, Lynn Smith Manduley, "Citadel of Freedom," on San Marcos University: Vol. II, No. 2, February 1943, and Vol. II, No. 4, April 1943, Lyn Smith and Manuel de J. Manduley, "Wings and Wheels for South America," (Parts I and II) on transportation; Vol. III, No. 1, January 1944, and Vol.III, No. 2, February 1944, Lyn Smith and E.H. Clayton, "'EL Rey de los Andes,'" (Parts I and II) on the Faucett airline, and Vol. V, No. 11, November 1946, Lyn Smith Manduley, "The People's Warrior," on Raúl Haya de la Torre.

Note written by


97.00 Pieces

Language of Materials


Lyn Smith Manduley Letters
Manuscript Collection 116, Manuscripts, The Latin American Library, Tulane University
Ruth Olivera, April 1994; revised by Devin Dittfurth, August 1998
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Latin American Library at Tulane Repository

7001 Freret Street
Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, 4th floor
Tulane University
New Orleans Louisiana 70118 US
(504) 865-5681