Building a Dream by Megan Evans
When beginning this project, there were boxes pulled from the Topolobampo Collection without any clear purpose or direction so that we could find what spoke to each of us. I found the scrapbooks most appealing due to the extensiveness of them. Each book was almost filled entirely of various newspaper clippings and documents from the colony. These scrapbooks were created with the goal of collecting information on how to create the ideal society that Albert K. Owen strived for, how the colony was discussed, and the aftermath of Topolobampo. Many of the writings within the scrapbooks are from Owen who created the majority of them. Many of the scrapbooks were created with special care in mind of what Owen liked about socialism and co-operative labor unions. They are organized by labels, although some of the later ones do not have a label, and they were meant for certain departments under the umbrella of the Credit Foncier Company.
From this vast collection of information, I found a trail of documents that led Owen to his dream of Topolobampo. From these newspaper clippings, it was easy to see where he gathered his information from and why he chose to do the things he did. These findings reveal a man who carefully crafted his ideal city and spent time making choices at the prospect of creating a better place for laborers. He was indeed a well-read man, but these scrapbooks put that into perspective. Hundreds of pages were read and chosen to be placed in these scrapbooks. How this exhibit is laid out is to try and demonstrate the collection of clippings alongside his ideas working together to form Topolobampo and his Railroad project.
In “Ideal City Planning,” documents relating to Owen’s ideas on socialism and capitalism can be found along with connections made to how well received these ideas were. These newspaper clippings are a collection of what worked and didn’t work for socialism and capitalism that Owen took into consideration. In “Railroad Plan and Other Opportunities,” these clippings reveal Owen’s knowledge of the railroad business and other ideas he possibly explored in order to put Topolobampo on the map. Finally, in “Owen’s Relationships,” there is an exploration of how his business dealings and dream interconnected with his personal relationships.
Through these scrapbooks, we can see the structure of Owen’s ideas and the aftermath from them. While they are not always visually appealing, the importance of these newspaper clippings and collection of documents show the years of research and dedication that Owen had for his Topolobampo city. His ideas and dreams were grand, but there were dreams he thought possible despite the resistance and ridicule he received for it. It as this realization, Owen’s words stand out: “To do anything well man shall plan observingly, deeply and broadly, and not be in a hurry to finish” (151). His dream was monumental, but his mind was clear that with time, his dream could become a reality. This is what most likely kept him persistent until his death.
Owen, Albert Kimsey. Integral Co-Operation at Work. John W. Lovell Company, 1890.