Porters Carrying Trunks on Their Back, La Paz, Bolivia


This photograph of La Paz, Bolivia is from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress. Frank G. Carpenter (1855–1924) was an American writer of books on travel and world geography, whose works helped to popularize cultural anthropology and geography in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. Consisting of photographs taken and gathered by Carpenter and his daughter Frances (1890–1972) to illustrate his writings, the collection includes an estimated 16,800 photographs and 7,000 glass and film negatives. As recounted in Carpenter’s Geographical Reader: South America (1899), the photograph recalls an episode from Carpenter’s visit to the city. Cabs and other vehicles generally were not used in the narrow, hilly streets. All the freighting was done “by donkeys, ponies, llamas, and men.” Carpenter described how a group of Bolivian men helped him and his crew to transport their belongings: “There are a dozen porters about the stage office. We give each man a trunk, and he trots off to the hotel up the hills with the trunk on his back, while we walk behind.”

Last updated: September 29, 2014