Tapping a Rubber Tree, Motagua Valley, Guatemala


This photograph from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress shows a man tapping a rubber tree in the valley of the Motagua River in Guatemala. 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. This photograph appeared in Land of the Caribbean (1925), part of the Carpenter's World Travels series, with the caption: “The lower Motagua Valley of eastern Guatemala is covered with a dense jungle growth of trees and creepers, among which are rubber trees that are tapped by the natives for their latex.” The Motagua River rises in the highlands of western Guatemala and flows eastward to the Gulf of Honduras. In the early 1900s, rubber was Guatemala’s fourth leading export, after coffee, timber, and hides.

Last updated: September 29, 2014