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A Guide to the Laura Mabel Brooking Collection

Finding aid prepared by John R. Nemmers

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
August 2004 (revised February 2016)

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Brooking, Laura Mabell, 1898-
Title: Laura Mabel Brooking Collection
Dates: 1906-1913, 1969, undated
Abstract: Laura Mabel (Byram) Brooking, daughter of Fred Byram, locomotive engineer in Panama, grew up in the Canal Zone during the years of its construction. This collection contains photographs, publications, artifacts, and postcards detailing people and places in the Zone during this period, including depictions of daily life, transportation, buildings, and the regional landscape.
Extent: 0.4 Linear feet. 1 Box.
Identification: MS Group 172
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

Laura Mabel (Byram) Brooking was born on February 23, 1898. Her father, Fred Byram, was a locomotive engineer in Panama and the family lived in various places including Culebra and Cristobal. She grew up in the Canal Zone during the years it was under construction and attended the Canal Zone High School. She married Howard Brooking in 1920.

Scope and Content

The Laura Mabel Brooking Collection is primarily comprised of photographs and photographic cards showing people and places in the Panama Canal Zone during the period of its construction, though only a few photographs show the actual construction of the canal. Subjects detailed in the photographs include daily life for individuals and families, transportation via locomotives, buildings, and the landscape of the region. Also included are a large pictorial publication and a magazine, both of which feature images of the canal. The majority of the photos are unidentified and undated.

Additionally, some artifacts are housed in the collection. These include Canal Zone soil samples contained in two glass vials; two pennants from Panama, one from the Canal Zone High School; and a certificate from the Independent Order of the Panamanian Kangaroos, the largest and strongest fraternal organization in the Canal Zone, presented to F. Byram.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Laura Mabel Brooking Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated in 1991 by Rosalie Byram Moore, daughter of Laura Mabel Brooking, with the assistance of Eleanor D. Burnham, former chief librarian of the Panama Canal Zone.

Contents List

Box Folder
11 Brochure: "The Panama Canal, Gates of World Trade." undated
12 Brochure: "Visit San Blas, Millenary Land of the Cunas." undated
1OS1 Certificate: Independent Order of Panamanian Kangaroos to F. Byram. circa 1906
1OS2 Pennant: "Canal Zone High School, CZHS, Isthmo de Panama". undated
1OS3 Pennant: "Panama" including the Panamanian seal. undated
13 Photographs: African women next to a house. undated
14 Photographs: Buildings. undated
15 Photographs: Children. undated
16 Photographs: Crew working at railroad. undated
17 Photographs: Docks at Gatun. undated
18 Photographs: Family outside their house. undated
19 Photographs: Family walking on a path across a bushy area. undated
110 Photographs: Gathering looks on as uniformed men march. undated
111 Photographs: Gathering of men staring at something (or waiting for something). undated
112 Photographs: Gatun Locks (aerial view, from a calendar). undated
113 Photographs: Horse taken to beach for a ride. undated
114 Photographs: Image of a lady at a garden. undated
115 Photographs: Image of an old building. undated
116 Photographs: Image of horses tied to rails at a small town. undated
117 Photographs: Images of a group standing in a field. undated
118 Photographs: Locomotive departing a station. undated
119 Photographs: Man and children standing on a steam locomotive. undated
120 Photographs: Man and four women at a door. undated
121 Photographs: Man and woman enjoying the view. undated
122 Photographs: Man and woman looking at the ground. undated
123 Photographs: Man and woman (with a dog) standing on a porch. undated
124 Photographs: Man in uniform speaking to children. undated
125 Photographs: Man on a ship at sea. undated
126 Photographs: Man standing next to a ship. undated
127 Photographs: Man standing on a raised platform. undated
128 Photographs: Men and women gathered in front of a tent. undated
129 Photographs: Men with guns and knives. undated
130 Photographs: Owner of coffee plantation. undated
131 Photographs: Passenger train as it starts up a mountain. undated
132 Photographs: Photographic Christmas card featuring the S.S. Panama in Culebra Cut near Empire, Panama Canal. undated
133 Photographs: Roads between buildings. undated
134 Photographs: Steam locomotives. undated
135 Photographs: Steam locomotives. undated
136 Photographs: Some women and a child relaxing on a porch. undated
137 Photographs: The sea. undated
138 Photographs: Three ladies in front of a disbursing office. undated
139 Photographs: Two men in front of a drainage. undated
140 Photographs: Two women and a man standing in front of a building. undated
141 Photographs: Two women in white dresses. undated
142 Photographs: Two women standing in front of a building. undated
143 Photographs: View of a garden. undated
144 Photographs: View of Panama Canal looking north and south (2 photos). undated
145 Photographs: Views of the construction site. undated
146 Photographs: Woman bathing kids. undated
147 Photographs: Woman standing next to a banana tree. undated
148 Photographs: Women standing in the field. undated
149 Postcards: Administrative Building, Balboa, Canal Zone. undated
150 Postcards: Home-made irrigation plant. undated
151 Postcards: 6 postcards with notes on Panama. undated
152 Postcards: 8 postcards of Panama subjects. undated
153 Program: Fourth of July celebration, Cristobal, Canal Zone. 1910
154 Publication: Panama: A Pictorial Description of the Isthmian Canal of To-day by C. L. Chester. 1908
155 Publication: Panama Canal Review Special 55th Anniversary Issue. 1969
156 Publication: The Zonian, Canal Zone High School (three issues). 1911-1913
157 Soil samples in glass containers (2 items). undated
158 Typescript: Our Panama Canal, Part I: The Acquisition. undated

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Brooking, Laura Mabel, 1898-
Canal Zone
Panama--Panama Canal

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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