In 1995 the City of Pasadena published an extensive report researched and written by Carson Anderson. His “Ethnic History Research Project” has chapters focused on lots of ethnic groups that have lived in Pasadena. Mexican, Black, Japanese, Chinese, Jewish, Swedish, German and more; it’s a long list. A fine read accompanied by some old school xeroxed images. Lots of insight into the complexity of the history of our city.
I learned about the document in about 1998. I was excited to be able to use his work in my research. In the section where he reports on the Mexican community I was struck by a name and a fact. The name: Maria Guadalupe Evangelina Lopez de Lowther. The fact: she graduated from Pasadena High School and was the youngest teacher at USC in 1903.
I don’t know about you but give me a fact and a name and I want an image. So I began to look for a photo of the woman who was known alternately as Eva or Maria. After looking at countless images, I found her name listed in a group picture taken in1907 at Los Angeles High School. The photo is part of the Digital Library/The California Historical Society Collection. Getting closer.
But where was she was in the group picture. Given the complexity of the heritage of Latinas and Latinos, I couldn’t be sure who she might be in this photo. Dark hair, light hair, dark skin, light skin, curly hair, straight hair??????? Something in between? The possibilities are endless given the heritage of the Iberian peninsula, Africa, and meso-America. Let’s not even begin to remember the Irish Mexicanos. Only wild guesses as to where she might be in the picture.
And being a historian this bothered me. It’s been very much like the where did I put my glasses routine. I know they’re around … but I still can’t find them.
Somewhere in the image below is the face that goes with the last name Lopez de Lowther. I had hoped that if I could see the back of the image there might some hint that would give me insight to lead me to … an answer.
In the last ten years I’ve never had a chance to explore the USC archives and see the back of the photo. This fall I got a chance and discovered the image and the legend of numbers and names.
María Guadalupe Evangelina López de Lowther.
Graduate of Pasadena High School in 1897, with a B.S. and M.A, lecturer in Spanish at University of California, Southern Branch (later known as UCLA), and translator of various papers that relate to the 19th century. She was related to Claudio Lopez, Mayrodomo at the San Gabriel Mission at the same time Eulalia Pérez de Guillen was La Llavera. Her husband Hugh Lowther was a Professor at Occidental College. Mrs. López de Lowther spent her last years active in the City of San Gabriel.