By Eric C. Cimino

The Journal of San Diego History
San Diego History Center Quarterly
Summer Fall 2015, Volume 61, Number 3 & 4
Full Article (PDF)

In January 1914, the editorial page of The San Diego Union promised that the upcoming Panama-California Exposition would usher in a “new era” in the city’s history. San Diego would “emerge from its semi-isolation…and take on the dignity of a metropolis, a great seaport, and a commercial center.” There was a dark side, however, to this anticipated transformation as the newspaper reported that the city would soon be overwhelmed with “thousands of strangers and to these will be added thousands of immigrants who will make this port their landing place.” Among the newcomers would be many inexperienced young women who faced the threat of exploitation by criminals active in sex trafficking, known as the white-slave trade.1 This “army of vice” abducted women and forced them into prostitution; it was blamed for myriad disappearances at world fairs in Chicago and St. Louis.2 As San Diego prepared to host the Panama-California Exposition, the Union urged the city’s leading women to be aggressive in countering white slavery and safeguarding “feminine virtue.”3

To confront the interconnected problems of urban growth, tourism, immigration, and the sex trade, San Diego women and their supporters established the Travelers’ Aid Society of San Diego (TAS-SD) in late 1914. Its mission was to prevent prostitution and other forms of exploitation by providing social workers to greet female travelers at the city’s train station, docks, and on the exposition’s fairgrounds. The TAS-SD intended to reach young women before they fell into the clutches of the “army of vice” by escorting travelers to hotels, rooming houses, and institutions that were considered safe and respectable. The group helped stranded travelers locate family members and friends, attempted to return runaways to their parents, cared for sick passengers, and provided follow-up social services.

The new TAS-SD was part of a larger travelers’ aid movement that had coalesced in response to the moral and sexual dangers thought to confront single women as they increasingly entered American cities in search of work and leisure.4 To protect travelers, sectarian organizations like the YWCA, the Council of Jewish Women, and the African American-led White Rose Mission began providing travelers’ aid in late nineteenth-century cities such as Boston, New York, and Chicago.5 The world’s fairs further stimulated the growth of the travelers’ aid movement.6 In anticipation of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, the national leadership of the YWCA began planning for a nation-wide travelers’ aid network. It urged every local YWCA in the United States to create a Travelers’ Aid Department and called for the compilation of a national directory of YWCAs that offered lodging to female travelers and the creation of a standard badge to be worn by travelers’ aid workers across the country.7

When the Louisiana Purchase Exposition opened, the YWCA was ready with its Exposition Travelers’ Aid Committee, chaired by Grace Hoadley Dodge.8 From its combined headquarters in New York and St. Louis, the committee coordinated travelers’ aid services to and from the fair. It distributed “278,000 leaflets, circulars, placards, and cards” from coast to coast to publicize its work. On the ground in St. Louis, the committee placed over a dozen trained workers who were on the lookout for travelers in distress.9 Subsequent world’s fairs in Portland, Oregon, (1905) and Jamestown, Virginia, (1907) saw similar national travelers’ aid networks take shape.10 In each case, however, the formal network dissolved at fair’s end. As a result, a permanent national travelers’ aid coalition did not exist when the cities of San Francisco and San Diego prepared to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal in 1915.

For the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) in San Francisco, the exposition’s Woman’s Board initially planned to enlist the local YWCA to provide travelers’ aid. Its mission was to ensure that the PPIE had a “clean bill of moral health” and that all those who wished to attend the fair, especially girls and young women, could do so safely.11 To this end, the Woman’s Board proposed that the YWCA expand its routine travelers’ aid work during the exposition year. The San Francisco YWCA declined, however, believing that such an undertaking was beyond its capabilities. The PPIE, therefore, sought outside help.12

By 1913, there was a new leader of the travelers’ aid movement, the Travelers’ Aid Society of New York. Its general secretary Orin Baker was committed to establishing a national umbrella organization that would unite all travelers’  aid societies and departments in the United States. His goal was to build such a coalition for the PPIE and, unlike earlier travelers’ aid efforts, make it permanent. To promote his vision, Baker embarked on a national tour in 1913 that brought him to forty-six states, including California.13

San Francisco women learned of Baker’s campaign and promptly summoned him in the fall of 1913 for the dual purposes of establishing a local and national Travelers’ Aid Society.14 He was in San Francisco by mid-January 1914 and, two months later, oversaw the incorporation of the Travelers’ Aid Society of California (TAS-California). Following a model pioneered by the Travelers’ Aid Society of New York, the TAS-California was non-sectarian and featured prominent Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant leaders on its Board of Directors.15 It also contained representatives from San Francisco’s business, railroad, legal, educational, and welfare sectors. M. H. Robbins was the TAS-California’s first president and Milton Esberg led the Executive Committee. Another important founder was Helen Sanborn, the president of the exposition’s Woman’s Board.16

Orin Baker did not confine his attention only to San Francisco. In January 1914, the general secretary also traveled to San Diego with the intention of drumming up support for a Travelers’ Aid Society prior to the onset of the Panama-California Exposition.17 He met with city business leaders including George Marston on January 25 and gave a public address at the San Diego YWCA the following day. In its coverage of his speech, The San Diego Union agreed that San Diego would soon see an influx of tourists and immigrants, many of them young women. Baker believed that a stand-alone TAS was the key to safeguarding women, thousands of whom, he claimed, had disappeared at previous world’s fairs. The Union, however, was not ready to endorse a Travelers’ Aid Society; instead, it stressed the role of the city’s YWCA in protecting visitors from “the evils that will be spread for them at every turn.”18

The Travelers’ Aid Society of San Diego

For its part, the YWCA was not convinced that it could successfully coordinate large-scale travelers’ aid and welcomed Baker’s return to San Diego in mid- October 1914. On this occasion, Baker addressed delegates from the city’s welfare organizations at the San Diego Hotel. He urged audience members to form a provisional committee charged with establishing an independent Travelers’ Aid Society. According to Baker, social welfare providers from the east were deeply concerned about the safety of women traveling west for the two expositions. If adequate provisions for “moral protection” were not in place by January 1, 1915, social workers would have no choice but to urge eastern women to stay away from California.19

Confronted with this ultimatum, the leading citizens in attendance unanimously agreed to establish the Travelers’ Aid Society of San Diego (TAS-SD). Among those who pushed for the TAS-SD was Edith Shatto King, a social worker and co-author of the influential investigative report Pathfinder Social Survey of San Diego (1914).20 King justified the need for a TAS in terms of the city’s immediate and long-term future. San Diego, she announced, faced a rush of fair visitors “from all over the world” and eventually would have to deal with a severe “immigration problem” due to the Panama Canal. Only a “strong” and non-sectarian Travelers’ Aid Society could handle these attendant pressures. The gathering ended with a pledge from Panama-California Exposition president G.A. Davidson that his board would “cooperate with the San Diego Travelers’ Aid Society in every way to protect visitors to San Diego during [the] Exposition year.”21

The fledgling TAS-SD was under considerable time pressure, especially when compared to its sister organization in San Francisco, which had almost a year to prepare for the opening of the PPIE. In contrast, the TAS-SD had to be ready in less than three months. Incorporation took place in November and the TAS-SD held its first official meeting on December 23, 1914, in the Snyder Building at 835 Sixth Street.22  The leadership included many of the most prominent civic and religious leaders in San Diego. Noted physician Frederick R. Burnham served as President, while the liberal rabbi Montague Cohen of Temple Beth-Israel acted as First Vice President. Other religious figures on the first Board of Directors were Rev. Father T. N. O’Toole, Rev. Charles Barnes, and Rev. W. H. Geistweit. The board also featured important business, civic, railroad, and welfare leaders such as the department store owner and reformer George Marston, wealthy philanthropist and city booster Ellen Browning Scripps, journalist Eva Bird Bosworth, and banker and exposition president G.A. Davidson.23

For use as its headquarters, the TAS-SD secured a room in the eight-story Timken Building at Sixth Avenue and E Street, free of charge.24 In mid-January 1915, it hired its first worker, Ella Thomas, who for the preceding five years had been the YWCA’s agent at the Santa Fe station.25 By March, three other female workers had joined Thomas and served at the train station, the Fifth Avenue docks, and the Balboa Park fairgrounds.26

Requiring an executive secretary to direct fieldwork, the TAS-SD looked to New York City. Orin Baker was ineligible because he had recently committed to spending the year in San Francisco for the PPIE. Not wanting to neglect Southern California, Baker suggested his son, Horace, as a good candidate for the job.

For the better part of two years, Horace had been running the Travelers’ Aid Society of New York in his father’s absence. President Burnham enthusiastically accepted Baker’s recommendation and urged that Horace begin his official duties in February. His annual salary of $2,500 would be paid for through a generous donation by board member Ellen Browning Scripps.27

Horace Baker’s arrival was eagerly anticipated. The TAS-SD assembled a special greetings committee that would formally meet Baker and introduce him to the city’s prominent businessmen. The committee also planned a gala for late February at the Grant Hotel in honor of their new executive secretary.28

When he arrived in San Diego on February 10, 1915, Horace Baker issued a statement that praised the city as the “ideal location with the ideal conditions to establish a model travelers’ aid society.” With these opening words, Baker made it clear that the founding of the TAS-SD had national implications for it was to serve as a “model” that could be replicated in cities throughout the United States. He described the plan in place to combine all such societies into a national association during the summer of 1915. Concluding, he stressed that his stay in San Diego was not meant to be temporary; rather, he and his wife intended to make San Diego their “home.”29

According to The San Diego Union, the subsequent gala for Baker was a resounding success. Held at a ballroom in the Grant Hotel, it featured performances by the violinist Alice Devlin and the young fifteen-year-old pianist Edward Schlosberg who played Liszt’s “St. Francis Preaching to the Birds.” The festivities continued with an informal talk on travelers’ aid by the guest of honor followed by a lively social hour.30

Horace Baker wasted no time in getting acclimated to his new surroundings. He immediately launched an investigation of the city’s rail and steamship networks and studied traffic patterns in and out of San Diego. To ensure that he was “intelligently informed as to what visitors to our city need protection from,” he also examined San Diego’s leisure scene. In March 1915 he visited a variety  of cafés and rooming houses and found their moral conditions “most deplorable indeed.”31 The TAS-SD compiled a list of respectable hotels, rooming houses, and institutions that women could consult when making decisions about where to stay.32 Baker also quickly set up travelers’ aid training courses along the lines of those in New York. Social workers attended their first training in March and continued to train well into the spring, with four meetings held in May and five in June.33

Even before their training had begun, agents were on active duty at the city’s transportation hubs. In January, Ella Thomas took up her new position as the TAS-SD’s lead worker, assisting over two hundred travelers. When the workforce grew to four and coverage expanded to the docks, the total number of travelers helped increased to 618 in March and 978 in April. Summer was even busier, as more and more visitors poured into San Diego for the fair. The TAS-SD had its peak performance in July, with workers providing aid to 2,255 travelers. Altogether, 13,766 people received travelers’ aid during the exposition’s first year.34

Most travelers encountered the TAS-SD at the newly constructed Santa Fe Depot. The old Santa Fe station was demolished in early March and replaced by a much larger Spanish Colonial Revival style building. In the new depot, the TAS-SD occupied a furnished room that doubled as the field workers’ office and a rest room for travelers.35 Agents met hundreds of arriving and departing trains each month. In May, for example, they met 361 trains and provided social work to 504 rail passengers; in July, the TAS-SD’s busiest month, the numbers increased to 443 trains and 1,134 passengers.36

Among the July travelers was a “pretty, young, and attractive” girl named Eleanor Houson from Minneapolis, Minnesota, who came to San Diego to visit a friend. Together, they planned to tour the Balboa Park fairgrounds. Houson’s case provides a good example of the TAS-SD’s routine work at the Santa Fe Depot. When she arrived on July 14, Houson discovered that her friend, Mrs. Frederickson, was not there to meet her. Prepared for such a situation, she presented the Travelers’ Aid Society with Frederickson’s telephone number and address, hoping to get directions. The agent on duty, Mrs. R.A. Haskins, insisted on calling first to ensure that the friend was home. Mrs. Frederickson answered and was surprised to learn that Houson had arrived. After the phone call, the agent escorted Houson uptown to her friend’s address where the two women were safely reunited.37

A similar situation took place three days later when Anna Vance from New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, arrived at the depot in the early evening, expecting to meet relatives. No one was there to meet her and Vance wandered around the station for some time, unsure of how to proceed. Eventually she spotted TAS-SD agent Mary Penney and asked for help in locating her family. Agent Penney looked up a telephone number and made contact with Vance’s cousin, who was just about to leave for the exposition. He promptly swung by the depot, picked up Vance, and the two made their way to Balboa Park to meet the rest of the family. Penney in her notes called it “a most satisfactory case.”38

The TAS-SD encountered not only visitors but also workers and performers headed to the world’s fair. In August, lead agent Ella Thomas handled a case at the Santa Fe Depot involving a member of the Haydn Choral Society. Katherine Roberts, twenty-eight, was on her way to the exposition with her ensemble when she took ill with fainting spells immediately before boarding an early morning train from Los Angeles. Upon arrival in San Diego, the choral society’s physician notified the TAS-SD of the woman’s condition and inquired if there might be somewhere the singer could rest. Agent Thomas helped the woman up the stairs to the travelers’ aid rest room on the second floor. There, under Thomas’s care, Roberts dozed intermittently for the next six hours. When she was finally ready to leave the station, Roberts, a recent prize-winner at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, expressed confidence that she would be well enough to sing her solos and duets during the evening’s performance.39

Travelers classified as “runaways” were also frequent clients of the Travelers’ Aid Society. One of the most intriguing cases involved a nineteen-year-old girl named Frances Cooper who had been living with her mother in Los Angeles while trying to make it in Hollywood as a silent picture actress. She claimed to have briefly worked for Majestic Studios and to know the famous actors Wallace Cooper, Ruth Roland, and Mary Alden, the latter having starred in Birth of a Nation.40 Cooper and two friends left for San Diego on March 21, 1915. The mother of one of the girls, concerned about their wellbeing, contacted the local YWCA for help in locating them. The YWCA promptly handed the case over to the TAS-SD. Agent Mary Penney took charge and soon found Cooper and her friends at the Hotel Troy at 1055 Sixth Street, a location she described as “[morally] questionable.” Penney convinced Cooper to leave the hotel and stay instead at the YWCA.41 Over the next three days, the agent looked after Cooper whom she described as having “no money and little clothing [and] no special talents or desire for work.”42 Penney purchased clothing for her and then began a series of urgent telegrams to Los Angeles. She sent word to Cooper’s mother that her daughter had been found and was being cared for. She also sent telegrams to a probation officer, Mrs. Bradley, and a doctor named Harriet Probasco. It seems that Penney had grave concerns about the girl’s health. She implored Bradley to help “save this girl” and to make contact with Probasco, a doctor for juvenile facilities and an expert on venereal disease.43

When Frances Cooper returned to Los Angeles on March 25, she was promptly reunited with her mother. The records do not reveal if she saw Dr. Probasco and from what, if any, health issues she may have been suffering. It is clear, however, that Cooper was moved by the kindness shown to her by the TAS-SD for, over the next several months, she penned numerous letters to agent Penney and Executive Secretary Horace Baker. The initial letters are optimistic, but subsequent ones reveal an unemployed, down-on-her luck, and lonely young woman. After her mother was hospitalized in August, Cooper sadly wrote to Penney: “I am left alone.”44 While the TAS-SD may have removed Cooper from a dead-end and unhealthy situation in San Diego, it seemed to have returned her to a similarly frustrating situation in Los Angeles.

Another notable case involving a runaway occurred in the spring of 1915. Shortly after midnight on May 26, young Mabel Franzen lowered a homemade rope of towels and sheets out of her second story window and escaped to the Santa Fe Depot where she boarded an overnight train, the Owl, destined for Los Angeles.45 Franzen was determined to reunite with her boyfriend Llewellyn Carson whom her parents had forbidden her to see. Carson was the son of the notorious former San Diego mayor, William Carson, who was wanted on embezzlement charges. When her family realized that Franzen was missing, they immediately notified the authorities.46 Shortly before noon on the 26th, the family, a policeman, and Ella Thomas of the TAS-SD held a conference at the depot. Thomas pledged to keep a close eye on the station in case Franzen returned. When Thomas went off duty, she turned the case over to agents Penney and Minnie Moore.

In the early evening, Penney and Moore noticed a young woman alone in the station. The latter believed that the girl matched the description of Mabel Franzen provided by her mother, but the former disagreed. Penney approached the girl anyway and offered assistance, which the girl declined. Moore, however, refused to let the case drop. She began to trail the traveler throughout the station and eventually approached her. This time, the girl seemed amenable to assistance. She said that she lived in San Diego and could use help getting “all this baggage” onto a streetcar. Moore replied, “Why I’ll help you gladly.” Moore saw the girl onto the streetcar and, as it departed, wondered if there was anything else she could have done to ensure that the girl safely reached home.47

The next day The San Diego Union reported that Mabel Franzen had been reunited with her anxious family in the late afternoon on May 26. The paper explained that after reaching Los Angeles, Franzen had second thoughts and immediately decided to turn back.48  Moore was sure that this was the girl that she had encountered at the Santa Fe Depot. Both the newspaper and TAS records give a similar time of arrival, but one detail stands out: the traveler at the depot possessed a great deal of luggage while Franzen reportedly slid out of her window on a homemade rope. She likely traveled to L.A. with few possessions. Moore may have rushed to judgment in her desire to be part of such a “first-rate case.”49

TAS-SD was also present at the Balboa Park fairgrounds, though its work there was more contentious than at the depot or docks. In January 1915, it launched an investigation into the moral conditions of the fair’s Hawaiian Village, located along the Isthmus amusement street.50 Social workers most likely focused on the sexualized routines of the village’s native Hula dancers. They also expressed concerns over the exposition’s ‘49 Camp, which was intended to simulate the “lawless atmosphere” of an old California mining town. At the camp, guests could mingle with flirtatious ladies and gamble with fake money. Responding to such licentiousness, the TAS-SD joined with several other leading social  service  organizations in a successful protest that resulted in the arrest of the camp’s manager, S.A. Burnside, and the cessation of gambling.51 Exposition promoters resented the TAS-SD’s meddling with their popular and profitable amusement sites. Sensing the authorities’ “lukewarm attitude” toward the organization’s moral protective work, the TAS-SD ultimately decided to leave the exposition grounds, withdrawing its workers at the end of May.52

The Collapse of the Travelers’ Aid Society

The Travelers’ Aid Society had little time to dwell on its retreat from the exposition as it soon had to deal with a threat to its very existence. In the spring of 1915, board members’ interest in the organization began to wane. Several Executive Committee meetings in May, June, and July were either canceled or shortened because no quorum was present.53 In August, a prominent member, Eva Bird Bosworth, resigned. Her departure was followed by a startling announcement by Executive Secretary Horace Baker that the TAS-SD was running a deficit and, if the financial situation did not improve, he would be forced to fire two workers.54 To keep the organization afloat, Horace’s father Orin Baker sent an emergency donation of $180 with the understanding that board members would match this amount through fundraising of their own. The Board was able to raise $42 in September, but this was not enough to ease doubts about the TAS-SD’s future. The Executive Committee scheduled a meeting for October 19 at the Grant Hotel in order to discuss the pressing “financial situation and the question of the continuance of the Society.”55

At the emergency meeting Horace Baker presented a plan to save the society, which centered on cost-cutting measures. Two jobs would be eliminated in  addition to Baker’s own position as executive secretary. The Board approved the plan and decided in January 1916 to keep only Ella Thomas and Minnie Moore as members of the full-time staff. The Board also accepted Baker’s resignation “with feelings of deep regret.”56 Baker, too, must have felt disappointed given his high hopes of establishing a model Travelers’ Aid Society and making a permanent home for his family in San Diego.

There was no guarantee that these measures would work. Baker predicted that at least $1,800 would be needed for the remaining workers’ salaries and other miscellaneous expenses. Considering that twenty-four board members (out of thirty-six) had shown “no interest” at all in the society, securing this sum would not be easy.57 However, there was some reason to be optimistic about the upcoming year. The field work was in the hands of the very capable “senior worker” Ella Thomas and there would be two new board members: the local physician Dr. Charlotte Baker and the modern artist and clubwoman Alice Klauber, both of whom could infuse the society with much needed energy.58

The TAS-SD did manage to survive the second exposition year but financial difficulties continued to plague the organization. In October 1916, the leadership made the decision to shut down the Travelers’ Aid Society at the end of the year and hand back the work to the YWCA.59 Orin and Horace Baker’s goal of establishing a permanent and non-sectarian Travelers’ Aid Society in San Diego had failed. Yet not all was lost. The Bakers achieved their related goal of forming a National Travelers’ Aid Society in the spring of 1917 and, in San Francisco, Orin Baker’s TAS-CA continued to thrive.60 In what Horace had initially deemed a “friendly rivalry” between father and son “to establish and maintain the best Travelers’ Aid Societies of the world in San Diego and San Francisco,” the father emerged the winner.61


Travelers’ aid in San Diego remained under YWCA auspices until World War II. In 1941, a newly revived TAS-SD joined forces with the United Service Organizations (USO) to provide travelers’ aid to the young men arriving in San Diego to fulfill their military duties.62 All across the country, wherever there were defense centers, army camps, and naval bases, similar USO Travelers’ Aid Units emerged to assist not only the troops, but the women who followed them.63 In San Diego, USO Travelers’ Aid established an Information Center in a “spic- and-span cream-and-blue three room cottage” from which volunteers answered soldiers’ questions about their new community. The Information Center grew to include a housing office tasked with finding temporary lodging for mothers and their children as well as young single women who came to San Diego to be near their husbands or boyfriends.64 Lastly, USO Travelers’ Aid operated a Lounge for Troops-in-Transit that was run by ninety-two volunteers who, among other duties, distributed peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and coffee to soldiers heading off to, or returning from, war.65

Today, the Travelers’ Aid Society continues as a non-profit corporation in the city of San Diego. Its downtown headquarters are at 925 B Street and a second office for casework is located in the Saint Vincent De Paul Village on Imperial Avenue. Travelers’ aid volunteers can be found at the Santa Fe Depot, the Cruise Ship Terminal, and the San Diego International Airport where they assist “the confused, the elderly, the military, children traveling alone, and anyone who needs help, advice, directions, or reservations.”66 Reflecting a twenty-first century approach to social work, the TAS-SD’s mission has grown to include programs, such as counseling and relocation assistance, aimed at travelers confronted with homelessness and/or domestic abuse.67


  1. “Women Better Than Policemen For Protection of Young Women,” The San Diego Weekly Union, January 29, 1914, 4.
  2. On white slavery, see Brian Donovan, White Slave Crusades: Race, Gender, and Anti-Vice Activism, 1887-1917 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2006); Gretchen Soderlund, Sex Trafficking, Scandal, and the Transformation of Journalism, 1885-1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013); Ruth Rosen, The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution in America, 1900-1918 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982).
  3. “Women Better Than Policemen,” 4.
  4. On women and the city, see Joanne Meyerowitz, Women Adrift: Independent Wage Earners in Chicago, 1880-1930 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1988); Nina Mjagkij and Margaret Spratt, eds., Men and Women Adrift: The YMCA and YWCA in the City (New York: NYU Press, 1997); Kathy Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986).
  5. Eric Cimino, “On the ‘Border Line of Tragedy’: White Slavery, Moral Protection, and the Travelers’ Aid Society of New York, 1885-1917” (Ph.D. , Stony Brook University, 2012), 35-43, online at (accessed July 26, 2015).
  6. For more on women’s presence at the world’s fairs, see J. Boisseau and Abigail Markwyn, eds., Gendering the Fair: Histories of Women and Gender at the World’s Fairs (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2010).
  7. Elizabeth Wilson, Fifty Years of Association Work among Young Women, 1866-1916: A History of Young Women’s Christian Associations in the United States of America (New York: National Board of the YWCA, 1916), 199-201. On the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, see James Gilbert, Whose Fair?: Experience, Memory, and the History of the Great St. Louis Exposition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).
  8. “Fund to Fight Vice,” New-York Tribune, April 22, 1904, For and About Women Section,
  9. Wilson, Fifty Years of Association Work, 201; “Work of the Trained Train-Meeter,” New York Times, July 3, 1904, Sunday Magazine Section, 8.
  10. Wilson, Fifty Years of Association Work, 202; Bertha McCall, History of the National Travelers Aid Association, 1911-1948 ([New York]: [National Travelers Aid Association], 1950), 2; “Traveler’s Aid at Jamestown,” Charities 18, 10 (June 8, 1907), 291; Travelers’ Aid Society of New York, Annual Report, 1908, 4.
  11. Anna Pratt Simpson, Problems Women Solved: Being the Story of the Woman’s Board of the Panama- Pacific International Exposition (San Francisco: The Woman’s Board, 1915), 64-65, 69-71; Frank Morton Todd, The Story of the Exposition: Being the Official History of the Celebration Held at San Francisco in 1915 to Commemorate the Discovery of the Pacific Ocean and the Construction of the Panama Canal, 5 (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1921), 122. For a recent account of the Woman’s Board’s moral protective work, see Abigail Markwyn, “Encountering ‘Woman’ on the Fairgrounds of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition,” in Gendering the Fair, 172.
  12. Simpson, Problems Women Solved, 72; Travelers’ Aid Committee (San Francisco), Minutes, October 21, 1913, in Box 1, Folder 1, Travelers’ Aid Society of San Francisco Records (SFH 18), San Francisco History Center.
  13. Cimino, “On the Border Line of Tragedy,” 137-39, 149-51. The Travelers’ Aid Society of New York was founded in 1907 by Grace Hoadley Dodge who had earlier chaired the YWCA’s Travelers’ Aid Committee for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.
  14. Travelers’ Aid Committee (San Francisco), Minutes, October 31,1913.
  15. On non-sectarianism and the Travelers’ Aid Society of New York, see Cimino, “On the Border Line of Tragedy,” 51-52, 54, 60, 64-65; Cimino, “The Travelers’ Aid Society: Moral Reform and Social Work in New York City, 1907-1916” (forthcoming in New York History).
  16. Simpson, Problems Women Solved, 71-72; Anna Nicholson, “Travelers’ Aid Society,” The Western Journal of Education 20, no. 9 (September 1914), 7; TAS-California Board of Directors, Minutes, April 9, 1914, in Box 1, Folder 1, Travelers’ Aid Society of San Francisco For a summary of the TAS-California’s work during the PPIE, see Cimino, “On the Border Line of Tragedy,” 144-49.
  17. On the Panama-California Exposition, see Matthew Bokovoy, The San Diego World’s Fairs and Southwestern Memory, 1880-1940 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005).
  18. “Travelers’ Aid Society Planned in San Diego,” The San Diego Union, January 23, 1914, Section 2, 12; “Protection Urged For Girl Visitors to City,” The San Diego Union, January 26, 1914, 2; “Women Better Than Policemen,” 4.
  19. “Safety for Girls Planned by Women,” The San Diego Union, October 10, 1914, Section 2, 1; “Society Organized to Protect Fair Visitors,” The San Diego Union, October 16, 1914, Section 2, 1; “Yesterday in San Diego Churches,” The San Diego Union, October 19, 1914, 7.
  20. Edith Shatto King and Frederick King, Pathfinder Social Survey of San Diego: Report of Limited Investigations of Social Conditions in San Diego, California (San Diego: Labor Temple Press, 1914).
  21. Travelers’ Aid Committee, Minutes, October 15, 1914, in Box 6, Folder 4, Travelers’ Aid Society of San Diego Records, Special Collections and University Archives, San Diego State University [hereafter, TAS-SD Records]; “Society Organized to Protect Fair Visitors,” 1.
  22. In December, another prominent organization geared toward women, the Woman’s Board of the Panama-California Exposition, held its first meeting. Molly McClain, “A Room of Their Own: Women’s Contribution to the Panama-California Exposition, 1915,” The Journal of San Diego History 61, 1 (Winter 2015): 253-78.
  23. “Visitors Safety Society’s Purpose,” The San Diego Union, December 14, 1914, 3.
  24. TAS-SD Board of Directors, Minutes, December 23, 1914, in Box 6, Folder 4, TAS-SD Records [all of the Board and Executive Committee minutes below are from Box 6, Folder 4]. See also Thomas O’Hallaran, “First Annual Report,” 1916, in Box 6, Folder 4, TAS-SD Records; “Travelers’ Aid Society Holds Review of Work, The San Diego Union, October 25, 1916, 10.
  25. Her salary was $75 a month. TAS-SD Executive Committee, Minutes, January 12, 1915; “Aid Society Work Will Benefit Travelers,” The San Diego Union, January 13, 1915, Section 2, 1.
  26. TAS-SD Executive Committee, Minutes, March 16, 1915; “Travelers’ Aid Agents Meet Ships and Trains,” The San Diego Union, March 3, 1915, 5; TAS-SD, Annual Report, 1915, 5. The San Diego Union reported that in addition to the travelers’ aid agents, undercover “sleuths” recruited by the Pinkerton Detective Agency would also be surveying the city and exposition grounds. “Pinkerton Warns Criminals,” The San Diego Weekly Union, December 17, 1914, 3.
  27. TAS-SD Board of Directors, Minutes, January 26, 1915; Travelers’ Aid Society of New York, Annual Report, 1914, 22; TAS-SD, Annual Report, 1915, 2; “Travelers’ Aid Society Secures Secretary,” The San Diego Union, January 22, 1915, In a letter to her brother, Scripps explained the appeal that travelers’ aid held for her, expressing support for its “underlying intent—to save the honest, instead of trying to restore the criminal; especially at this time and in San Diego to prevent the exploitation of innocent girls.” Ellen Browning Scripps to E. W. Scripps, Feb. 21, 1915. Thank you to Molly McClain for sharing this letter with me.
  28. “Many Travelers Aided by Society,” The San Diego Union, February 3, 1915, 7.
  29. “Aid to Travelers Secretary Comes,” The San Diego Union, February 11, 1915, 4; TAS-SD Board of Directors, Minutes, February 2,
  30. Schlossberg “astonished his hearers with his unusual technique and remarkable interpretation of the difficult number.” “In Society,” The San Diego Union, February 24, 1915,
  31. TAS-SD Executive Committee, Minutes, February 25, March 16, April 6, Baker shared his report on moral conditions with San Diego’s Committee of Nineteen on the Suppression  of Vice, which he believed was in a better position than the TAS to remedy poor restaurant and housing conditions.
  32. TAS-SD, Annual Report, 1915, 4; “Visitors Safety Society’s Purpose,” 3.
  33. “Young Girls Helped by Travelers’ Aid Corps,” The San Diego Union, April 8, 1915, 3; Horace Baker, Executive Secretary Reports (typed), May and June 1915, in Box 2, Folder 20, TAS-SD
  34. TAS-SD, Annual Report, 1915, 5. A record 301,937 people attended the Panama-California Exposition in In the preceding months, the number of visitors had ranged from 130,000 to 180,000. Richard Amero, Balboa Park History, Chapter 5, online at http://balboaparkhistory. net/ (accessed June 16, 2015).
  35. TAS-SD, Annual Report, 1915, 5; “Young Girls Helped by Travelers’ Aid Corps,” 3; TAS-SD Executive Committee, Minutes, March 16,
  36. Horace Baker, Executive Secretary Reports (typed), May-July The monthly totals for the Santa Fe Depot reflect only the number of cases in which agents completed detailed reports. It excludes hundreds of instances in which “incidental” help was given.
  37. R. A. Hoskins, Station Report, July 14, 1915, Box 2, Folder 30, TAS-SD Records.
  38. Mary Penney, Station Report, July 17, 1915, Box 2, Folder 30, TAS-SD
  39. Ella Thomas, Station Report, August 3, 1915, Box 2, Folder 30, TAS-SD
  40. Frances Cooper employment application, March 24, 1915, Box 2, Folder 30, TAS-SD
  41. Mary Penney, Station Report, March 21, 1915; Grace Adams to YWCA, March 22, 1915, Box 2, Folder 30, TAS-SD
  42. Mary Penney, Station Report, March 21, 1915, Box 2, Folder 30, TAS-SD Records.
  43. Mary Penney to Mrs. Bradley, 1915; Penney to Dr. Probasco, 1915, Box 2, Folder 30, TAS-SD Records. On Probasco, see “Medical News: California,” The Journal of the American Medical Association 64, no. 9 (February 27, 1915), 750; “Editorial Notes,” Southern California Practitioner 33, no. 2 (February 1918), 23.
  44. Cooper to Penney, August 11, 1915, Box 2, Folder 30, TAS-SD Records.
  45. In addition to being an escape artist, Franzen was well known in San Diego for her record- setting swimming “Runaway Girl Returns Home,” San Diego Weekly Union, May 27, 1915, 2.
  46. Ibid.
  47. Minnie Moore, Station Report, May 26, 1915, Box 2, Folder 30, TAS-SD Moore’s doubts provide a window into the training that travelers’ aid workers received. In her report, Moore wonders if she should have been more forceful with the girl and insisted on accompanying her home. Or perhaps she should have followed the girl in secret? According to Moore, both of these choices would have violated her training, which taught her “not to force our service on anyone, and not to play detective.” Her report concludes with the single line, “What should I have done?”
  48. “Runaway Girl Returns Home,” 2.
  49. Moore, Station Report, May 26, 1915, Box 2, Folder 30, TAS-SD
  50. TAS-SD Board of Directors, Minutes, January 26, Records.
  51. Amero, Balboa Park, Chapter 4; McClain, “A Room of Their Own,” 266-67; Horace Baker, Executive Secretary Report (handwritten), June 1915, in Box 2, Folder 20, TAS-SD Records.
  52. Baker, Executive Secretary Report (handwritten), June The decision to leave the fairgrounds was made easier by the fact that the worker had only assisted eight people in the prior month. Baker, Executive Secretary Report (typed), May 1915.
  53. TAS-SD Executive Committee, Minutes, June 1, July 6, 1915.
  54. TAS-SD Executive Committee, Minutes, August 4, August 27, 1915.
  55. TAS-SD Executive Committee, Minutes, September 23, October 5, 1915
  56. TAS-SD Executive Committee, Minutes, October 19, 1915; Executive Committee, Minutes, January 4, 1916; TAS-SD Board of Directors, Minutes, January 20, Baker’s resignation was also announced in The San Diego Union. See “Club Notes,” The San Diego Union, February 6, 1916, 3.
  57. TAS-SD Executive Committee, Minutes, September 8, 1915; Executive Committee, Minutes, January 4, 1916.
  58. Dr. Baker (no relation to Horace or Orin) was also a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Klauber was the chair of the Woman’s Board’s Art Committee and a “minor public celebrity” at the Panama-California Exposition. McClain, “A Room of Their Own,” 255, 258, 261, 264, 267-68.
  59. TAS-SD Board of Directors, Minutes, October 24, 1916; “Travelers’ Aid Society Holds Review of Work,” The San Diego Union, October 25, 1916, 10; “Y.W.C.A. to Take Over Work of Travelers’ Aid,” The San Diego Union, January 4, 1917, 6.
  60. Cimino, “On the Border Line of Tragedy,” 152-54.
  61. “Aid to Travelers Secretary Comes,” 4.
  62. McCall, History of National Travelers Aid, 155, 256; “Amended By-Laws of the Travelers’ Aid Society of San Diego,” September 12, 1941, 1, 12 in Box 6, Folder 11, TAS-SD Records; Edwina Hegland and Sheridan Hegland, USO, “The Heart of San Diego”: A History of USO in San Diego City and County, 1941-1946 (San Diego: San Diego USO Council, 1946), 7-8.
  63. USO Travelers’ Aid Units were established in Vallejo, California, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Ayers, Massachusetts for example. McCall, History of National Travelers Aid, 148-55, 164.
  64. Hegland and Hegland, USO, “The Heart of San Diego,” 10-11, 51.
  65. Ibid, 19, 25, 51. The Heglands note that this volunteer force was biracial, composed of both black and white women.
  66. “Volunteer Ambassador Program,” from (accessed August 18, 2015).
  67. “Our Story,” from (accessed August 18, 2015).

Eric Cimino is an Assistant Professor of History and Political Science at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, New York. He has written on the travelers’ aid movement for his dissertation, “On the Border Line of Tragedy” (Stony Brook University, 2012), and for an article in the journal New York History (forthcoming). He lives in Jackson Heights, a neighborhood in Queens. He thanks Molly McClain for her request to write this article and for all her subsequent help developing it.   In addition, he acknowledges the department of Special Collections and University Archives at  San Diego State University, particularly Amanda Lanthorne, for providing digital copies of the TAS-SD records.