University of Arizona

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Emile Cyrus Houle Collection

Children Playing with a Train Set

Emile Cyrus Houle (1881-1966) graduated, M. D., from the University of Michigan in 1904. Houle became the Assistant Surgeon of the Sud Pacifico (S. P.) de Mexico Railroad Company on the west coast of Mexico in 1907 where he worked under George Emory Goodfellow, M. D. Over the next 10 years, Houle advanced from Assistant Surgeon to Chief Surgeon of the S. P. de Mexico Railroad Company before enlisting in the U. S. A. Medical Corps in 1917 for the WWI war effort. His military service included service in the 1st Battalion 20th Engineers, Dax, France and the Surgeon Camp, Dax, France, and a commission to Major, M. C., before discharge after 13 months of service in 1919. After his military service, Houle returned as Chief Surgeon of the S. P. de Mexico Railroad Company.  During his medical career, Houle contributed to and wrote a number of published research articles on a variety of topics, including yellow fever on the Mexican west coast from 1921-1925, and is credited with aiding in the eradication of malaria in Sonora, Mexico.

Apart from his medical career, Houle was also an amateur archaeologist, his excavations having resulted in a collection of pre-Columbian statues which have since been donated to a state museum, many photographs documenting his finds, and a written narrative of his travels. His time with the S. P. de Mexico Railroad Company also offered Houle a unique perspective of the Mexican Revolution as it proceeded in Empalme, Sonora Mexico. This perspective is reflected in research gathered in conjunction with the superintendent of the railway and friend, Victor W. Bennett.

Photographs, scrapbooks, and printed materials, 1896-2010 (bulk 1910-1927). This collection is comprised of photo albums, scrapbooks, loose photographs, and printed materials documenting the life and travels of Emile Cyrus Houle. The bulk of the material relates to his medical career and archaeological excavations undertaken in Mexico and the American southwest. Working as a surgeon for the S. P. de Mexico Railroad Company on the west coast of Mexico from 1907-1920’s, Houle was present for events related to the Mexican Revolution, which are documented in photographs, journal entries, and research printed materials in the collection. Well represented events include the Banquet Massacre of Yaqui Chiefs and the Imuris Incident. His medical career also included 13 months of service in the U.S.A. Medical Corps in France during WWI from 1917-1919 with promotion to Major, M. C., U.S.A, which is documented primarily in correspondences, journal entries, and other documents.

Houle’s time in Mexico and the American southwest also allowed for a career as an amateur archaeologist with excavations in Ixtlán del Río, Mazatlán, and Tepic, Mexico, and Nogales and Tuba City, AZ, among other locations. These archaeological excavations are greatly represented in two scrapbooks and loose items of mainly photographic material depicting sculpture figurines and rock art. The two scrapbooks include copies of a potential future publication documenting Houle archaeological career, with the inclusion of notes, rough drafts, and final versions of a five chapter personal narrative describing it. The narrative can be found in the printed materials. Apart from his professional careers, his personal life is represented in early photographs starting from 1902 and correspondences and photographs from later in life mainly during the 1950s and 1960s.