1Like many first monographs, this book began its life as a PhD dissertation. The road to that dissertation was a very long one—a story I will not bore the reader with here—but I would like to gratefully acknowledge the help I received along the way. Academics normally cite the contributions of family members at the end of their acknowledgments but I must break tradition here. No one deserves my gratitude more than my husband Daniel Fields. His encouragement, sense of pride in my work, and most importantly, unfailing humor kept me moving forward on many difficult days. The content of this book was also greatly enhanced by the many discussions we had about medicine on our evening walks; it was so handy having my own in-house medical resource! Our daughter Rachel—who, growing up, probably thought at one point that all mommies were writing dissertations—added a much-needed balance to my perspective by continually drawing me away from the computer and back to real life.

2Almost all my academic training has taken place at UC Davis and I have had many excellent teachers and mentors there throughout the years. Particular thanks go to my dissertation committee members, Arnie Bauer, Chuck Walker, and Andrés Reséndez, for their kind comments and helpful suggestions regarding my work. Arnie, especially, has been an important inspiration in my intellectual journey. My fascination with the history of everyday life was fired by our many discussions, over cappuccinos, about the material culture of life long ago. My stint in graduate school, particularly the dissertation-writing period, was also brightened considerably by the steadfast optimism of my comrade-in-arms Rosamaria Tanghetti.

3I am indebted as well to those individuals who graciously assisted me in countless ways, large and small, with this research. It was Edith Boorstein Couturier who first told me, via an email, about the letters of the Condesa de Miravalle that are housed in the Archivo Manuel Romero de Terreros in Pachuca, Mexico. Belem Oviedo, the director of that archive, made my week-long stay there a productive one. Both Robert McCaa and Paula DeVos generously shared primary sources from their own work. Max and Rosa Shein provided me with useful connections in Mexico City in addition to serving me a lovely lunch. I am also particularly grateful to those individuals and institutions in Mexico that have allowed me to reproduce images from their private collections in this work. Thanks to UC Mexus for the funding, in the form of a Dissertation Research Grant, that launched this project. And lastly, my gratitude goes to the talented people at the Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC) for transforming my work into its present form as an e-book.