Gertrude Fitzgerald was born April 1, 1876 in Fulton, Illinois to Ebenezer Baird and Sue Mussina. In 1896 she married Benjamin Fitzgerald, an engineer. His job led the family to various locations in Latin America, especially in Mexico. The Fitzgerald family lived most of the time in the small mountain community of Madera, Chihuahua, an important part of the Pearson Company’s industrial empire. Gertrude Fitzgerald became interested in photography while living in Madera, and some of her photographs were used by the Pearson Company to make postcards to show prospective employees that they would be living in comfortable modern conditions. After the beginning of the revolution in 1910, Gertrude and the children, Nellie and Gerald, became refugees from the turmoil. They finally left Mexico in 1915 and moved to El Paso, Texas, where the status of the family soon changed. Benjamin Fitzgerald could not find work in the area and left to work for his father in Louisiana. Because of health problems Gertrude stayed in El Paso. The couple separated permanently in 1916. Gertrude found no market for her photography, but continued taking pictures. In El Paso she worked in retail businesses including the Popular Dry Goods Company and the White House. Gertrude Fitzgerald died on September 26, 1956 in El Paso, Texas.
The Gertrude Fitzgerald photographs images consist primarily of photographs taken by Gertrude Fitzgerald of her family life and people and places related to the travel and work of her husband. These photographs consist of images of Madera, Chihuahua, including photographs of workers in the Pearson Lumber Company near Madera; photographs of Federal troops preparing for or returning from military actions in the Mexican Revolution (about 1910); images of Mexico City, mostly Chapultepec or the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe; and landscapes and ruins near Casas Grandes in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Other images show scenes from the El Paso, Texas area, including local landmarks and military life at Fort Bliss, as well as some photographs of Mesilla, New Mexico. Photographs in the collection that were not taken by Gertrude Fitzgerald include scenes of the Hurley and Santa Rita mines in New Mexico and panoramic shots of Mexican revolutionaries. The collection also contains ephemeral material and a large collection of postcards of El Paso, Texas. The physical makeup of the collection consists mainly of large format negatives and four glass plates along with original photographs.