“We had a bullock on the front veranda today. He had gotten lost – also, he had diarrhea. That’s all for now. Love from all of us, Anita”
(New Delhi, June 10, 1962)
In 1961, the Udell family — Gene (father), Anita (mother), Jon (son – age 4), and Ruth (daughter – age 3) — left suburban Philadelphia for New Delhi, where they lived for 15 months.
At the time, Gene was the director of the Audio Visual Center at Temple University. He was assigned through Columbia Teachers College and USAID to work with the National Institute for Audio Visual Education in India. Anita was also a college professor, taking time off from her career to raise Jon and Ruth.
During their stay in India, Gene and Anita wrote over 300 pages of letters back home, describing in incredible detail everything from politics, economics, culture, and workplace customs, to the day-to-day activities of setting up a household and raising two small children. They kept carbon copies (the real ones!) of every letter, which is why this wonderful archive exists today.
Gene also took over 1,500 slides.
It was a fascinating period in India’s history — the Republic was only 14 years old, and the Cold War was in full force, with India considered a key “prize” for either side. John Kenneth Galbraith was ambassador, Nehru was Prime Minister, and Jackie Kennedy paid a highly publicized visit. All of these themes and figures appear in the letters and photos that follow, along with much more.
We invite you to relive our journey to India, and experience a brilliantly detailed snapshot of life in India in 1961-62.
Jon Udell and Ruth Udell Kunstadter