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date: 22 April 2024

Digital Resources: Getty Research Institute Digital Exhibitions and Portals for Mexicofree

Digital Resources: Getty Research Institute Digital Exhibitions and Portals for Mexicofree

  • Jonathan SaxonJonathan SaxonDepartment of History, Antelope Valley College


The Getty Research Institute (GRI) has an extensive collection of online digital resources, with two portals that focus on Mexico. The first portal discussed in this article is A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico, and the second portal discussed is Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Mexican Art and Archaeology. These portals are the online versions of GRI exhibitions. Viewers of A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico will find numerous primary sources, mostly photographs, related to major historical events from 1857 to 1923. This will serve as a useful resource for scholars and students interested in photohistory. The online exhibition Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Mexican Art and Archaeology offers a wealth of online digitized images related to Aztec art, culture, and archaeology.

Although A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico contains superb resources, the site is difficult to navigate and can result in viewers missing much of what it offers. Therefore, this article provides a road map of sorts with the goal of helping scholars and students save valuable time during the research process. This guide will greatly streamline the user experience for those navigating A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico. In fact, readers may want to consider having access to this article while they are navigating the particular portal.

On the other hand, viewers will find Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Mexican Art and Archaeology much easier to navigate. As such, a general overview, rather than a detailed guide is provided for this portal to allow users to direct their research with efficiency and accuracy when navigating the site.

The article concludes with a brief discussion in the “Digitized Resources” section, of the literature, methodology, and historiography of photohistory.


  • History of Mexico
  • Cultural History
  • Digital Innovations, Sources, and Interdisciplinary Approaches

Origin of the Getty Research Portal

Figure 1. William Henry Jackson. Market in Aguascalientes, Mexico, about 1880, Albumen silver print 43.3 x 54 cm (17 1/16 x 21 1/4 in.).

Courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. 85.XM.397.2.

Although this article focuses on A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico, and Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Mexican Art and Archaeology, the Getty Research Portal offers a monumental amount of resources for scholars and students. The Getty Research Institute defines the Getty Research Portal as “an online search platform providing global access to digitized art history texts (Figure 1). Through this multilingual, multicultural union catalog, scholars can search and download complete digital copies of publications for the study of art, architecture, material culture, and related fields. The Portal is free to all users.” Scholars will find this site extraordinarily useful for acquiring primary sources such as photographs, maps, paintings, and rare books. In many cases, entire books have been digitized and are available to view and download. As of October 2015, the Getty Research Portal lists a holding of 80,679 titles. As stated on its homepage, “The Getty Research Portal has the potential to revolutionize how art historians conduct research by widening the availability of rare books, early foundational literature, and important periodicals from libraries across the world. It will especially benefit students and scholars without access to a major art history library.” For additional information, see the Getty Research Portal. All images provided in this article are acceptable for publication through the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Operators, Supporters, and Funding

The Getty Research Institute (GRI) developed the system architecture for the Getty Research Portal. GRI funds and hosts the site, receives and processes new contributions, and provides project administration. Contributing institutions provide catalog records and staff time for preparing contributions.

Structure and Organization of the Getty Portal

A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico

The web portal A Nation Emerges:65 Years of Photography in Mexico features information for the history of Mexico documented through photography. The “Introduction” states: “There are, in a sense, two histories here, a history of Mexico and another of photography: two histories that interact and reflect upon one another.”1 The Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico portal has eight sections: “Photographers,” “Chronology,” “Bibliography,” “Glossary,” “Related Holdings,” “Credits,” “En Español,” and “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution.” The last section, “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution,” provides some six hundred digitized images, mostly photographs taken between 1857 and 1923, from the GRI’s vast holdings. All the sections mentioned above are listed as tabs on the left-hand side of the home page. The portal’s title, A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico, should not to be confused with the Getty Research Institute’s 2010–2011 exhibition “A Nation Emerges: The Mexican Revolution Revealed.”2 Many images were used in both the exhibition and in the section Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico portal. In many ways, “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution” is the heart of the Sixty-five Years of Photography.

At first glance, the GRI’s Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico appears a bit confusing because it does not provide viewers with instructions for effective navigation of the website and it has been not updated since 2010. Nevertheless, the portal contains valuable information including a brief series of maps.

One great benefit of this portal is the related citation information displayed along with the images. Anyone interested in downloading an image for use in a paper will have easy access to the necessary citation information. Users interested in using images for commercial publications should view the J. Paul Getty Trust’s “Terms of Use/Copyright” web page.3

Many elements need to be modified or updated. Most of the contact information provided on the pages within Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico is not current. Therefore, individuals interested in learning more about the contents of the web pages discussed in this essay should contact the GRI’s current cataloger (as of 2016), Beth Ann Guynn at Nevertheless, A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico, and especially the portal “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution,” have an enormous number of excellent resources, information, and images provided.

The portals mentioned above display images of indigenous landmarks, the French invasion of Mexico, the Porfiriato, and the Mexican Revolution. In addition, the images displayed address specific themes related to each of the above historical periods. For example, the “From Empire to Revolution” portal includes sections titled “Preservation and Tourism,” “Daily Life,” and “Decena Trágica.” The summaries in these sections provide background information regarding the displayed images.


The home page of A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico serves as the “Introduction” and offers a brief essay on the history of photography in Mexico. This includes a discussion of photographer François Aubert and his documentation of the 1860s French occupation of Mexico, with images of Archduke Maximilian and his wife, French soldiers, and Aztec ruins. The introduction also serves as an example of how photography and historiography intersect and form what John Mraz calls “photohistory.”4


The first tab listed on the left side of the web page,“Photographers” states that the photographs represent the works of thirty photographers—although, according to my count there are thirty-five listed in the section. The website does not make clear if all of these photographers are included in this online exhibition, or if the list is simply to highlight the variety of photographers known to have published images in the sixty-five years covered in the exhibition. This section provides descriptions, varying in length from a few sentences to complete paragraphs, on the photographers.


The “Chronology” section lists significant events from 1810 to 1923. Many images in the online exhibition were taken during major events. For example, the exhibition has photographs from the 1860s of President Benito Juárez, as well as Archduke Maximilian and his wife Carlota, when they were crowned Emperor and Empress of Mexico by Napoleon III, in 1864. Photographs document the French invasion with images of French troops and damaged buildings.

The “Chronology” lists events by date and provides a brief description of each. This section should be treated as a simple guide. For example, the first event is the beginning of the independence movement in 1810, when Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla issued the “Grito de Dolores” (the Cry of Independence) on September 16, 1810. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla is misspelled. On the website his name reads “Castilla” instead of “Costilla.”


The third section is the “Bibliography” section and lists twenty-five books with topics ranging from Pre-Columbian art to the history of photography (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Désiré Charnay, [Governor’s Palace (Uxmal, Mexico): facade]. 1882. Gelatin developing out paper (d.o.p.).

Courtesy of Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. 94-F125.

The publications by French photographer Désiré Charnay are of particular interest. Three are listed in the bibliography with links to GRI digitized versions to two of them: Ancient Cities of the New World5 (Figure 3) and Cités et ruines américaines, Mitla, Palenqué, Izamal, Chichen-Itza, Uxmal; recueillies et photographiées par Désiré Charnay; avec un texte par M. Viollet-le-Duc … suivi du voyage et des documents de l’auteur have links.6 The digitized texts have “page flip technology,” giving the look of turning the pages of a real book. Features also include a one-page view, two-page view, thumbnail view, and zoom-in and zoom-out options. Furthermore, viewers are granted permission to download the text. Twelve different download options are available, including PDF and Kindle.

The website has not been updated since 2010, and this section does not include more recent publications. See the bibliography of this essay for more recent texts.

Figure 3. Désiré Charnay, [Nunnery Complex (Uxmal, Mexico): detail of facade frieze]. 1882. Gelatin developing out paper (d.o.p.). Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. 94-F125.


The Glossary lists terms and definitions of significant events and individuals as well as technical terms related to early photography. Viewers interested in the basics of the various types of photographic prints (i.e., albumen, cabinet card, collodion, etc.) will find this section helpful. Although the definitions for each term are brief, viewers will be able to gather enough information to serve as a guide for further research elsewhere. In addition, viewers will be able to develop an elementary understanding of the various types of prints in the online exhibition.

Related Holdings of the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute

The “Related Holdings” section informs viewers, “In addition to the photographic holdings presented in this guide, the Research Institute provides numerous other resources for studying the history and culture of Mexico.”7 Viewers should be aware that none of the listed holdings in this section have been digitized for online viewing. Nevertheless, for researchers interested in visiting the Getty Research Institute, accession numbers and a direct link to a detailed listing of each item are provided. The items are available by appointment and can be reserved for viewing in the GRI’s Special Collections Room. Those who are interested may contact the GRI Library for information about visiting the Special Collections Room.8


The “Credits” section has not been modified since early 2010. Only one contact link is provided. However, as of 2016, Teresa Soleau9 is the GRI’s Digital Library Specialist and may be contacted for assistance if viewers encounter problems with the resources discussed in this essay.

En Español

The entire portal has been translated into Spanish except for the section with images, “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution.”

Link to “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution”

The final section is a link to the online exhibition, “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution.” Understanding the difference between “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution” and A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico can be confusing. Essentially, “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution” is “a Web resource that draws upon the collection of the Getty Research Institute and extends the two-part exhibition held at the Institute between October 2000 and May 2001.”10 Although this section is listed as an extension of the A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico portal, it may be more easily understood if one approaches this section as something altogether different from the sections discussed above. All the above sections have information with links to additional sources. “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution” has five tabs on the left side of the page—“Introduction,” “History,” “Photographers,” “Maps,” and “Chronology.” Furthermore, when exploring the content of each of these tabs, viewers will find additional tabs on each page directing the viewer to more information. Essentially, “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution” is an extensive online exhibition containing a vast array of photographs taken between 1857 and 1923, as well as maps and didactics.

Mexico: From Empire to Revolution

Visitors to “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution,” are given the option of entering through an HTML version, or through a version that requires an Adobe Flash Player plug-in. For ease of navigation, consider entering through the HTML site. This essay is based on the HTML version, where the layout is more intuitive. Users may come across problems using the Flash version (especially Mac users). The content of the HTML and Flash version is essentially the same. The Flash version does have a few conveniences such as a zoom function and the ability to scroll over an image for its related citation information. However, reading the text in the Flash version can be difficult because of the automated scroll function. Users cannot control the speed as the text scrolls upward. It also important to know that the Flash version has not been modified since 2010. This may be problematic for those with the most up to date Flash software. Furthermore, there is greater potential for content to be overlooked within the Flash version. For example, when scrolling through the text of one of the tabs in the “History” section, viewers will not know that additional images are available unless one scrolls to the end of the section, where small gray boxes indicate that additional images are available. This problem does not exist when using the HTML version. Overall, the content is wide-ranging and informative.


The “Introduction” tab is made up of five paragraphs. Unlike the other tabs, the “Introduction” does not provide additional tabs for further exploration. The only additional resource in this section is a link to a slow moving animated slide show of the images found within the website. The plug-in for the slide show is quite old and would benefit from an update. Viewers will be best served by reading the text of the “Introduction” and then moving on to the next tab.


The “History” section is divided into two sections. One section is titled “Empire & Nation,” and the other section is titled “Revolution.”

Empire and Nation. This section has ten individual tabs with a great deal of information. Each tab has its own tabs to navigate through. Therefore, there are multiple links to follow. Consider following the instructions below to avoid overlooking the vast resources available in this section.

Each tab provides images and related didactic information. General information about major events in Mexican history related to the images displayed is also provided. Additionally, links to terms and key figures of Mexican history are provided. Each tab covers a specific era in Mexican history. For the most part, each of these tabs is in chronological order. However, images of Mexico’s ancient ruins are placed in the middle tabs because they reflect the period of the French invasion, when these ruins were photographed. In other words, items appear in the order in which they were photographed.

The titles of the ten sections of “Empire and Nation” are as follows:


Legacy of Empires


French Intervention and New Empire


Death of an Empire


Ruins of the Pre-Hispanic Empire


Construction of a Nation


Returning to the Ruins of Empire


The New Order


Preservation and Tourism


Daily Life


A Nation Undone

Revolution. The “Revolution” section has a considerable number of images with a total of sixteen tabs. Similar to the “Empire and Nation” section, the tabs within the “Revolution” section have several tabs of their own, which lead viewers to further explore multiple perspectives of the Revolution. A significant benefit of this section is the way it highlights the many factions of the Mexican Revolution. Students will find this useful in understanding the chronology, as well as the major players of the revolution.

The titles of the sixteen sections of the “Revolution” section are as follows:


The Revolution Unfolds (1910/1911)


The End of the Porfiriato: Ciudad Juárez (1911)


Madero’s Return (1911)


Disillusionment (1912)


Decena Trágica


Unity Against Huerta (1913)


Catalyst for Revolt


Villa’s Forces (1914)


The U.S. Invasion of Veracruz (April 1914)


Battle of Zacatecas (June 1914)


The Revolutionaries Realign and Split


Zapata’s Resistance


Making Deals (1914/15)


Border Battles: Agua Prieta (November 1915)


Villa’s Stand Against the Americans (1916)


End of the Revolution


Anyone interested in the photographers for most of the images in this online exhibition will find this section very helpful. Similar to the “Photographers” tab in the A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico portal, this section profiles thirty-five photographers. Photographers are listed in alphabetical order by last name. A brief description and a work sample is listed next to each photographer’s name.

Another useful tool for students is a section dedicated to “Unidentified/Anonymous” photographers. An explanation of this tab states, “Some images in this Web site [sic] remain uncredited, and other images are given only the initials or last names of their photographer.”11

This section can serve as a teaching tool regarding the vast amount of photojournalists that flocked to the Mexican Revolution. Information is available about well-known photographers such as Agustín Victor Casasola, Hugo Brehme, Charles Burlingame Waite, and Walter Horne. On the other hand, the GRI has many images by two photographers who are not mentioned in the “Photographers” section—Otis A. Aultman and Robert Runyon. Both are well known for photographing events related to the Revolution along the U.S.–Mexico border.12


The GRI has a considerable collection of maps in its archives related to the history of Mexico, such as those by cartographer Antonio García Cubas.13 In theory, the “Maps” section is a fantastic idea. However, the HTML version does not allow the viewer to zoom in on them. Without this capability, the maps are virtually unreadable. The Flash version allows viewers to zoom, but the images are low resolution, so they distort easily. Unfortunately, neither of the sites reviewed in this article provide citation information for the maps.


The “Chronology” section is very similar to the section of the same name found at Sixty-five Years of Photography. The main difference is that this “Chronology” section provides a single image with each event description. This section will be particularly useful to students, as it provides an organized overview of Mexican history since independence.

Footer Tabs

Please note, “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution” has a series of tabs at the footer that are difficult to notice because they are light gray and are located below eye level. A discussion of this feature will be most useful. Therefore, a description of the footer tabs is discussed below in the order in which they appear, from left to right. Please also note, the “Home” tab, which is the first tab, does not work.

The “Print” tab needs some clarification. All the printable documents are text only. Clicking on this tab will take you to a page that lists some of the tabs that are located on the left side of the web page (discussed above), as well as some of the tabs that are listed in the footer of the page. The “Empire to Nation” and “Revolution” tabs discussed above are also on this page. Essentially, items from the “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution” website that are available to print will be listed on this page. Clicking on one of the tab names in this list will open up a printable PDF document. For example, if one were to click “Introduction” on this page, a new window of a printable PDF document would open up containing the text for the Introduction.

The next footer tab is the “Glossary.” This is a superb resource for students and scholars, and it seems more thorough than the glossary found at the Sixty-five Years of Photography site. The glossary contains photographic terms, historical events, important people, as well as terms in Spanish related to Mexican history. Items are listed in alphabetical order, and viewers can easily scroll through the list. Although there is no keyword search, viewers may search the glossary by clicking any of the letters of the alphabet listed in the header of the page.

The “Resources” page is another excellent source of information related to Mexican history. The four sections are:


“Bibliography.” Twenty texts are listed in this section.


“Getty Research Institute Library Collections.” Contains a thorough list of the collections that hold the images displayed on the sites discussed above. For those interested in learning more about the availability of these collections, accession numbers can be copied and pasted into the “search” bar of the GRI’s Primo Search tool.


“Related Getty Research Library Holdings.” Contains additional resources related to Mexican history that can be found in the GRI’s archives.


“Institutions with Significant Photographic Collections Relevant to Mexico, 1860–1920.” This is an excellent list, but sadly most of the links no longer work (an indication of how huge a task it is to continually update sites like this). However, doing a general web search using the names of the institutions provided in the list will be a great way to find the updated links.

The “Credits” page has only two email links. However, as of 2016, both individuals no longer are employed at the GRI. The “Contact” page has the same two individuals listed. A general contact email for the GRI is provided. Working links to the GRI’s main page, as well as to the Getty’s main page are also provided.


Photohistorian John Mraz argues, “image research has been limited largely to simply finding pictures, rather than recovering the information that would enable the telling of marvelous stories about the past.”14 The Getty portals discussed in this essay offer more than just a finding aid. Information about the photographers will help researchers understand how important photographs have been to documenting Mexican history. The summary information provided in each section of the “From Empire to Revolution” portal will serve viewers well in understanding the theme of each section. Understanding the various themes in each section can serve as a springboard for viewers to seek out additional information.

Scholars searching for visual resources related to Mexican history, 1857–1923, will find a plethora of visual material at the portals discussed above. Moreover, educators will find the primary sources available at these sites to be a perfect match for class research assignments and supplemental lecture material. These resources can easily be embedded in PowerPoint lecture presentations and class websites (i.e., content management systems), and they can be turned into Word and PDF documents for print handouts.

Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Mexican Art and Archaeology

Figure 4. Auguste Génin. Collections mexicaines de Aug. Génin. ca. 1910.

Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Mexican Art and Archaeology is the online version of an exhibition held at the Getty Research Institute Exhibition Gallery, November 16, 2010–March 27, 2011. As stated on its home page, “This exhibition explores representations of Mexican archaeological objects and sites made from the Colonial era to the present.”15 This site is much easier to navigate than A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico, quite possibly because it was created more recently, reflecting changes in web technology. As such, a detailed guide is not necessary. Rather, a simple explanation of the contents of each section will help readers streamline their research. Those interested in Aztec culture will benefit from visiting this site. Although the in-person exhibition featured contemporary art from the likes of Einar and Jamex de la Torre, the online exhibition only features objects contained in the GRI’s holdings.16

Obsidian Mirror-Travels has twelve tabs, or sections, for viewers to navigate. Unlike Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico, each section does not have additional tabs to explore. The tabs are simple to navigate. Each tab, except for the last one, has a brief summary and includes one or two images related to the summary information (Figure 4). The last tab, “Digitized Resources,” is where viewers will find links to an impressive range of the GRI’s digitized online resources related to Mexican history.

The titles of the twelve sections of Obsidian Mirror-Travels are as follows:


Obsidian Mirror-Travels (home page)


Información en español


Through the Obsidian Mirror


Conquest and Colonization


Rediscovering Ancient Mexico


The Aztec Calendar Stone




Reproducing Ancient Mexican Books


French Intervention


Archaeology and Nationalism


Related Events


Digitized Resources

The “Digitized Resources” tab contains citation information for ten digitized GRI holdings. Nine of these citations have links that allow users to view these holdings online. Researchers will find hundreds of images within these links. These images are available for download in a variety of formats. A Primo Search link is also provided that includes complete citation information for all ten of the holdings listed in the “Digitized Resources” section. The ten holdings listed are as follows:


Giro del mondo dottor d. Gio. Francesco Gemelli. Italian manuscript, 1699–1700.


De los veinte y vn libros rituales y monarquia indiana. Spanish manuscript, 1723. Topics include Franciscans and Mexican indigenous people.


Facsimile of Historia de las cosas de Nueva España, 1905.


Fold-Out Lithograph Facsimile of the Codex Boturini in John Delafield, An inquiry into the origin of the antiquities of America.


Antigüedades mexicanas.


Mexique, 1865. Album created by a French soldier during the French invasion of Mexico.


Collections mexicaines de Aug. Génin., 191–? “Album of mounted photographic prints depicting objects in Auguste Génin's collection of archaeological, cultural, and natural objects found in Mexico.”17


Views of Maya Ruins in the Yucatan, 1873. Cabinet card photographic prints of Chichén Iztá and Uxmal (see Figures 5 and 6).


Augustus and Alice Dixon Le Plongeon Photographs of Mexican Archaeological Sites 1873–1910. [Images from this collection have not been digitized yet. Those interested in viewing the object in person will need to contact GRI’s Special Collections].


Augustus and Alice Dixon Le Plongeon Papers 1763–1937, bulk 1860–1910.

Figure 5. Chichen [stone sculptural relief bird] 96.R.137.472. Views of Maya Ruins in the Yucatan, 1873 [Cabinet card photographic prints of Chichén Iztá and Uxmal]

Courtesy of the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.

Figure 6. Chichen [stone sculpted heads] 96.R.137.473. Views of Maya Ruins in the Yucatan, 1873 [Cabinet card photographic prints of Chichén Iztá and Uxmal]

Courtesy of the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.


Researchers will find the Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Mexican Art and Archaeology online exhibition to be a tremendous resource. The summary information is a useful didactic, and the links to the digitized images described above provide a wide variety of images to view and download. Researchers looking to read an analysis of the images will not find an abundance of information. Some analysis is provided in the summary of each section of the online exhibition, but the analysis pertains only to the one or two images displayed. However, the summary information is well written and can be a useful to tool in serving as a springboard for those interested in seeking additional information. The material found within Obsidian Mirror-Travels will serve as excellent resources for scholars and educators.

Discussion of the Literature

John Mraz, in his article “Picturing Mexico’s Past: Photography and Historia Gráfica,” argues that the “basic tasks of ‘photohistory’ (the representation of history in photographs) are essentially the same as historiography (the representation of history in words).”18 Why, then, do we typically find photographs included only in the middle section of a monograph, without citation information or critical analysis? Mraz addresses this very question by suggesting photographs ought to be used for “stimulating and orienting research, rather than reduced to being attractive filler.”19 In other words, students and scholars can add considerable depth and perspective by including an analysis, or detailed background information, related to any images included as part of a research presentation.

As Mraz further points out, “Historia gráfica (illustrated history) is the medium that most explicitly assigns meaning to historical photographs.” He goes on to explain, “Since the 1920s, the story of Mexico’s past has often been told through picture histories, and it continues to be an important forum in which leading historians have participated.”20 On the other hand, Mraz reminds us that the genre of historias gráficas in Mexico has often produced texts that are heavy on nostalgia, and light on critical analysis. We are reminded by Mraz that many of the mid-20th century historias gráficas have no citation information, omit discussing the motivation of a photographer or publisher, romanticize the poor and indigenous populations, and sometimes attempt to psychologically analyze the subjects based on facial expressions and body language. As pointed out by Mraz, part of the problem is that many of these texts are published by the Mexican government or descendants of early 20th century photographers. Publishers such as these often have a different agenda than independent scholars who are attempting to understand the past through a critical analysis of the images. In one way or another, elements such as nationalism, nostalgia, legacy, and romanticism have been the driving force of these types of publications.

Mraz does see encouraging “signs on the horizon for historia gráfica. In the first place, photography itself is being treated with more respect, and research into the history of its practice in Mexico has undergone an important transformation with the appearance of [new] monographs.”21 Moreover, with the astonishing quantity of photographs available through online digital collections from institutions around the world, it is likely we will see the emergence of additional photohistory publications.

Below is a simplified list of 20th-century historias gráficas, as discussed by Mraz in “Picturing Mexico’s Past: Photography and Historia Gráfica.” According to Mraz, some of the texts listed fall into the “tradition of light historias gráficas,” as discussed above, while others provide a more critical approach to understanding the images. See Mraz’s article for further details on this topic.

Primary Sources

  • Boil, Guillermo. Las casas campesinas en el profiriato. Mexico DF: Martín Casillas-SEP, 1982.
  • Casasola, Gustavo. Historia gráfica de la Revolución Mexicana. Mexico City: Trillas, 1973.
  • Casasola, Gustavo. Seis siglos de historia gráfica de México. Mexico DF: Editorial Gustavo Casasola-CNCA, 1989.
  • Delgado, Ana Laura. Veracruz, imágenes de su historia. Memoria y olvido: Imágenes de México Veracruz: Archivo General del Estado de Veracruz, 1989.
  • Huerta, David. Las intimidades colectivas. Mexico DF: Martín Casillas-SEP, 1982.
  • Monsiváis, Carlos. Celia Montalván (te brindas, voluptuosa e impudente). Mexico DF: Martín Casillas-SEP, 1982.
  • Poniatowska, Elena. El último guajolote. Mexico DF: Martín Casillas-SEP, 1982.

The following texts are pointed out by John Mraz as being part of the new turn in photohistory that provides a more thorough study of photographic images related to Mexican history.

  • Aguayo, Fernando. Estampas ferrocarrileras. Fotografía y grabado 1860–1890. Mexico DF: Instituto Mora, 2003.
  • Figarella, Marianna. Edward Weston y Tina Modotti en México. Su inserción dentro de las estrategias estéticas del arte posrevolucionario. Mexico, DF: UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Esteticas, 2003.
  • Massé Zendejas, Patricia. Simularcro y elegancia en tarjetas de visita. Fotografícas de Cruces y Campa. Mexico, DF: Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historía, 1998.
  • Monroy Nasr, Rebecca. Historias para ver: Enrique Díaz, fotorreportero. Mexico, DF: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historía, 2003.
  • Ochoa, Arturo Aguilar. La fotografía durante el imperio de Maximiliano. Mexico, DF: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1996.

Links to Digital Materials

Further Reading

Because the GRI portal for A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico lists approximately twenty-five sources in its “Bibliography” section, this list attempts to fill any gaps in that online list, since it has not been updated since 2010.

  • Aultman, Otis A. Photographs from the Border: The Otis A. Aultman Collection. El Paso, TX: El Paso Public Library, 1977.
  • Bezanilla, Clara. A Pocket Dictionary of Aztec and Mayan Gods and Goddesses. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2010.
  • Brehme, Hugo. México, una nación persistente: Hugo Brehme, fotografías. Mexico, DF: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes: Museo Franz Mayer, 1995.
  • Brenner, Anita, and George R. Leighton. The Wind that Swept Mexico: The History of the Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984.
  • Brunk, Samuel. The Posthumous Career of Emiliano Zapata: Myth, Memory, and Mexico’s Twentieth Century. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008.
  • Casasola, Agustín-Victor, Pete Hamill, and Pablo Ortiz Monasterio. The Revolution and Beyond: Photographs by Agustín Victor Casasola 1900–1940. New York: Aperture, 2003.
  • Casasola, Gustavo. Historia gráfica de la revolución Mexicana, 1900–1970. Mexico, DF: Trillas, 1992.
  • Cheng, Scarlet. “The Hybrid Art of Einar and Jamex de la Torre,” Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2010.
  • Cruz-Ramírez, Alfredo. Agustín V. Casasola. Paris: Centre national de la photographie, 1992
  • Elllingwood, Ken. “Zapata Photo Shrouded in Mystery,” Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2009.
  • Folgarait, Leonard. Seeing Mexico Photographed: The Work of Horne, Casasola, Modotti, and Álvarez Bravo. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.
  • Johnson, Reed. “Building Bridges between Mexican and Mexican American Art,” Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2013.
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  • 1. Beth Ann Guynn, “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution,” Getty Research Institute, last modified 2010.

  • 2. A Nation Emerges: The Mexican Revolution Revealed,” Getty Research Institute, last modified 2011.

  • 3. Terms of Use/Copyright,” The Getty.

  • 4. John Mraz, “Picturing Mexico’s Past: Photography and Historia Gráfica,” South Central Review 21.3 (2004): 25.

  • 5. Désiré Charnay, Ancient Cities of the New World (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1887).

  • 6. Désiré Charnay, Cités et ruines américaines, Mitla, Palenqué, Izamal, Chichen-Itza, Uxmal; recueillies et photographiées par Désiré Charnay; avec un texte par M. Viollet-le-Duc … suivi du voyage et des documents de l’auteur (Paris: Gide, 1862–1863).

  • 7. A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico, Getty Research Institute, last modified 2010.

  • 8. Getty Research Institute Library, Getty Research Institute, last modified 2015.

  • 9. Soleau, Teresa. Digital Library Specialist, Digital Services, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, California.

  • 10. Beth Ann Guynn, “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution,” Getty Research Institute, last modified 2010.

  • 11. Beth Ann Guynn, “Mexico: From Empire to Revolution,” Getty Research Institute, last modified 2010.

  • 12. For more on Otis A. Aultman (American, 1874–1943) see “Otis A. Aultman Photo Collection,” El Paso Library, Border Heritage Center. Also, see Photographs from the Border: The Otis A. Aultman Collection, Mary A. Sarber (El Paso, TX: El Paso Public Library Association, 1977). For more on Robert Runyon, see “The South Texas Border: 1900–1920,” University of Texas at Austin.

  • 13. The Getty Research Institute has several maps of Mexico created by Antonio García Cubas (Mexican, 1832–1912) located in the Tonatiúh and Electra Gutiérrez Collection of Maps and Images of the Americas, 1523–1904 (Special Collections, accn. no. P840001*). Many of these maps were used in the GRI’s exhibition A Nation Emerges: The Mexican Revolution Revealed, but have not been added to the GRI’s online digital archive. However, they are available by appointment, to be viewed in the GRI Special Collections Room. These maps would be very useful for anyone studying Mexican History up to the late nineteenth century. The maps contain highly detailed information covering various themes such as natural resources, population information, archeological sites, as well as modes of transportation and communication.

  • 14. John Mraz, “Picturing Mexico’s Past: Photography and Historia Gráfica,” South Central Review 21.3 (2004): 25.

  • 15. Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Ancient Mexican Art and Archaeology,” Getty Research Institute, last modified 2011.

  • 16. For information on the de la Torre brothers, visit their website. Also see Scarlet Cheng, “The Hybrid Art of Einar and Jamex de la Torre,” Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2010.

  • 17. Collections mexicaines de Ug. Génin., 191–?,” Getty Research Institute.

  • 18. John Mraz, “Picturing Mexico’s Past: Photography and Historia Gráfica,” South Central Review 21.3 (2004): 25.

  • 19. Ibid., 25.

  • 20. Ibid., 24.

  • 21. Ibid., 40.