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Dia de los Muertos

November 26, 2012

Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, is well-represented throughout many collections within UTSA Libraries Special Collections. From rare books, to manuscripts, artwork, and photographs, literature and images chronicle this rich, cultural tradition. Celebration and reunion with those who have passed on grounds Dia de los Muertos in Mexico and around the world . We invite you to explore the Day of the Dead through our collections.

Rare Books

Mexico: Day of the Dead compiled and edited by Chloe Sayer

“In Mexico, the first and second of November belong to the dead. According to popular belief, the deceased have divine permission to visit friends and relatives on earth, and to share the pleasures of the living. To an outsider celebrations might seem macabre, but in Mexico death is considered a part of life.”[1]

Corridos and Calaveras by Edward Larocque Tinker

“. . . in the Calaveras the lampoon is always cast into the form of a mock epitaph. Their two main functions are to remind us in a good-humored way that we all are mortal, and to poke fun at friends and attack public officials.”[2]

“Death’s-Heads Are Sold By The Ton” from Corridos and Calaveras

La Voz de Esperanza dedicated its November 2012 issue to Dia de los Muertos


“Fiesta de las Calacas” by David Martinez, Serie Project, Inc.

“Fiesta de las Calacas illustrates a story about four ghosts who have a reunion party every year when the moon is full on the night of the Day of the Dead. Characters fling their bones into a tight dance and sing their fate to the empty desert.”-excerpt from[3]

Ofrenda or house altar from the Sterling Houston Papers, MS 218

“Ofrendas are arranged with flowers, candles, incense, and offerings of favorite food for the departed. Traditionally, an altar is a threshold; it marks a sacred site between heaven and earth that provides access of each to the other.”[4]

Day of the Dead exhibit postcard, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Records, MS 158

University Archirves

Paisano, November 5, 1996, UA 01.05

The Paisano covered an exhibit entitled “El Dia de los Muertos Ofrenda,” held at the Institute of Texan Cultures in November 1996.[5] The Institute of Texan Cultures also conducted an oral history interview with a San Antonio artist who chose Dia del los Muertos as his subject matter. The transcript is available through UTSA Libraries Special Collections digital collections.[6]

Photograph Collections

Concepcion Perales constructing wreath of artificial flowers for All Soul’s Day (Day of the Dead), 1947, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS359

Women harvesting flowers for All Soul’s Day (Day of the Dead) Darson Persyn’s farm, San Antonio, Texas, 1971, General Photograph Collection, MS 362

Women placing flowers on grave at San Fernando cemetary No. 2, All Soul’s Day (Day of the Dead), San Antonio, Texas, 1971, General Photograph Collection, MS 362


[1]Chloe Sayer, Mexico:  the Day of the Dead, an anthology ( Boston:  Shambhala Publications, 1993), 8.

[2]  Edward Larocque Tinker, Corridos and Calaveras  (Austin:  University of Texas, 1961), 20.

[3] Fiesta de las Calacas,

[4] Kay Turner and Pat Jasper, Day of the Dead:  the Tex/Mex tradition (San Antonio, Tex.:  The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, 1988), 9.

[5] The Paisano, Vol. 19, Issue 24,

[6] Dia de los Muertes interview,

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