Newly Discovered Pamphlets Feature Heroic Historical Figures from Mexico
This post was written by Alyssa Franklin, our student employee who is responsible for digitization of this collection.
A pair of intriguing pamphlets are hidden within the depths of the Kathryn Stoner O’Conner Sons of the Republic of Texas Mexican Manuscript Collection. They were created by the same author/illustrator in summer of 1948, and each features a heroic historical figure from nineteenth-century Mexico. These documents have been meticulously assembled with great care and attention to detail. Each includes an endearing hand drawn illustration as its frontispiece. Interestingly, these illustrations seem to be based off of well-circulated source images. The artist was drawing from popular images of famous historical figures, and placed them as cover vignettes for his documents.
The subjects of these two works are general Ignacio López Rayón and lawyer Juan Antonio de la Fuente. Interestingly the pamphlets emphasize the state where each of these figures are from: López Rayón hails from the state of Michoacán, and de la Fuente from Coahuila. The opening passage of both documents gives an overview of the states themselves: including major metropolises, demographics, principal crops, and economic activity. These documents appear to be part of a larger series. Perhaps they once belonged to a series in which with a hero from Mexican history, from each individual state, was featured.
After the geographic overview, each document features a detailed biography of its subject. López Rayón was a general who was instrumental in Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain between 1810 and 1828. De la Fuente was a lawyer turned politician, who fought for the creation of laws improving the lives of everyday Mexicans. Both figures are treated in a reverent manner by the author, Rafael Garcés Velásquez.
Although only two of these fascinating documents have been found in the SRT collection thus far, they offer an intimate glimpse into mid-20th century life and concerns in Mexico City. It appears their creator made these as his profession, as prices and days spent laboring are clearly laid out in both pamphlets. Perhaps Rafael Garcés Velásquez was a specialist in creating informative booklets on historical figures and events, who took commissions based on various clients’ requests.
The presence of these two documents with the SRT collection raises more questions than it answers. They are catalogued under the birth and death dates of their subjects, López Rayón and de la Fuente, and not under the year in which they were actually produced, 1948. Although it does not appear that any other pieces by this creator are present in the collection, the formulaic nature of the two examples discussed here leads to the assumption that they were part of a larger series. The dates of production, price charged, and location of their delivery are all meticulously recorded on their closing pages.
Whoever the creator of these documents, Rafael Garcés Velásquez, was- he clearly had a vested personal interest Mexico’s nineteenth-century past. These handmade creations offer glimpses at the industry surrounding a proliferation of history; they exhibit veneration for a century gone by.
Both booklets have been digitized and can be viewed in their entirety in our online digital collections.
For a complete collection inventory, please see the finding aid.