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date: 23 April 2017

Digital Resources: The Wheelan Collection of Photographs of the Mexican Revolution

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. Please check back later for the full article.

The John D. Wheelan Collection contains photographs taken along the Texas-Mexico border in the area of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, from 1912 to 1919. The collection, which is housed at Texas A&M University’s Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, comprises nearly 700 photographs documenting the Mexican Revolution from the end of the decades-long rule of Porfirio Díaz. It includes images from the revolution’s spillover into the United States.

Already active in the fledgling Texan motion picture industry, according to film historian John Slate, Wheelan was one of numerous reporters and photographers who covered the Mexican Revolution. He probably arrived in northern Mexico early in the winter of 1913–1914, when General Francisco (Pancho) Villa held Ciudad Juárez. Villa was considered the most able military commander among the Constitutionalists, a coalition of revolutionaries who were fighting against General Victoriano Huerta’s provisional government. In February 1913, Huerta had conspired in the overthrow of the constitutionally elected government of President Francisco Madero. Villa, an ardent supporter of Madero, was one of several leaders in northern Mexico who were fighting for both the restoration of constitutional government and the enactment of revolutionary reforms.