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date: 23 April 2017

Digital Resources: The DeGolyer Library

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.

Collections at Southern Methodist University's DeGolyer Library focus on the U.S. West, the Spanish borderlands, transportation, business history, and much more. The DeGolyer has over 900,000 photographs and is especially rich in Mexican photography. With more than 120 Mexican accessions, mostly from the period ca. 1865–1930, the DeGolyer has one of the most comprehensive photographic collections in the country totaling more than 8,500 photographs and 3,000 negatives. Additional Mexican accessions include portraits, manuscript collections of viceroyalty documents (some signed by Spanish kings), land grants, applications for nobility, documents related to the Catholic Church and to the emperors Iturbide and Maximilian, materials from the Mexican War and Texas Revolution, early maps, currency, and rare books.

A country of great beauty and geographical diversity, Mexico has attracted a variety of photographers from abroad as well as regional image-makers. More than thirty photographers are represented at the DeGolyer. Subjects include landscapes, native peoples, railroads, mining, agriculture, tourist views, and the Mexican 1910 Centennial and Mexican Revolution. Collections at the DeGolyer also illustrate the regime of President Porfirio Díaz (r. 1876–1910) and the eventual struggle for power between the old guard and working-class people leading to the revolution. The Mexican Revolution was a drawn out, violent, and bloody affair, and the DeGolyer has important collections relating to the conflict.

The Norwick Center for Digital Services (nCDS), a unit of Southern Methodist University’s Central University Libraries (CUL), is working with the DeGolyer Library to put an increasing number of the Mexican collections online. The DeGolyer Library’s digitized Mexican accessions are available in the "Mexico: Photographs, Manuscripts, and Imprints" digital collection, which is part of the CUL Digital Collections website.

The nCDS and the DeGolyer Library have documented the digital collection’s use in a variety of publications, exhibits, and educational applications. The primary resources available in "Mexico: Photographs, Manuscripts, and Imprints" are widely used throughout Mexico by Mexican academic researchers, school students, and the general public. The digital collection is also utilized in many other countries by scholars and people who want to learn more about Mexico’s rich cultural heritage and tumultuous past. The nCDS and the DeGolyer Library are continuing to augment this popular digital resource, one that is growing use for the study of Mexican history.