Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Mexican Ephemera Collection
Graphic Arts Collection
Permanent URL:
16 boxes, 2 cases, and 102 items
Storage Note:
review: Box 1-16
English Spanish; Castilian


Consists of books, maps, scrapbooks, posters, and other materials.

Collection Description & Creator Information


Contains a variety of material types.

According to the World Tourism Organization, Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world. In 2005 it was the seventh most popular tourist destination worldwide, receiving over 20 million tourists per year; Tourism is presently the third largest income producing activity in Mexico, following Oil revenue and remittance from abroad. How did this huge economic engine develop?

Prior to the 1880's there were few pleasure seekers visiting Mexico; mostly adventurers, scientists, businessmen and missionaries. Transportation was terrible, extensive mountain ranges made carriage or horseback travel slow and torturous. The railroad slowly changed all that. With the advent of "Pullman Cars" the lack of hotels, restaurants, carriage stops, stables or other infrastructure became irrelevant. Travelers ate and slept on the train and only left to see sights or visit cities.

Until 1910 most tourism was via train. Villagers who made baskets, ceramics and carved items in wood, would go to the train stops and sell their "souvenirs." This was the beginning of the curio business and the development of modern Mexican folk art or "artes popular."

Parallel to the development of tourism, and promoted and encouraged by the government, was the growth of land speculation, commerce and industry. While traveling for business, Americans found the country beautiful and exotic, and conversely tourists saw opportunities in Mexico for commerce and took advantage of a friendly Diaz administration.

The 1910 Revolution brought tourism to a dead stop. Lasting until the early 1920's, the turmoil in the new governments, the dangers of ever changing sides, made tourism nearly impossible.

Post revolutionary reconstruction started with the recognition by the United States President, Warren G. Harding, of the Obregon government in 1923. With political stability came an increased investment in roads, hotels and other facilities. Tourism started to flourish. By the mid-20's auto travel started to supplement the railroad. The roaring 20's in the U.S. added to the volume of tourism and by the end of the 20's prohibition allowed the boarder cities of Tijuana and Juarez to entertain a thriving business for fun seekers.

In 1936, with the opening of the Pan American Highway, connecting Laredo, Texas, with Mexico City, tourism to Mexico grew dramatically. Americans came down for the exotic pleasures Mexico offered. The ruins of classic civilization; the exposure to colonial cities and the pleasure of vast, beautiful beaches. The artistic environment of Mexico City attracted the culture tourist and the government formally developed a tourist agency to assist in development. New hotels and restaurants catered to the auto crowd - as did garages and filling stations.

The war in Europe slowed tourism, as did Mexico's flirtation with the Axis side. After the war, a new mode of transportation opened to the public. The airline industry literally took-off. The 1950's ushered in the resort culture to Mexico. Acapulco was a playground for the rich. By the 60's Cancun and the Yucatan developed and soon people were talking about the "Mayan Riviera."

In 1968 Mexico hosted the Olympic games. This event, and the world's attention paid to Mexico could be considered the culmination of nearly ninety years of developing tourism in Mexico.


Arranged by topic or form into 15 series:

Collection History

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Associate University Librarian for Special Collections. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Mexican Ephemera Collection; Graphic Arts Collection, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
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