Women in the Mexican Revolution

Women in the Mexican Revolution

To close

Title: Mexican women in the revolutionary army

Creation date : 1913 -

Technique and other indications: The small newspaper. Supplement for Sunday November 16, 1913

Storage location: National Library of France (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © National Library of France

Picture reference: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k717086m.item

Mexican women in the revolutionary army

© National Library of France

Publication date: November 2016

Historical context

1913, Mexico sinks into violence

With the coup d'etat of General Huerta and the assassination of President Madero in February 1913, the Mexican Revolution tended to sink into anarchy. Fighting spread across the country, and violence turned to settling of scores, especially in the south where Zapata targeted large landowners by burning down haciendas and distributing land to poor peasants.

With the domination of Porfirio Diaz (1876-1911) all feminist claims had been put under the extinguisher. Few of the women who directly took part in the fighting were undoubtedly few, but they were well identified and quickly heroised within popular Mexican tradition, under the generic name of ’Adelitas. Perez, active in the Del Norte Division by Pancho Villa).

Here they are represented here on a color engraving made from an original drawing, for the cover of the Sunday supplement of a major French daily newspaper of November 16, 1913: The small newspaper. This newspaper is not an opinion or analytical daily: on the contrary, it belongs to the main popular press of the IIIe Republic before 1914. Print runs declined in the early 1910s, however, and dropped to just under one million copies.

Image Analysis

Modernized Amazons

Boulders denote the aridity and ingratitude of the relief, which is apparently enough to create an imaginary Mexico. A derailed train, a burnt down house, armed men marching in close ranks, wearing sombreros: these are the three graphic elements that allow us to more precisely evoke Mexico in revolution. The cartridge belts passed over the blouses, the faces with the rather hard features, the short hair, contribute to give these combatants an aspect if not frightening, at least impressive. But if they sport weapons and cartridge belts, they remain confined to tasks "marked" as belonging to the traditional female sphere, in particular the kitchen of the bivouac, which several of them supervise.

But a few, especially to the right near the train wreck and in the background, stand out as lookouts or guardians. These women also did not give up their feminine clothes to convert to trousers: here, they remained with the dress or the long skirt, but they adopted as head covering the sombrero, which is in it- even a manly attribute.


A sensationalist take on women's engagement in the Mexican revolution

There is nothing to indicate that the designer actually witnessed the scene. The function of this cover is first of all to attract the eye and to encourage the purchase of the newspaper and to direct the curiosity of the reader towards the interior pages: one finds there moreover only a few lines on Mexico. , the rest being devoted to women soldiers in the history of France.

Seen from Europe, the Mexican Revolution does not mobilize strongly public opinion. The presentation that is given to the public often favors the sensational. The highlighting of women who have served the Revolution serves this objective. Inspired by a very real phenomenon, the image thus serves to suggest to the French reader Small Journal the character both radical and tempered but also a little exotic of the political and social violence which is tearing Mexico apart.

  • Mexico
  • women
  • revolutionary


Jesus SILVA HERZOG, Mexican revolution, Paris, Maspero, 1968.

Bernard OUDIN, Villa, Zapata and Mexico on fire, Paris, Gallimard, 1989.

To cite this article

Nicolas BOURGUINAT, "Women in the Mexican Revolution"

Video: Mexico in WW1 - The Mexican Revolution I THE GREAT WAR Special