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Mexican Documents Collection

Identifier: MSS 0587

Scope and Content

The collection contains photographs and documents pertaining to Mexico, and includes maps and brochures that promote tourism in Mexico from Barbachano's Travel Service, Dirección General de Turismo, Yucatan Trails Travel Agency, Mexicana Airlines, Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), National Railways of Mexico, American Airlines System, various hotels in Mexico, Illinois Central Railway, Simpsons Tours, and United Air Lines. The majority of the brochures are from PEMEX. The collection also contains photographs.

Barbachano's Travel Service was established by Fernando Barbachano Peón as Mayaland Tours in the 1920s. The agency changed its name to Barbachano’s Travel Service in the 1940s to promote tourism in southeastern Mexico. Fernando Barbachano was one of the first people to start the Yucatan tourism business in the early twentieth century. In 1944, he bought Hacienda Chichén with the Chichén Itzá archaeological site. Fernando Barbachano was also the owner of Mayaland Hotel, Mérida Hotel, Hacienda Chichén, and Hacienda Uxmal. Barbachano’s Travel Agency is one of the oldest tourism agencies in Mexico.

The Dirección General de Turismo was created in 1949 with the First Federal Law of Tourism (Ley Federal de Turismo), which stated that the Ministry of the Interior would study and solve tourism problems in Mexico through the Dirección General de Turismo. At that time, the Ministry of the Interior was in charge of tourism policies. The Dirección General de Turismo was located in Mexico City at Avenida Juárez 89 and had offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and New York.

Yucatan Trails Travel Agency was the second travel agency created in Yucatán. It was founded in 1947 by Felipe Escalante Marín in Mérida. During the 1960s he opened Cunanchén hotel located in Chichén Itzá with his brother Manuel Escalante Marín. Yucatan Trails Travel Agency was a member of the American Society of Travel Association, Inc. (ASTA).

Mexicana Airlines was established in 1921 in Mexico City as Compañía Mexicana de Transportación Aérea. Mexicana Airlines was the first airline to receive the Mexican government permission to fly an air route from Mexico City to Tampico. In 1924 the airline’s new owners changed its name to Compañía Mexicana de Aviación (CMA) and mainly transported people and mail. In 1929, Mexicana Airlines' stocks were sold to Pan American Airways in the United States, and the company began operating international routes. From 1969 to 2010, due to competition from other airlines, the economic recession, and the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, the company suffered financial problems. Mexicana Airlines filed for bankruptcy in August 2010 and suspended all of its flights.

National Railways of Mexico (Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México) was founded in February 1908 by a government decree and merged the two biggest railroad companies of the country: Ferrocarril Central and Ferrocarril Nacional. National Railways of Mexico, was one of the most important railways systems in Mexico, extending from the United States border to the Guatemala frontier, and between principal ports on the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) is a Mexican state-owned oil company that operates throughout Mexico. It was founded in July 1938 by President Lázaro Cárdenas by a Decree of the Congress of the Union. It was created for the exploration, exploitation, refining, and commercialization of oil, and its derivatives. PEMEX was the only company that could exploit and manage the oil deposits found in Mexican territory. Currently, PEMEX is one of the largest oil and gas companies in Latin America.


  • Creation: 1900-1962

Language of Materials

Includes materials written in English and Spanish.


The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

The development of tourism in Mexico began in the early twentieth century with the creation of the first tourist services, such as tourist hotels and travel agencies, and with the flow of people from the United States who began to cross the Mexican border during the time of the prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol in the United States. Tijuana and Yucatan were Mexico’s first tourist destinations. Currently, Mexico is one of the most visited tourist destinations worldwide.

The development of tourism in Mexico can be divided into three phases:

Early phase (1920-1940): The concept of "tourist" appears for the first time in Mexican legislation with the enactment of the Migration Law of 1926. It stated that travelers visiting Mexico for recreational purposes should not stay longer than six months. In 1922, the Association of Hotel Managers and Owners was created, which in 1929 became the Mexican Association of Hotels and Motels. In 1938, private and public organizations that promoted tourism in Mexico and internationally began, such as Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) travel club and the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies. During this phase, the Pro-Tourism Mixed Commission (Comisión Mixta Pro-Turismo) was created, its main function was to carry out studies and projects to promote the increase of visitors to the country. Over the years, the Commission evolved to become the current Secretary of Tourism.

Development phase (1940-1958): During this period, large hotels were created, travel agencies multiplied, and tourist transportation and specialized tour guides appeared. In 1947, the tour guide as a profession and travel agencies operations were regulated. That same year, the Secretary of Economy founded the Mexican School of Tourism. Later in 1949, the National Tourism Commission (Comisión Nacional de Turismo) was created and enacted the first Federal Tourism Law. In 1956, the Fondo de Garantía y Fomento del Turismo (FOGATUR) was established to study and develop tourist centers, stimulate national and international tourism, and promote tourism enterprises.

Technification phase (1958-1999): During this period the regulations for tour guides, drivers, and travel agencies were published, and important events were held such as the celebration of the Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968. In 1974, the Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Tursimo (FONATUR) was created, an entity in charge of financing and promoting tourist sites such as, Cancún, Nayarit, Loreto, Ixtapa, Los Cabos, and Huatulco. Also, the Department of Tourism was transformed into the Secretary of Tourism (SECTUR) to establish tourism policies, promote the professionalization, education, training, and tourism culture, support travel agencies, provide assistance to visitors, and represent Mexico in international organizations.


1.52 Linear Feet (2 boxes)


The collection contains documents and photographs pertaining to Mexico, including maps and brochures that promote tourism in Mexico from Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), Mexicana Airlines, Barbachano's Travel Service, National Railways of Mexico, Dirección General de Turismo, Yucatan Trails Travel Agency, American Airlines System, various hotels in Mexico, Illinois Central Railway, Simpsons Tours, and United Air Lines.


The collection is organized in two series, Series 1, Maps and Brochures, is arranged alphabetically by travel/oil company. Series 2, Photographs - Rural and Urban photographs, is chronologically arranged.


University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternate Form of Finding Aid

This guide is available in Spanish at

Acquisition Information

Accruals ongoing.

Related Materials

Mexican Ephemera Collection, at Princeton University Library.



A Guide to the Mexican Documents Collection
Finding aid created by Nelissa E. Caraballo-Ramos
October 2021 (Updated May 2024)
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Revision Statements

  • May 2024: This collection was revised my Martha Kapelewski to add the "Rural and Urban photo archive, 1936". Ten black and white photographs of a woman's trip to Mexico in 1936..

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America