Click here to skip to content

Mexican Collections

The largest Mexican collections in the United Kingdom covering books, serials, manuscripts, stamps, sound recordings, maps and newspapers. Its most outstanding Mexican holdings include an impressive collection of early imprints, some of which are rare works and several important named collections, which are described in greater detail below. Humanities and Social Sciences holds more than 17,000 titles printed in Mexico. They are research-level and cover a broad range of subjects, especially history and literature.

The Library has impressive holdings of 46 early imprints from the colonial period, several of which are notable for their rarity. Many are doctrinal works, confessionals, translations of the Bible and religious services and were printed for use by the religious orders. The Library also holds some early grammar books, vocabularies and catechisms compiled by proselytising Spanish friars in indigenous languages.

Material is held also for the history of the colonial period in Mexico, for example, viceroys' regulations etc. Of particular note is a good representation of Mexican official publications of the first half of the 18th century.

Books about exploration of the New World are also well represented. The collection of political pamphlets 1810-1860 is noteworthy and amongst them, the collection of publications from 1820 onwards documenting the Mexican struggle for independence is impressive. It contains works published by Iturbide, Santa Anna and Lizardi. There are more than 300 pamphlets relating to Lizardi. It should be noted that the British Library acquired many of these important books and pamphlets relating to Mexico in the Fischer sale, held in Leipzig in 1869, and in the Ramírez sale in London in 1880.

Mexican materials are also held in other parts of the Library. In the Manuscripts Department, some of the manuscripts held are in indigenous languages, for example, grammars and vocabularies. But it should be noted that the manuscripts in indigenous writing such as the Zouche codex were transferred in 1930 to the Department of Ethnography of the British Museum, where they remain today. The extensive Bauzá collection contains excellent Mexican maps produced by Spanish military engineers between 1750 and 1810.

Mexico is well represented in the British Library's holdings of stamps. For example, there is an extensive collection of 19th-century stamps which form part of the Tapling collection. A copy is held of every stamp issued in Mexico this century.

The Sound Archive has a broad collection of Mexican music. There are numerous recordings ranging from indigenous music to that of mariachis and marimbas. There is also an interesting collection of recordings published by the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes recorded on Radio Education, an English radio programme.

The Mexican collections held in the Map Library reflect European interest in Mexico. There are maps and atlases which guided the explorers in the 16th and 17th centuries. There are maps representing Mexico in the colonial period and also some Mexican maps which were acquired from Alexander von Humboldt's library.

British Library Newspapers acquires El Universal on microfilm and also there is a long run of Excelsior. The hundred and thirty Mexican titles have, generally, short runs or are sample copies. However, interesting titles are held like La Orquesta (1861-1863) which spans a significant period for the study of Mexican politics.

Historically, the Science Technology & Business purchased titles relating to scientific specialisations of a country, for example, volcanoes or oil in Mexico. The Library also holds a large number of Mexican patents.

The Document Supply service has resources available for inter-library loan for customers in the United Kingdom and world-wide. In total, their own collections include more than one thousand five hundred monographs relating to Mexico, mostly in English. It has access to a network of other libraries' holdings throughout the country for inter-library loan.


Hispanic Section
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7569
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7784