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October 2006

Release Date: October 19, 2006

ASU Acquires Major Collection of Materials on Mexico, Mexican Revolution

The West Texas Collection has purchased a major collection of photo postcards and other materials on the borderlands to augment its holdings on the Mexican Revolution and to expand its overall collection of Mexican holdings for the period between the 1870s and 1940s.

The historical repository at Angelo State University acquired the collection from Phoenix collector Russ Todd, who amassed a collection of some 8,500 photo postcards during his career as a bookseller and collector. The collection was acquired for $81,250 through an anonymous gift to the Friends of the Porter Henderson Library and West Texas Collection.

The Todd collection has been compared to be on par with the Mexican photography archives at the world-famous Getty Museum in Los Angeles by Alejandro Murguía, an associate professor in the Department of Raza Studies at San Francisco State University and an authority on Mexican photo postcards.

"The extensive research I have conducted in this field in the last three years," wrote Murguía in an assessment of the collection, "puts me in a position to state that this collection is a very important historical archive as well as the patrimony of Mexico. I do not believe that anywhere in Mexico, or the world for that matter, does a similar collection of such range and depth exist."

Of the 8,500 postcards, approximately 8,000 are photo postcards, meaning they are images made by photographic rather than printing processes, thus providing a higher quality image. The images include extensive shots from the Mexican-U.S. border as well as the Pacific Cost, including Mazatlán before 1914.

One of the more unique sets of images was shot in border saloons during Prohibition in the United States. These include one of the San Angelo Bar, operated in Acuña by John Crosby and his wife, "Ma" Crosby, who is believed to have been a former San Angelo resident.

Additionally, the collection includes numerous books, railroad brochures, photograph albums, pamphlets, posters, maps and other ephemera.

"This is such a wonderful collection," according to Suzanne Campbell, head of the West Texas Collection, "because of the depth and breadth of the materials. Once it is accessioned and catalogued, it has the potential to attract scholars nationally and even internationally to campus to study Texas and borderlands history.

"We at Angelo State are grateful to the Friends of the Library for supporting this effort and to the donor who realized the historic value of the collection and provided the Friends with the money necessary to secure the Todd collection for posterity," she said.

Long a focus of the West Texas Collection's holdings, the Mexican Revolution materials with the addition of the Todd Collection and a collection of revolutionary era money earlier this year by Dallas collector Elmer Powell are now among the best and most unique holdings in the state, according to Campbell. The materials will enhance the research resources available for students in ASU's growing Texas and borderlands studies program.

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