The Archivo General de la Nación de México (Mexican general archives) is celebrating its 225th anniversary.
On April 28th, 1792, King Charles IV gave the order to create the Archivo General in order to keep “the most precious and interesting news” of this land; on July 14th, 1792, that order arrived to New Spain.
Located in the ancient Palacio Negro de Lecumberri, the building was designed by the architect Antonio Torres Torija, based on the ideas of the English philosopher, Jeremías Bentham. It was inaugurated on September 29th, 1900; nowadays, it is considered a National Historic Monument. During its first 75 years it operated as the prison of the capital city; it did so until May 26, 1977, when it was turned into the Mexican general archives by presidential decree. The redevelopment of the building lasted five years and was a work headed by Jorge L. Medellín.
The AGN keeps the core documents of the Mexican State and its historic records. The preserved files come from government institutions and private organizations, from the New Spain administration to the National Period that began in 1821. The collection has 375 million pages, which have an extent of 52 kilometres. Its oldest records date back to the third decade of the XVI century and they go until year 2012. The kept documents allow us to recreate Mexican history, and some of them, due to their international importance, belong to the collection known as UNESCO’s Memory of the World.
These are some of the most important documents that you can consult in the AGN:
- Various documents signed by Hernán Cortés (XVI century).
- Marquesado del Valle Codex (XVI century).
- Techialoyan de Cuajimalpa Codex(XVII century).
- Mexican Independence Act (1821).
- Constitution of Cádiz (1812); Constitution of Apatzingán (1814); Constitution of 1824; Constitution of 1857 and Constitution of 1917.
- Sentimientos de la Nación by José María Morelos y Pavón (1813).
- Letters exchanged between Emiliano Zapata and Francisco Villa.
- Presidential Archives (from Francisco I. Madero until Felipe Calderón Hinojosa).
The AGN’s document collection also includes: maps, layouts, drawings, audio records, videos and photos.
It has a photography collection with almost 5 million elements (from the end of XIX century until the present), which makes it one of the biggest photo libraries in the country. The photographic collection of the Mayo Brothers; Díaz, Delgado y García; and Ignacio Avilés stand out from it; these collections allow us to visually immerse ourselves in the Mexico of the XX century and also offer an approach to the multiple photographic techniques that have been used in the country.
The Edificio de Laboratorios (laboratorios building) can be found in a new building, constructed during 2012 and 2013. It is 6 000 square metres and is equipped with the most sophisticated tools in the field. It was designed for the study, research and safeguard of the document heritage of Mexico. This building is has spaces meant for the process of: restoration and maintenance of document and visual collections; reprography and automation; classification, description and investigation.
In 2016, the historic collection was moved to a new building just beside the actual location; this place is actually under construction and has the optimal conditions for better preservation of the document heritage of Mexico. Likewise, this will increase its holding capacity, expanding from 52 to150 linear kilometers; it saves more energy; it uses natural lighting; it does not allow the building to overheat due to the location and design of its spaces; it also produces energy with photovoltaic cells and recycles wastewater.
The AGN also has a role as a governing body of archival issues in Mexico and aims to increase and disseminate the document heritage of this country, to promote the organisation of updated administrative archives in order to preserve the national memory in the short, medium and long term, and in order to support transparency and accountability of actions taken by government and public bodies.
Archivo Histórico Central Directorate/Department
- Document Collection Consultation.
- Reference Centre.
- Certifications and transcripts.
- Library and newspaper library.
- Registration of researchers.
- Assistance for academic groups.
Sistema Nacional de Archivos Directorate/Department
- Dictation of the documents of the Administración Pública Federal (Federal Public Administration).
- Archival training for the Administración Pública Federal (APF).
- Archival Consulting to the APF.
- Validation and recording of document available catalogues for the APF.
Publishing and Dissemination Directorate/Department
- Authorisation to publish documents and images safeguarded by the AGN.
- Guided visits.
- Temporary and permanent exhibition.
- Online consultation.
Ing. Eduardo Molina 113 (Access in the Héroe de Nacozari street), Colonia Penitenciaría, Delegación Venustiano Carranza, 15280, Mexico City. Phone: (01) (55) 5133 – 9900.
Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. 4 p.m. Free Parking.
Bus (Metrobus): Archivo General de la Nación Station, lines 4 and 5.
Subway (Metro): San Lázaro Station.