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New Book Presents 150 Images Captured by the First Female Photographer of Mexican Revolution
Maderista chiefs that took over Teloloapan on April 26, 1911. Photo: Castrejón Family Archive.

MEXICO CITY.- According to the census of 1910, there were 14 female photographers in Mexico; from them, we only conserve photographs captured by Sara Castrejon, from Guerrero, between 1908 and mid fifties. These images reflect social, economic and political situation during the first half of 20th century, as well as Revolution in Teloloapan, Guerrero. Anthropologist Samuel Villela affirms Sara Castrejon was the first woman to take pictures of the armed movement in Mexico.

This is the theme of the book Sara Castrejon. Fotografa de la Revolucion, edited by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH-Conaculta) and recently presented at Centro de la Imagen by Rebeca Monroy, researcher at the Direction of Historical Studies (Direccion de Estudios Historicos, INAH/DEH); Jesus Guzman, historian at National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and the image specialist John Mraz.

The book is the result of 8 years of research conducted by ethno historian Samuel Villela, where relatives and friends’ testimonies, documents and 150 images of portraits and landscapes, reflect the career of the first woman to portrait Mexican Revolution, capturing armies that crossed Teloloapan, Guerrero, followers of Madero, Huerta, Zapata and Carranza.

Sara Castrejon captured revealing moments of the history of the Mexican State of Guerrero, as the uprising of Madero in November 1911, headed by Zapatist Jesus H. Salgado.

Villela, researcher at the INAH Direction of Ethnology and Social Anthropology, mentioned that images captured by Castrejon go back to the Pre Revolution – the earliest picture is dated in 1908 -, a portrait of businessman Florencio M. Salgado-, covers the Revolution in Teloloapan, Guerrero, and the Post Revolution up to 1959, departing in 1962.

The book Sara Castrejon. Fotografa de la Revolucion is integrated by 4 chapters related to the social, economic and political context of this Guerrero community, personal and family life of Sara Castrejon, her work as a photographer of the Revolutionary movement, and the period that followed the Revolution.

“Sara Castrejon (1888-1962) – commented Villela- was part of a well-off family in the economic aspect, allowing her to study in Mexico City in 1905, probably at the School of Arts and Crafts for Women, or at the studio of a renown photographer.

“Upon her return to Guerrero in 1908, she opened a studio in Teloloapan and began her career making postcards and photographing landscapes and social events; in 1911 began the armed movement in the south of Mexico and her first picture was the Taking of Teloloapan Plaza, in April 26th 1911, by Madero’s army” described Villela.

“For the first time, graphic history of Guerrero is published through photographs of an unusual character due to her gender, who captured the history of her community allowing us to know it a hundred years later”, declared historian Rebeca Monroy.

The INAH/DEH researcher acknowledged the work of Samuel Villela as “one of the few scholars that deepen into regional history of Mexican photography, with a gender perspective at the same time”.

Monroy emphasized 2 photographs among the 91 included in the book: “the first one is a portrait of Colonel Amparo Salgado, taken in 1911, with her cartridge belts and her rifle, as an example of participation of females during Mexican Revolution”.

The second image is the one selected for the cover, taken in 1912, which shows a contingent of federal soldiers, known as Los Fronterizos, from Durango, who got to Guerrero by orders of President Madero to stifle the rebellion of Jesus H. Salgado, leader in the Mexican state.

“Her peculiar photographic style, putting tree branches on the floor, ribbons under the tables and flowers held by models, constituted a feminine iconography”, declared Rebeca Monroy.

Historian Jesus Guzman, from the UNAM, remarked that work of Villela rescues the value of photography as an auxiliary tool of history, allowing its remembrance and study.

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