I have a post for long-term research in Mexico on a Fulbright, and I imagine it might be useful to some if I posted information regarding a short-term trip. My experience is in Spain and Mexico in historical archives, but I imagine that this information might help people going to the same countries doing non-historical research and perhaps for people going to other countries as well.
You essentially do not need a visa for short trips if you do not plan on being employed.
One letter of introduction per archive. I always show up with an original on letterhead.
Passport (original and a copy)
Driver’s license and university ID (I would suggest that you always bring these to the archive)
USB Flash drive or external HDD. You never know who you might bump into and they might offer catalogs, photos of documents, search guides, or other things of interest.
Business cards. Again, you never know who you might see and you might want to hand out a few cards
Laptop with charger
Cellphone charger or power bank
In sum, it is relatively simple to get into archives as long as you have a rough idea of what you are looking for and the proper documentation to get access. Short trips are great because you do not need a visa, which saves you time and money.
I recently added a new piece to my archival kit, which I will share with you here, so we can geek out together. A few people in the archive have noticed my new toy, and after trying it out they usually fall in love. Yet, as a proud archive rat I realize that most people, including my loved ones, do not care about archival documents nor my archival toys.
The item in question is a foldable 5X magnifying glass. The great thing about this glass is that you can place it on the document, right where you want, and show someone else what you want them to inspect. This means that you can also leave it on a page, write something down, and return to your magnification without skipping a beat. This is very helpful when you are looking at a very dense document. Another thing I love about this glass is its clarity, you can see very fine detail in the ink and the pen strokes that were used. This was particularly useful for me recently when I was trying to match the writing of an anonymous letter to an individual that seemed to be a match.
Foldability, yet another great feature that this glass boasts. You can fold it up, and stick in its pouch and it takes up very little room. I still carry my pocket magnifying glass in my kit, because I do find that they can both be useful, but more and more I find myself going for the foldable. Also, not all archives will let you place a magnifying glass on the actual documents, thus having both can be helpful.
The AHAM is located in Roma Norte and is very easy to access, and when your done, you’re in ROMA NORTE! Their collection includes documents from the sixteenth century until the present, and houses mostly documents that were created within the archdiocese of Mexico that do not have to do with the day-to-day business of the Cathedral, those documents are likely to be found in the Cabildo Archive.
The address is: Calle Durango #90 First Floor, Cuahtehmoc, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico
Be careful as of 3/8/2016 Google Maps shows the AHAM about a block and half from where it should be. Search the address instead, like the map below.
9AM to 3PM, M-F
How to arrive:
Here is a big helpful tip, if you get lost, ask for the Plaza Rio de Janiero or the Arquidiocesis Primada de México, or worst case scenario the Glorieta Insurgentes, more people are likely to know where that is.
There are four main ways to get to the AHAM:
Metro and Metrobus: The Metro Insurgentes stop is your best bet. Once you are in the glorieta insurgentes you will exit south on the walkway that leads to Jalapa. Walk past Puebla and make a left on Durango. Walk through the Plaza Rio de Janiero and once you are on the Durango once more look for #90 which will be near the corner with Cordoba.
Ecobici, there is an ecobici station about one block away from the AHAM.
Taxi or UBER: like always this will be the most expensive option. Ask for the Plaza Rio de Janiero or the Arquidiocesis Primada de México
Consultation/ Image Reproduction
You can either type your transcriptions on a laptop, or write them down on paper.
Photography and Reproduction
You can take digital pictures of images for 1 MXN per picture. You can also obtain digital reproductions (scanned) for the price of 1 MXN per image. Due to the fact that there is poor lighting in the consultation area, I would go with the scanned copies.
What You Need to Register:
Letter of Introduction (typically from your adviser)
Government issued Identification Card (you will leave this at the front desk when you first enter)
The AHAM is located in a fantastic place in terms of safety and food. Usually when I go I just snack and work until they close. However, you will be able to find a bunch of great places to eat by just walking a couple blocks or taking an ecobici.
We all know the story, you walk into a library, coffee shop, or archive to be productive. You sit down, put your work in front of you and get to it. Once you are 5 minutes into your task some cool kid decides to listen to his headphones at maximum volume. Perhaps you are two pages into a dense book and another cool kid decides that a quiet library is great place to make a phone call. Although library/archive etiquette is a topic for another post, this entry will provide an answer to the aforementioned issues.
I have been in search for the perfect pair of headphones since I started graduate school. This process will be very personal since it will depend on what you like and what you are looking for in headphones. I suggest you look for earphones that isolate sound, this will keep outside sound out, and not require you to blast your music (which could create noise for others and damage your hearing). I personally dislike over-the-ear headphones because in certain conditions they make my ears hot, and they are less discreet and less compact. I can toss a pair of in-ear headphones into my pocket or backpack and grab them when I need them.
Earphones are particularly important in archives. Archivists and security guards will definitely talk and sometimes even play music. Other investigators might also find the need to engage in conversations, not always quietly. Even if everyone is silent, there is always someone using a cellphone or point-and-shoot to take pictures and they forget (or neglect) to turn off the shutter sound. Instead of confronting anyone or being distracted by ambient noise, pop some earphones in and enjoy some of your favorite music or increase your concentration with white noise.
I have found a set of headphones that work very well for me. I’ve tried monster, bose (over ear and in ear), Street by 50 cent and a plethora of cheaper options. I found that the popular name brands are typically selling you the brand and lack a clean sound and comfortable fit. A couple years ago I came across thinksound ts02s and I fell in love. While they are expensive, they isolate sound very well and provide amazing sound. They are inconspicuous and last a long time if you take care of them. I typically use a cheap set of earbuds when I go jogging (in safe areas without traffic) in order to preserve my thinksounds. I’m a poor graduate student and can’t afford to drop money on these buds every month.
Wear whatever you want, but make sure you use something. When I have forgotten my earphones in the archive, I find myself getting frustrated and even annoyed with the noise. Just make sure that you don’t dance impromptu when one of your favorite songs comes on.
This post will go over some tips that will help you keep in touch with your contacts and loved ones in Mexico and the United States. Without a doubt, this a great time to travel abroad for extended periods because there is much more technology that makes communicating easier and cheaper. A person once told me that when she studied abroad for a year in France in the 60s she felt like she “jumped off the edge of the earth.” She stated that she phoned her parents rarely because it was so expensive, and she never saw them until she returned because flights were prohibitive. Sending letters by post was cheaper, but took weeks.
Luckily, things have changed and advancements in technology make it easier and almost free to communicate with family. …
Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions in this post and website our mine, not those of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program or Institute of International Education.
Although I will be in Mexico during my Fulbright grant, this post might help others traveling to different parts of the world for extended research trips.
Things to keep in mind:
You will need a passport to travel. This may seem obvious, but it is something that can easily be overlooked and become a bigger deal than it has to be. Keep in mind that getting a passport can take up to a month, so plan well in advance. Make sure that your passport is up to date and will not expire when you are abroad. For more US passport information visit this site.