Researching In The Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico City

Researching In The Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico City

Last updated: 11/16/2015

Most scholars doing historical research of any sort in Mexico will likely have to stop in the Archivo General de la Nacion at least once. The AGN  is located in the delegación Venustiano Carranza. If you are lost and looking for the archive, asking for the Palacio de Lecumberri is a better option, since more people know where that is.

Consultation Hours:

9AM-4:45PM, M-F

Technically the galerias are open until 5PM, but most will ask you to return your documents at 4:45PM.

How to get there:

What You Need to Register:

  • A reference letter (typically your adviser or institution)
  • An ID (drivers license works but I would use a passport because that WI make things go smoother)
  • Fill out an application provided by the AGN
  • An idea of what you want to see in the archive. The application will ask what your research topic is, and what you want to see, if you don’t have an answer for the either of these, the staff will ask you to look on the database and find some things. A good place to start is by checking the AGN’s online search guide. Keep in mind the online search guide is not definitive and you will want to also poke around in “Archidoc” once you get to the AGN. Archidoc is only available on site.
  • The first time you go to the AGN, you will have to go to the centro de referencia. Here you will have to submit and fill-out the items listed above.

What You Need to Consult Documents:

  • Your archival research kit
  • A recommend bringing headphones.
    • Archives can be very noisy, from camera shutters to chatting. In order to avoid any issues I simply wear headphones and listen to music. I find this makes the time go by quicker as well.

Consultation/ Image Reproduction

  • Transcribing
    • You can either type your transcriptions on a laptop, or write them down on loose pieces of paper.
  •  Photographs
    • The AGN allows you to photograph documents for free.  You can consult most documents in the AGN as long as they are not in restoration, and they have not been previously digitized.
  • Digitizing
    • You can pay  to have a document digitized. This is the price break down:
      • 100 MXN per foja for 300 dpi scans
      • 180 MXN per foja for 600 dpi scans
    • If the item you wish to consult has already been digitized, you can request printouts for 10 pesos per page. This is much cheaper than digitizing.
    • NOTE: If an item has been digitized, you will not be allowed to consult the original unless you appeal. The appeals process takes a week or so, and is a hassle. The most common option is consulting the document on ARCHIDOC in the AGN (free), getting prints (see above), or paying for pdf reproductions (see above).

The Daily Grind at the AGN:

  • When you first enter the AGN, you will have to make quick right and get a locker. You are not allowed to take anything past this point except a laptop/tablet, cellphone, camera, loose leafs of paper, and a bottle of water. You are also allowed to use a clear bag to carry your items in and out of the galleries. You cannot enter with a tripod or cases for you laptop, cellphone, camera, or tablet. You will have to leave your backpack in a locker that will be assigned to you. When I started going to the AGN you had to leave a 20 MXN deposit for the key, now you leave your ID.
  • Once you get past the locker section, you will get to a main security desk. Here you will have to register any large electronics (e.g., digital camera, or laptop) that you take into the AGN. On the way out, you will have to sign out at this very same location.
  • Assuming you are registered and have an investigator ID, you can head over to the gallery that you wish to visit. Every gallery has a guard right inside of its entrance, they will ask for you investigator ID, and provenance. Then you will be free to investigate.
  • The AGN’s collection is divided into various viewing rooms, called galerias. I will update this post soon with a full list of what each galeria contains.



Where to eat:

  • The AGN has a cafeteria for its employees that it opens to researchers as well. The cost is 50 MXN.
  • Bring lunch
  • Eat in a fonda nearby. There a couple of restaurants nearby, depending on how safe you feel in the area, you might want to poke around.

Always be aware of your surroundings at all times and try to keep valuables tucked away. There have been reports of muggings and such from San Lazaro to the AGN and in the park behind the AGN. Generally the AGN area is safe, but you should be careful. I would stay away from the AGN area early in the morning, or at night. Definitely avoid staying in housing or hotels near the AGN, unless you will be staying with family or friends.

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