Photograph collection on Pancho Villa

Finding aid prepared by Julianna Gil, 2017.
Special Collections & University Archives
The UCR Library
P.O. Box 5900
University of California
Riverside, California 92517-5900
Phone: 951-827-3233
Fax: 951-827-4673
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Photograph collection on Pancho Villa
Date (inclusive): 1913-1934
Collection Number: MS 033
Extent: 0.54 Linear Feet (1 photograph album, 1 box)
Repository: Rivera Library. Special Collections Department.
Riverside, CA 92517-5900
Abstract: The collection consists mainly of photographs of Francisco “Pancho” Villa, a Mexican Revolutionary general and prominent figure during the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century. Photographs in the collection include portraits of Villa, Villa with his troops and other military figures, Villa's murder in 1923, and photographs of Villa’s family.
Languages: The collection is in English and Spanish.


This collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the University of California, Riverside Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Distinctive Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Regents of the University of California as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Preferred Citation

[identification of item], [date if possible]. Photograph collection on Pancho Villa (MS 033). Special Collections & University Archives, University of California, Riverside.

Processing History

Processed by Julianna Gil, 2017.
Processing of the Photograph collection on Pancho Villa was completed by undergraduate students from the University of California, Riverside as part of the Special Collections & University Archives Backlog Processing Project started in 2015. This project was funded by the UCR Library and administered by Jessica Geiser, Collections Management Librarian.

Biographical Note

Francisco “Pancho” Villa, was born José Doroteo Arango Arámbula on June 5th, 1878, in Durango, Mexico. By the early 20th century Villa had become a member of a band of bandits, and in 1902, after he was arrested for theft and assault he was forcibly inducted into the Federal Army as punishment. He deserted, and in 1903 began to be known as Francisco “Pancho” Villa.
In 1910 he was convinced to cease his illegal pursuits by Abraham González, then a representative for presidential candidate Francisco Madero. When Madero called for revolutionary action after President Porfirio Díaz arrested him and staged fraudulent elections, Villa joined his cause and began capturing territory and fighting Federal Army soldiers. In 1911, Díaz resigned after a series of defeats, including the first Battle of Ciudad Juárez, won by Villa and Pascual Orozco, and Madero took power.
In 1912, Orozco began a new rebellion after Madero failed to follow on his revolutionary promises, but Villa remained loyal to Madero and returned to military service to fight against Orozco with General Victoriano Huerta. Huerta initially welcomed Villa, but soon accused Villa of theft and ordered his execution. Appeals to Madero’s brothers saved Villa’s life, but he remained imprisoned until he escaped on Christmas Day 1912. In Februrary of 1913, Madero was murdered as part of a coup d'état, and Victoriano Huerta became president.
Villa then joined others opposed to Huerta, including Venustiano Carranza, Pablo González and Álvaro Obregón in a movement collectively called the Ejército Constitucionalista de México (Constitutionalist Army of Mexico). From 1913-1914, Villa gained international fame through coverage of his military successes, which were filmed by Hollywood filmmakers and studied by the United States Army. He was also well known for his fund raising methods, which included robbing trains, printing his own currency, and appropriating land and money from hacienda owners. In 1913 Villa was elected as provisional governor of the state of Chihuahua, and he created a large army known as the Division del Norte, which was the most powerful military unit in Mexico.
In 1914, in addition to numerous other battles, his forces fought in what is known as the Toma de Zacatecas, the single bloodiest battle in the Revolution and what ultimately led to Huerta fleeing the country in 1914. Venustiano Carranza soon assumed the presidency, and fearing he would impose a dictatorship Villa joined military general Emiliano Zapata against Carranza. Villa’s forces fought numerous battles but after suffering a series of defeats against General Álvaro Obregón, he was forced to retreat. In 1916 Villa ordered a raid on Columbus, New Mexico, where his men seized U.S. military supplies and burned the town. This led the American President Woodrow Wilson to send 5000 U.S. troops into Mexico on a man hunt for Villa, which ultimately proved unsuccessful. Villa continued to lead guerilla forces in Chihuahua, until Carranza was assassinated in 1920. Villa used this opportunity to seek amnesty from interim president Adolfo de la Huerta, and in exchange for his to end hostilities Villa was given a hacienda in Chihuahua for his family and loyal guerrilla troops.
On July 20, 1923, Villa was visiting the city of Parral to run some errands, when his car was attacked by seven rifleman who fired more than 40 shots into the car. Villa died instantly, thought to be the victim of a conspiracy to keep him from reentering the political scene. He was survived by multiple wives and children, as he married several women without ever seeking a divorce or annulment. Villa remains a legendary figure in popular culture, seen as a modern day Robin Hood and depicted in films and literature throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Collection Scope and Contents

The collection consists of around 80 photographs related to Francisco “Pancho” Villa, a Mexican Revolutionary general and prominent figure during the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century. Photographs in the collection include portraits of Villa, Villa with his troops and other military figures including Rodolfo Fierro, Felipe Angeles, and U.S. General John J. Pershing, Villa after his murder in 1923, and photographs of Villa’s family. Items in the collection are mostly from various photo and news agencies, and include their supplied captions. The collection also includes three prints of drawings of Villa and his men by artist Wallace Smith, and a copy of a written statement from Villa about the United States written in 1920.

Separated Materials

A biography, Life of Villa The Mexican Bandit: The Greatest Man Hunt on Record , was separated for cataloging in Special Collections & University Archives.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Mexico--History--Revolution, 1910-1920.
Smith, Wallace, 1888-1937
Villa, Pancho, 1878-1923

Genres and Forms of Materials

Clippings (information artifacts).
Drawings (visual works).