Preserving and Revealing Tijuana’s Past Thanks to an NEH Grant

April 18, 2024
IMAC and SDSU folks
The faculty and staff of IMAC and SDSU celebrate their collaboration

San Diego State University (SDSU) has been awarded a Humanities Collections and References Resources Grant for $336,762 by the National Endowment for the Humanitiesfor its project, “Preserving and Revealing Tijuana’s Past.” Continuing their collaboration with the City of Tijuana’s Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura (IMAC), a team of experts from the SDSU Library, led by Head of Digital Collections Lisa Lamont, and the SDSU Center for Regional Sustainability will organize, digitize, and make accessible more than 50,000 photographs, slides, maps, and related materials currently held in the Archivo Histórico de Tijuana. This NEH implementation grant will build on the foundational work conducted by SDSU and IMAC as part of a pilot project funded in 2022 by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Modern Endangered Archives Program

Tijuana and San Diego together form a vibrant, bi-national community distinguished by cultural engagement among U.S. and Mexican nationals, and among the Indigenous communities that have made this region their home for thousands of years. The holdings of the Archivo Histórico document the complex society, culture, and politics of a unique border region, as well as the evolution of the City of Tijuana throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Collaboration between SDSU and IMAC will preserve and promote greater access to primary source materials that may be of value to students and scholars in fields such as history, political science, anthropology, urban planning, Latin American studies, and border studies. “This significant award enables us to continue a collaboration that enriches our social science and humanities scholarship as well as to have an impact on the cross-regional efforts that are crucial in building strong ties between our university and the community,” said Ronnee Schreiber, Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

“Partnerships of this type between SDSU and cultural heritage organizations in Mexico are a critical component of the university’s strategic plan, especially its commitment to developing and sustaining programs distinctive of a public research university that is also a Hispanic-Serving Institution,” said Scott Walter, Dean of the University Library.

The University Library’s collaboration with IMAC on the “Preserving and Revealing Tijuana’s Past” initiative is part of a broader program of engagement with cultural heritage organizations in Mexico being launched as part of the SDSU Center for Mesoamerican Studies in Oaxaca, Mexico. Among the complementary programs being pursued in Oaxaca is one focused on the digitization of Indigenous language materials held in the Biblioteca de Investigación Juan de Córdova.

 “As a proud transborder university and Hispanic-Serving Institution, SDSU embraces our collaboration with IMAC and our role in studying, promoting and preserving this region’s rich history,” said SDSU president Adela de la Torre. “Access to these important materials is vital not only to our scholarship in San Diego, Imperial Valley and Oaxaca, but also to global understanding that goes far beyond our university.” 

Previously digitized materials for both projects in both Tijuana and Oaxaca can be found in the library's Digital Collections and a recent SDSU NewsCenter story featured a video of the project. Be sure to visit the collection to see the exciting work already completed for this ongoing project.

Traditional parade on Calle Benito Juárez
From the Archivo Histórico de Tijuana: Colección Jaime Ortega: 

A contingent of schoolgirls from the 10 de Mayo school marches in a patriotic parade on Calle Benito Juárez 2da. The scene may be located at the corner with Avenida Constitución. Crowds line the streets, restrained by police.
Bridal party of Elena Barrón de la Paz
From Archivo Histórico de Tijuana: Colección Aída Barrón de La Paz: 

Portrait of bride Elena Barrón de La Paz, with her four bridesmaids standing behind her in 1928. This digital image was created from a photocopy of a photographic print.
Two men with tubas sit in the stands of a bullfighting arena with other spectators
From Archivo Histórico de Tijuana: Plaza de toros:

At a bullfighting arena, two men with tubas watch the bull fight. The ring is lined with advertisements including those for Tecate.

About The National Endowment For The Humanities

The “Preserving and Revealing Tijuana’s Past” project is being made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at

Categorized As