This meticulously researched monograph makes important historiographic contributions that belie its modest scope. Schell focuses on municipal and especially state and church education in Mexico City during the nine years following the promulgation of the Constitution of 1917. All three school systems sought to educate, “moralize,” and “sanitize” the working class. Schell writes, “Since the goals of the [Catholic] social action movement and the social goals of the revolution overlapped, the church presented a serious political and cultural threat to the revolutionary state-in-formation” (p. 14). Conflict came in 1926 largely because the Catholic laity had been so successful at addressing the “social question.”

Taken as a whole, this book adds much-needed nuance to discussions of church-state relations during this critical period (1917–26). Even after José Vasconcelos created the Ministry of Public Education (SEP) in 1921, the state did not enforce the anticlerical articles...

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