Baron Alexander von Humboldt occasionally made a mistake. In the 1803 edition of Ensayo político, he lamented that the Revillagigedo census of 1793 had never been completed for the Intendency of Guadalajara.1 Fortunately, he was wrong. Although it is true that the official returns from Guadalajara came in so late and so riddled with minor errors that its compiler earned a reprimand from his superior, the census indeed had been taken and arrived in Spain in the fall of 1793. The statistical data were organized by marital status, age, and sex, and then summarized under two headings: “Distinción de castas” and “Distinción de clases.”2

Modern-day historians have differed sharply over those very terms, debating whether, by the late colonial era, economic class had super seded the sistema de castas as the more important agent of social status, wealth, and economic opportunity. Representing the traditional or “estate” interpretation, Lyle McAlister’s influential 1963 HAHR article maintained that an individual’s “placement in society did not derive ultimately from economic function but from ethnic and cultural qualities recognized in law.”3 Among the better known of McAlister’s colleagues on this issues is Swedish historian Magnus Mörner.4 In his major work, Race Mixture in the History of Latin America, Mörner equated race with specific economic roles. Peninsulars, he suggested, were the bureaucrats and merchants, creoles the large landowners, mestizos the artisans and petty traders, mulattos the urban manual workers, and the Indians were the peasants and various kinds of unskilled laborers.5 Belatedly, Mörner has incorporated economic factors into his analysis but concludes that European capitalism “came too late to influence to any considerable degree the economy, and consequently the society, of Spanish America before the Wars of Independence.”6

The estate position has recently undergone challenge. Battling over the longstanding controversy as to when capitalism overcame Spanish “feudalism,” many historians have concluded that capitalist enterprise dominated much of the empire’s economic relations by the end of the colonial era.7 While the ascendency of capitalism does not automatically doom a racially ordered social structure (witness contemporary South Africa), it would have created many conditions in which the sistema de castas was irrelevant or a positive burden. Various studies, for example, have uncovered a common pattern of creole-peninsular marriages and cooperative business ventures, even though each belonged to different strata in the estate system.8

Even more significantly, historians such as Dennis Valdes, John Chance, and William Taylor, working in local census and parish records, have discovered large numbers of “working-class” Spanish commoners and surprising numbers of interracial marriages.9 Several scholars have even concluded that European capitalism had so profoundly altered the social relations of work in New Spain that, as Valdes maintained, “class factors had superseded racial ones as the primary indicators of socioeconomic status” by the middle of the eighteenth century.10

Such bold revisionism drew immediate fire. Defenders of the estate position maintained that the presence of great numbers of creoles working in low-status occupations could be explained as the logical proportion which one might expect, given the large number of creoles in the population. More sophisticated statistical models, they argued, actually showed a “moderately strong relationship” between race and occupation, and the same was true, they said, for interracial marriage, proving that race continued to play a major role in important behavior patterns.11

Patricia Seed entered the fray with her 1982 HAHR article on the 1753 Mexico City census. Although she disavowed any intention of debating the estate-class issue, Seed leveled criticism at both sides, charging that the dispute centered on degrees and techniques, sidetracking more fundamental issues and losing sight of the “social totality.” Nonetheless, her analysis of the division of labor found that Mexico City creoles in 1753 were, in fact, underrepresented among the city’s artisans and over-represented among the shopowners and the elite, reflecting the original dominant position of their “parent” group, the peninsulares.12

This study will offer an alternative approach to the controversy. The original impetus for this article came from an old suspicion that long before the railroads restructured the social landscape of Mexico many urban crafts had already fallen under the domination of merchant capitalists, perhaps as early as the late eighteenth century in some areas. If this were true, then the relevant question to be looked at in the estate-class controversy would not be whether economic class had replaced the estate system by independence, but whether the economic and social stratification of Mexican society in 1821 can best be understood as a product of colonial racial policy or as the result of economic changes accompanying the rise of early commercial capitalism. I take the position that the latter is the case.

The emphasis on stratification is deliberate, and central to the argument I wish to present. Stratification is the ranking of individuals by strata within the social structure, that is by race, occupation, income, and the like. Class is “an analytic category with which the social structure is defined.”13 For my purpose, stratification is more useful than class. Concentrating on the former, we will be able to compare the social characteristics of the various races (and subcategories within those races), while bypassing the thorny theoretical issues inherent in a discussion of class.14 While other studies have measured stratification (although professing to analyze class), two fundamental and ultimately unresolved defects mar their efforts.

One major flaw is the scarcity of Indian population data for the late colonial period.15 Seed and Valdes conducted their studies of 1753 Mexico City all too aware that the census takers had counted only a portion of the city’s Indian population.16 Those scholars who used the military census of 1791 (Brading, Chance and Taylor, and Wu) were not even as fortunate, for Indians were not subject to military service and therefore were excluded from the census.17

Potentially more damaging, previous studies invariably lump all Spaniards together, thereby dampening any similarities between low-status, “working-class” creoles and Indians and castas with whom they might have shared common socioeconomic characteristics. I contend here that when those individuals labeled “Spaniards” by the census takers are segregated by social status criteria, low-status Spaniards are virtually indistinguishable from the city’s Indian and casta residents in every significant social and economic category.

This study is based on a census taken in the fall of 1821 for the city of Guadalajara, capital of the newly liberated province of Nueva Galicia.18 The ward or cuartel bosses (alcaldes) were admonished to take a “punctual and exact …census” of all their constituents’ age, calidad, and occupation.19Calidad was synonymous with race, but implied a social definition of one’s “color, occupation, and wealth.”20

Unfortunately, the data are not complete. Despite the official request, only half of the 24 wards (cuarteles) included race in their returns.21 Since those cuarteles were not randomly selected, to what extent were they representative of the city at large? They were, first of all, exceptionally well dispersed throughout the city (see map).22 Moreover, a comparison of those cuarteles which supplied racial data with those that did not indicates significant similarity in a wide variety of categories. For example, the percent of heads of households awarded the don or doña was nearly identical (31 percent compared to 30 percent in cuarteles without race). As the don and doña were the near monopoly of the city’s Spaniards (whether American born, i.e., criollos, or European, i.e., peninsulares), it is the one piece of estate data common to both sets of cuarteles. In another test, the occupational structure of the dons in both sets of data was similar. Using a sample of the two sets of cuarteles, the same can be said for the sex ratio, marital status, and a variety of other measurements.23 The most favorable factor, however, as with any population sample, is the large number of persons involved, 17,737 or 47 percent of the city’s 38,064 residents. In effect, therefore, if not by design, our evidence constitutes a representative sample of the city.

The census found that slightly less than half the city’s population was Spanish, approximately 40 percent were Indians, and 10 percent were mestizos (see Table 1). A small scattering of mulattos and coyotes was encountered, along with an even smaller number of castizos and negros. No distinction was made in our full count between criollos and peninsulares. In the sample taken of the entire city, however, less than 1 percent of all heads of households and 1.3 percent of all individuals who gave a place of birth listed a country outside of Mexico (mainly Spain).24

Besides its generosity on race, the census provided a particularly useful piece of evidence on social status, the honorific hidalguía—the don or doña.25 Of the city’s 24 cuarteles, only cuartel 24’s alcalde honored all his constituents with the title, a practice which became universal by the middle of the century. The hidalguía will make possible the identification of the structure of prestige, or social status, within the city’s Spanish population, and permit the comparison of the large group of Spanish commoners who did not receive the title with their Indian and casta colleagues.

In its medieval origins, the hidalguía distinguished nobles from commoners. It was, therefore, a specific indicator of class, separating “those who fought” from “those who worked.” Nonetheless, in the face of the New World’s conquered millions, to be Spanish alone was a form of automatic ennoblement, some historians believe. Mörner asserts that by the eighteenth century “being recognized as a Spaniard’ was tantamount to becoming hidalgo.”26 Yet in 1821, Guadalajara census takers declined to award the hidalguía to nearly half of the city’s Spanish residents. The obvious question is whether the hidalguía was based on commonly accepted and reasonably consistent social criteria or whether it was arbitrarily assigned according to the diverse opinions of the different alcaldes. In order to test the consistency with which the latter awarded the hidalguía, 606 individual Spanish heads of household listed in the 1821 census were traced by name to one other source compiled by a different alcalde or public official. In a remarkable nine out of ten cases, the two separate sources agreed as to whether the individual deserved the don or doña.27

This study will first look at the development of Guadalajara’s colonial economy, describing the impact of commercial capitalism on the city’s division of labor. It is this section which sets the stage for the subsequent quantitative issues: Guadalajara’s marriage patterns, size of households, family structure, place of residence, and socio-occupational status.

The city of Guadalajara was founded in 1532 by Captain Juan de Oñate acting under orders of the infamous Beltrán Nuño de Guzmán. After several moves, in 1541 it was permanently located on its present site in the valley of Atemajac. Physically restrained from expanding to the north by the enormous canyon carved by the Río Grande de Santiago and lacking abundant sources of potable water, Guadalajara grew slowly over its first two hundred years. As late as 1760, a clerical census found no more than 11,294 inhabitants.28 By 1793, however, the city’s population had doubled, and it grew faster than all major Mexican cities in the subsequent 30 years.29 It was in the midst of the population explosion after 1760 that capitalist enterprise made its appearance in Guadalajara.

In the city’s hinterland, a rural propertied class, with family and business ties to urban Guadalajara, eagerly vied for capital to expand its holdings. In the process, the region’s large-scale producers increasingly commercialized their lands at the expense of the small producers, making a particularly successful effort to monopolize the city’s burgeoning grain market.30 Aided by income from the profitable Bolaños silver mine, from the region’s active grain and cattle markets, and from its role as western Mexico’s premier administrative and ecclesiastical center, Guadalajara had become one of Mexico’s major cities by 1821, second only to Puebla in size of all the provincial capitals. The census that year recorded nearly 40,000 inhabitants. One of the New World’s few merchant guilds directed an increasingly prosperous local economy, fueled by the millions of pesos poured into government and clerical construction projects. Migrants from surrounding areas flocked to Guadalajara, creating an abundant supply of skilled and unskilled labor. Even the disruption of the insurgency played its role. Fleeing unrest elsewhere in Spain’s colonial empire, well-heeled entrepreneurs contributed to the city’s capital resources.31

In time, structural readjustments accompanying Guadalajara’s growth wrought deep changes in the city’s craft economy. Large-scale merchants and merchant-masters employed as many as 50 wage-earning workers in tanning, milling, baking, and wax manufacture in a partially successful effort to dominate the local markets. From the other end of the production spectrum, small independent producers operating outside guild regulations increasingly clashed with such guild craftsmen as shoemakers, weavers, hatters, and tailors. The latter bitterly complained that these competitors sold their unlicensed goods “on the street corners or in their homes.”32

Guild shoemakers suffered ruinous competition from merchants whose shops frequently employed nonguild journeymen, or whose stores bought both from independent zapateros “de obra segunda y tercera clase” and from cottagers working out of their homes.33 The latter were increasingly dependent on the merchants for their raw materials, credit, and the distribution of the finished product. The desperate shoemaker guild wrote to the city government, charging that such stores “only try to buy cheap and sell for as much as they can get.”34

The subjugation of the craft economy without significant changes in production technology is a characteristic common to the early stages of Western commercial capitalism, and noted elsewhere in Latin America.35 Also common is the decline in skill levels of the artisan labor force, a process that had been underway for many years before 1821. In comparing the city’s Revillagigedo census of 1793 to the 1821 padrón, we find that the largest proportional increase in the numbers of persons employed relative to the total work force took place in the lesser-skilled, easy-access occupations of shoemaking, weaving, baking, carpentry, and bricklaying. At the same time, the proportion devoted to higher-skilled crafts declined, particularly tailors, barbers, saddlers, and hatters.36

Admittedly, in the more technical or traditional trades such as painting, blacksmithing, silversmithing, barbering, and tailoring the ratio of journeymen to masters appears to be five to one or better as late as 1821, far from the ten-to-one ratio considered standard for nineteenth-century industrial capitalism. However, between 1792 and 1821, the ratio increased for nearly all guild crafts, dramatically so in the case of weavers, tanners and saddlemakers, hatters, shoemakers, and carpenters.37 The numbers of journeymen increased, but the opportunities for making master, at least as defined by the guilds, did not.

We know that Guadalajara was economically in better condition than such cities as Querétaro, or San Miguel in the state of Guanajuato, whose large woolen obrajes had been hurt by foreign imports. Guadalajara’s important cotton textile industry, dominated by small shops and family producers utilizing traditional handloom technology, was as yet unaffected by foreign competition.38 Even here, however, the weavers (obrajeros) were a declining craft with a weak guild. A bare 2.5 percent of the city’s weavers were dons (although one-fourth were Spanish commoners), hardly more than the city’s shoemakers and a sure sign that the craft was in trouble.

By all appearances then, on the eve of the republican era, the effective ownership of the means of production was narrowing significantly for the majority of the city’s trades. None of this proves that class vanquished race, of course, but it does suggest that this is the arena in which the question should be posed: to search among the remnants of a battered craft economy for signs that capitalism had taken the first trenches in its march to victory.

Race and the Family

During the past several decades, family history has become a major field in Western scholarship, coinciding with popular, if exaggerated, concern for the fate of the family under the onslaught of modern society. Race and the family constitute an important topic among North American social historians, although perhaps overshadowed by their ongoing love affair with social mobility.39 The Latin American family attracted its own historians during the past decade, although race has been of less concern per se than kinship, family structure, and the general interest in the impact of modern dependent capitalism on family patterns.40

Marital Status

For those writers interested specifically in the race-class issue, a longstanding question has been: to what extent did persons marry outside their racial group? Both sides of the issue generally agree with Chance and Taylor that “choice of marriage partners is one of the best available indices of ethnic boundaries and may also be assumed to be related to socioeconomic status.”41 They claimed to have found extensive exogamous patterns in colonial Oaxaca. Others disputed their discovery, as noted earlier.42

In truth, I doubt very much that evidence on interracial marriages can provide an important comment on race or stratification in late imperial or early republican Mexico. Aside from the tendency for marriage recorders to “equalize” race between partners,43 in nearly all societies, the conservative resistance of marriage patterns to modification means that as an indicator of social change interracial marriage may be relatively insensitive to developments already obvious in other variables such as household structure, division of labor, or residence.

More significant, at least for our purposes, are intraracial patterns of marital status. Silvia Arrom’s major work on nineteenth-century Mexico City women uncovered important demographic differences between Spanish women on the one hand and Indian and casta women on the other, differences which Arrom equated with their cultural origins. Spanish women (and men) were far more likely to be single, for example, than were either Indians or castas of either sex, and they tended to marry later, following the European tradition. Arrom wrote that “the distinct marriage patterns found in the Spanish, Caste, and Indian sectors of Mexican society suggest that people of different racial backgrounds did not share a common ideology about the basic human institution of marriage.”44

If this were true for Guadalajara, one would expect no significant differences between don and non-don Spaniards. Yet once the don is used to divide the Spaniards, the demographic differences between non-don Spaniards and Indians-castas almost disappear. If we are to believe the data in Table II, non-don Spaniards more closely follow Indian-casta marriage patterns in nearly every age and marital category than they do higher-status Spaniards.

Exceptions are the young, and, to a certain extent, middle-age, single, non-don creoles (Table II). Perhaps one can argue that these are simply young Spaniards deprived of the don more for their youth than other considerations. In other words, the title could be awarded or withheld based as much on the individual’s stage in life as on any long-term indicator of socioeconomic status. Later in life, the individual does well, presumably because he has the advantage of Spanish heritage, marries, and assumes the don and its attendant status.45 Yet when comparing the far more numerous and therefore more statistically reliable married category, the younger, lower-status Spaniards are closer to both Indian and casta than they are to higher-status Spaniards, and they are even closer in the middle-age bracket. Moreover, by age 55 and over, the principle asserts itself plainly: only a higher-status Spaniard can afford to head a household as a single person. The exceptions are the widowed mestizos (age 55 and over) and mulattos (age 35-54), two categories which involve such small numbers (six and four respectively) as to make generalizing unreliable.

Size of Household

In family history, size of household is a common, if controversial, indicator of socioeconomic status. Popular images to the contrary, nearly all studies of preindustrial urban society find that larger households were generally wealthier households, and that smaller households tended to be poorer households.46

On the other hand, age of the head of household understandably plays a role in the potential size of household. One would expect, for example, that middle-aged men would tend to head larger households, with more children living at home and, perhaps, others living on the premises to take care of the needs of the expanded household. In other words, as considered earlier in the question of marital status, stages in one’s life course must be viewed as a potentially significant variable in any analysis of the dynamics of household structure.47 Unfortunately, few studies which analyze the estate/class issue have incorporated age into their findings.48 Admittedly, age of individuals taken from colonial census data is not always reliable.49 For our purpose, however, collapsing all ages into three “life cycle” age cohorts mitigates against the unreliability of the data.50

Two conclusions stand out. First, the dons tended to be older and to head larger (and as we shall see, more complex) households than non-don Spaniards, Indians, and mestizos (Table III), a verification of my thesis and of the general findings of investigators of family history. This tendency is highlighted and exaggerated among the city’s higher-status neighborhoods (Table IV).51 Interestingly, in the poorer barrios the gap between the dons and the other socioracial groups is reduced. The dons head slightly younger households and the other groups slightly more older households. Except for the rather large (6.5) household size for middle-age dons, little difference between dons and non-dons can be seen in household size in the poorer barrios. Perhaps what we have are younger don creoles living among Indians and castas in the poorer barrios for economic reasons, unable as yet to afford a place in the more prestigious neighborhoods.

This pattern is confirmed even within the cuartel. The dons headed smaller households when they lived in areas of Indian-casta concentration. In cuartel 18, the 50 don households living closer to the center of town averaged 6.4 persons, while the dons whose households stood nearer the western outskirts of the city among Indian-casta families presided over an average of just 4.2 persons.

The second conclusion is that little discernable difference can be seen among Spanish commoners, Indians, and mestizos. All are younger than the dons and head smaller households, as would be expected from their lesser resources. In the very wealthiest cuarteles, low-status Spaniards, Indians, and mestizos tend to head younger and smaller households than either their citywide average or their average in the poorer neighborhoods. The data seem to say that only among the homes of the very wealthiest citizens could young men with scant resources raise a family on their own. By their old age they must either rent a small room from better-off citizens or live in the cheaper accommodations on the city’s margins.

If life cycle factors predominated over socioeconomic variables, that is, if the non-don Spaniards were simply in a “social apprenticship” toward full don status, then one would expect, assuming no significant demographic differences between the remaining groups, that the numbers of non-dons in the middle-aged and older categories would decline relative to non-Hispanics. This does not take place. While the don Spaniards do increase their relative share of the total heads of households (Table III) as they progress through the age categories, the non-dons’ share of the remaining “headships” stays relatively constant. For example, the non-don Spaniards slip from 19.4 percent of ages 15-34 to 17.0 percent of ages 35-54; the Indians’ share declines from 38.7 percent to 36.8 percent. The differences are between socioeconomically determined status groups, not estate-based racial hierarchies.

The only anomaly is the mulattos (Table III), whose relatively older age structure (although, significantly, not larger households) may represent their absolute poverty. Perhaps they were heads of households in their old age because they had so few options. It is likely that they could not afford to rent rooms in the better-off households but had to survive as best they could on their own, with few skills, living with others of similar circumstances in the poorest sections of the cuarteles. While race can hardly be said to be absent in the mulattos’ opportunities in life, their plight underscores the exception, not the rule.

Family Structure

The early studies of the Latin American family applied the theoretical framework in use by contemporary U.S. and European scholars.52 Scholars are now less inclined to accept at face value theoretical structures which grew out of a historical experience qualitatively different from that of Latin America.53 The family structure which emerges from Guadalajara’s 1821 census suggests that this skepticism is valid. From a sample of the entire 1821 census (Table V), we find that Guadalajara was home for more extended and three-generational households than found in most areas of Western Europe or the United States. The same applies for multiple families living together.54

This information corroborates the correlation between wealth and family size. Non-don households were more likely than a don-headed household to be a nuclear family, or a multiple household of families unrelated to each other. Compared to the lower-status household, however, the dons generally headed an extended family, presiding over unmarried siblings, relatives, elderly parents, not to mention servants, employees, and renters.55 Of the “extended” households, over half (58 of 101) contained at least three generations, or nearly 10 percent of all sampled households. Again, higher status meant a greater likelihood of seeing the children, parents, and grandparents living together compared to the lower-status families. This is true despite the facts that don heads tended to be older (Table III), thereby decreasing the likelihood that their parents were still alive, and that don Spaniards were more likely to be single than non-don Spaniards, Indians, or castas (Table II), and hence had fewer possibilities to create the third generation.

In a related phenomenon, dons were more than twice as likely as non-dons to head a solitary or “no family” household, living only with servants or boarders. One must presume that their wealth afforded them the luxury to live without other family members if they so chose, or enabled them to do so if they had no other choice. As with household size and marital status, household composition clearly showed significant correlation with socioeconomic factors.56

Race and Residence

Only recently have standard geographic theories of urban space been applied to Latin American colonial cities.57 It has traditionally been accepted that, as in North American and European preindustrial urban centers, the wealthy lived in large houses in the downtown heart of the city (bordering the main plaza in the Latin American case) while the merchants, artisans, and laborers lived in poorer accommodations ringing the plaza in concentric circles. Indians lived in their separate pueblos at the city’s edge.58 While most studies still find elites concentrated in the older affluent downtown area and the Indian-casta poor in the suburbs, it is now clear that the rigidity of residential segregation had broken down by the late Bourbon era.59

The Guadalajara census of 1821 reveals that except for two small, heavily Indian-casta cuarteles (7 and 22) in the newer northern section of the city, and, to a lesser extent, the concentration of Spaniards in the two wealthiest cuarteles (15 and 23), the races appear to have lived in close proximity throughout the city (Table VI). The actual physical and social circumstances of the residences, however, varied considerably. Lesser-status persons lived in small rented rooms (cuartos) in the rear of the higher-status residences, in accesorias or cocheras attached with separate entrances to the lowly regarded bottom floor of the main residence, in nearby unsavory one-story apartment houses (casas de vecindad), or in hovels called jacales in adjacent alley ways. Moreover, the presence of the poor in the neighborhoods of the wealthy reflected rather than diminished the social inequities in preindustrial Mexico; they provided rental income for the wealthy and convenient access to low-cost goods and services.60

The apparent “scattering” of the estates throughout the city is misleading for another reason. The lower-status Spaniards were far more likely to live in poorer barrios among Indians and castas than with fellow Spaniards in the city’s wealthier cuarteles, according to the “index of dissimilarity” (Table VII), a standard measurement of the degree of residential segregation between specific groups. The index measures the percent of members of each group who would have to move from their cuartel to achieve complete residential integration with each of the other groups throughout the city.61 As might be expected, the greatest degree of segregation was between the dons and the city’s Indian population. The next greatest “dissimilarity” of residence, however, is between the don and non-don Spaniards! Conversely, the non-don Spaniards and the Indians showed the highest degree of integration. For heads of households, only 30 percent of non-don españoles would have to move to achieve total integration; for members, 27 percent. In fact, the non-don Spaniards were more integrated with the castas than with the dons.

Not only did non-don Spaniards live in the same cuartel with Indians and castas, but they often lived side by side in the same block or rubbed elbows within the same household. In cuartel 18, almost half of the lower status Spaniards lived alongside an Indian or casta-headed household. An additional 11 percent lived in mixed households. In cuartel 20, the figures were 75 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Occasionally, one runs across an entire block or section inhabited by only one group, but this is rare.62

On the other hand, is it possible that Spaniards of modest means living in better-class neighborhoods were accorded the don simply because of their residence, while those of similar means living in poorer, heavily Indian-casta areas were not? If true, might not then the obvious social penalty paid by those creole commoners living in predominantly Indian-casta areas show that race was still a significant factor in allocating social status? These are reasonable questions for which no convincing statistical answers exist. The impact of class does not demand the absence of race. Perhaps the most obvious interpretation is simply that race had for so long been associated with status that Spanish commoners living and working in conjunction with Indians and castas ensured the low status which accompanied poverty. What the available evidence tells us is that the residential patterns of the city cannot be explained adequately by reference solely to the race of its citizens. It suggests not so much that race played a small role in the allocation of living space as that socioeconomic factors other than race overwhelmed that influence. If life’s options were even marginally better for the Spanish poor than the non-Hispanics with whom they lived and worked, the clues they left behind give us little indication of that fact.

Socio-Occupational Status

Occupation is the most commonly analyzed of all factors in social stratification, for it appears to be a surrogate of class. In medieval times, one’s class determined one’s work. Nineteenth-century liberals sought to legitimize the industrial revolution (and rationalize their own political dominance) by reversing that formula—one’s work determined one’s class. Hence (they believed), one could measure the openness of class by plotting the movement within the division of labor, as individual workers descended or climbed the social ladder. The great European social scientists of the late nineteenth century, worried about the potentially explosive proletarianization of the working class, began to study this process by organizing working-class census data on the basis of skill: skilled craftsman, semiskilled industrial worker, unskilled laborer.63

In the past several decades, U.S. scholars have used occupational data as a means to measure, and often to criticize, the “myth” of social mobility. Therefore, classification categories have been stratified by income, function (nonmanual, proprietors, craftsmen, clerks, unskilled workers), and “class” (white collar vs. blue collar, with subdivisions by technical expertise).64 For the most part, such classifications are inappropriate or difficult to use in analyzing preindustrial Latin America, for which social mobility is not a very relevant topic to begin with. Working-class income data are scarce, although much more could be done to uncover such sources. Skill levels would be helpful but generally are hard to establish from census data.65 Organization of individuals by their industrial occupation (construction, textiles, etc.) is useful, but it conceals the wide ranges of class and other differences within particular industries.66 Chance and Taylor’s elite, professional, high- and low-status artisan, and servant categories avoid the latter pitfall but fail to differentiate between the very different roles in the division of labor played by laborers as opposed to servants.67

The socio-occupational categories chosen for this study—elite, merchant-master, journeyman artisans, laborers, and servants—resemble what I believe to have been commonly accepted social divisions of their day. Moreover, they are similar to those used by Patricia Seed in her work on Mexico City and make possible a comparison with that important study.68

The elite category is made up of the religious, civilian, and military bureaucrats, rural property owners (hacendados and don labradores), and mine owners.69 As expected, the dons dominated the elite category (Tables VIII-IX), although nearly 10 percent of the population is obviously too large for an “elite.” Richard Lindley estimates that in 1800 Guadalajara’s elite numbered no more than two hundred families, or approximately 3 percent of the city’s residents.70

The merchant-master category includes all merchants and those engaged in related occupations and all artisans honored with the don.71 Admittedly, the wealthier merchants belong among the city’s elite. However, except for the number of servants employed, this study has uncovered no reasonable way to determine wealth.72 Moreover, for the purposes of this study the important consideration is their role in the division of labor rather than a strict stratification by wealth and position. Furthermore, while a few of the merchants were indeed purely retailers-wholesalers, the vast majority were likely still artisan producer-retailers. Miguel Esteban Ramírez, for example, was listed as a merchant on the tax rolls and a silversmith in the census manuscript.73

Potentially more troubling is my assumption that the don identified a shop-owning master artisan. Nineteenth-century sources, including those on which this study is based, rarely differentiated between shop-owning master artisans and their journeymen employees. The problem is salient because each group stood in a far different relationship to class. For example, the ratio of journeymen to shop-owning masters provides a vital clue to the timing of capitalism’s victory over the craft economy.74 Circumstantial evidence supports my assumption that, in general, among artisans the don identified a licensed master sanctioned by the appropriate guild. With certain exceptions, the average number of votes cast by Guadalajara’s masters in guild elections from 1794 to 1820 corresponds roughly to the estimated number of don heads of households employed in those same crafts in 1821. For example, an average of 13 barbers voted in those elections, and an estimated 13 barber heads of households were awarded dons by the 1821 census takers; an average of 18 carpenters voted, and an estimated 18 carpenter heads were dons. Similar agreement holds for blacksmiths, candlers, saddlers and tanners, bakers, and shoemakers.75

The major exceptions were hatters and weavers, with far fewer dons than masters, and tailors and silversmiths, with far more dons than masters voting in the elections. By 1821, hatters and weavers were low-status occupations whose masters rarely rated a don (see Appendix). On the other hand, tailors and silversmiths were among the highest status occupations, whose journeymen were often given the don even when working in someone else’s shop.76 The net statistical effect of these exceptions is minimal, however, since they tend to cancel each other out. More important, the non-don masters were in fact impoverished artisans, whose socioeconomic status placed them scarcely above that of ordinary journeymen and whose economic potential left little hope for better days. As Geoffrey Crossick noted about Kentish London, “the social distinction between artisan and small master was often a flimsy one, if it existed at all.”77 Indeed, in many crafts, artisans often moved back and forth from shop work to itinerant independent master during hard times when steady shop work could not be found.

The dons dominate the merchant-master category, comprising, by definition, all the master artisans and well over half the merchants. The non-don Spaniards were more likely to be merchants in comparison to the Indians, mestizos, mulattos, and “others,” but definitely not in proportion to their weight in the city’s population (Table X). The latter comparison is expressed as a percent of the “expected” number of persons in an occupational category, had that number been determined by a random selection based on their share in the city’s population.78 For example, the non-don creoles made up nearly one-fourth of the city’s population but were nearly half again fewer merchants (13.8 percent), or 40 percent “underrepresented” among the city’s merchants. While I have reservations about this measurement, it is useful as a theoretical comparison.79

Journeyman artisans make up the next category, except for bakers and bricklayers, who are placed in the laborer category along with all low-status, unskilled occupations including transportation workers, operarios, obreros, and gañanes. Bakers and brick masons were for the most part poorly paid itinerant unskilled laborers.80 Servants in private homes made up the final category.

It is here, in the last three categories, that things get interesting. As journeyman artisans, non-don Spaniards and mestizos were both moderately overrepresented in a category dominated absolutely and relatively by Indians. This is in direct contrast to Seed’s findings for Mexico City, in which both creoles and Indians were underrepresented among the artisans, and essentially supports the views of Chance and Taylor and Valdes. If the two Spanish groups were combined, of course, Guadalajara would then agree with Seed’s conclusions. The value of separating the Spanish population by status, however, is precisely the fact that we now have a “class” of Spaniards with whom it makes sense to compare Indians and mestizos.

Even more striking, creole commoners were overrepresented as both laborers and servants. Indeed, even if the two Spanish groups were combined, one-fourth of all persons labeled “Spanish” would be occupied as laborers or servants, something far different from Mexico City in 1753, or Oaxaca, Querétaro, and Guanajuato in 1791.81

While the figures themselves are clear (such is the attraction of statistics), exactly what they mean is not. For example, what happens to the concept of “social race” when Indians dominate the artisan category almost two to one over Spaniards, while the latter are considerably more over-represented as servants? Under what circumstances can race be said to matter at all in 1821 except for the obvious historical “headstart” implied by the Spanish domination of the “elite” and merchant-master categories? None of these questions can be answered with any certainty, although I must return to them in the conclusion.

One factor that accounts for Guadalajara’s apparent differences from other Mexican colonial cities is that the census occurred a generation later. In 1745, Guadalajara’s Indians had lived in their own villages outside the city.82 By 1821, however, the Indian pueblos of Mexicalcingo and Analco were administratively and economically integrated into the city, and Indians had found their way into all cuarteles and most neighborhoods.83 From this perspective, then, Guadalajara may only represent the future of New Spain’s colonial cities, whose changes lie in the years after the eighteenthcentury censuses were taken. But ultimately, given the acknowledged undercounting and even exclusion of the Indians in most previous studies, we cannot be sure whether Guadalajara in 1821 truly represents the future of those eighteenth-century cities, or simply their undiscovered past.

Heads and Members of Households

In preindustrial social reality, the distinction between the head of the household and the members of that household was clear and significant. Guadalajara’s census takers acknowledged the importance of that distinction by their consistent efforts to identify the actual head of the household. This was true even when, as was the case in nearly one-fourth of all Guadalajara households, the head was a woman.84 Under Spanish and later Mexican law, at the death of the husband the wife was entitled to half of the estate.85 The Guadalajara census takers generally placed single male adult children of any age second to their widowed mother.

Young men did not commonly establish their own households in preindustrial society. Colonial law even allowed parents to prevent their children from leaving home or marrying until age 25.86 Nevertheless, most left home at an early age.87 Half of all young men between the ages of 15 and 19 no longer lived with their parents, although most were not married. By the time they were 30, just over three-fourths lived elsewhere, but even then only one-third headed their own households.88

Establishment of one’s own household usually required at least the minimum security of a journeyman’s occupation. Nearly half of all adult male household members worked in a laboring or service job compared to only 29 percent of all male heads of households. Twice as many heads were merchants or master artisans, as compared to household members. Although this information is not in tabular form, the data also confirm that non-don Spaniards, Indians, and, particularly, mestizos tended to be members rather than heads of households. Interestingly, mulattos and “others” were more likely heads than members, probably perversely representing the opposite situation: extremely poor individuals unable to afford even the relative security of someone else’s household.

In the laborers category, non-don Spaniards were significantly under-represented as heads compared to Indians, mestizos, or mulattos. Perhaps it is here, as heads of households, that low-status Spaniards showed their closest link to their higher-status cousins? Nonetheless, as household members non-don Spaniards were more likely to be laborers than either mestizos or mulattos. Moreover, while as heads of households the non-don Spaniard journeymen artisans strengthened their position relative to the Indians, the latter were still nearly 50 percent “overrepresented” compared to the non-dons’ 37 percent.

Ultimately, the increased complexity that results when heads and members of households are viewed separately does not change the position of the lesser-status Spaniards relative to their racial “inferiors.” The non-don Spaniards were still confined with the Indians and castas to the bottom rungs of the city’s labor force. For Spanish commoners, race does not appear to have provided any greater overall opportunities than it did for those who could not lay claim to Hispanic blood.


The British ambassador Henry George Ward toured Mexico not long after independence, eagerly seeking out potential markets for his nation’s industries. Ward wrote to an English audience that “castes can no longer be said to exist in Mexico,” noting that the prominent politician and former insurgent leader Vicente Guerrero had “a mixture of African blood in his veins, which is not considered as any disparagement.” He attributed the changes in racial attitudes to the “good practical results” of the creoles’ having to attract caste support during the insurgency.89

Without debating the validity of Ward’s interpretation, one still wonders just what effect “ideological” changes might have had on the census of 1821. Certainly both sides had cause to remember Guadalajara in the turbulent years of the insurgency. Popular rebel leaders had been executed there, and during the occupation by Padre Hidalgo’s forces the insurgents had massacred a large number of peninsulares.90 From his headquarters in the city, Hidalgo had proclaimed the abolition of slavery and tribute payments, in part in response to local Indian complaints.

It would not have been surprising, then, if the alcaldes had walked softly on such a sensitive issue as race. Perhaps not coincidentally, half of the ward leaders neglected to supply the race of their constituents for the 1821 census, despite specific instructions to provide it. In one curious incident, the manuscript census reveals that the alcalde of cuartel 10 (the former Indian village of Mexicalcingo) was gathering the required data from a large “Indian” household when he inexplicably switched to the term ciudadano, “citizen,” to describe the calidad of the rest of the household members. Perhaps someone in the household reminded him that the victorious insurgents had promised equality to all citizens.

Under such circumstances, it may have occurred to the reader that it just might be possible that the low-status “Spaniards” in this study closely resembled Indians and castas because they were Indians and castas, generously provided the label of “español” by politically sensitive census takers using more flexible criteria than in the past. After all, the state was no longer in the business of taxing Indian tributaries and mulattos, an alcalde might have reasoned, so what was to be lost?

By way of evidence for this speculation, we find that the racial composition of Guadalajara changed significantly between the Revillagigedo census of 1793 and that of 1821 (Table I). From 40 percent of the city’s population in 1793, the Spaniards increased to nearly half in 1821. The Indian portion more than doubled from a bare 18 percent to almost 40 percent. The most dramatic change, however, was among the mulattos, who virtually disappeared! From over one-fourth of the city’s residents in 1793, they shrunk to barely 2 percent in 1821.91

The increase in Indian population substantially derives from the incorporation into the city of two former Indian pueblos, Mexicalcingo and Analco, combined with migration, and may even have resulted from absorbing a portion of the “disappeared” mulattos. The more moderate increase in Guadalajara’s Spanish population may, in part, have come from migration to the city during insurgency violence, but it, too, surely must have absorbed a significant number of mulattos. Given the low regard in which the latter were held during the colonial era, it is understandable why they would welcome the transfer. What role differing fertility rates played in the population changes is unknown, although they would hardly have accounted for the mulattos’ disappearance.

Yet, even if local factors influenced the flexibility of racial labels, the pattern was not unique. Both Valdes in Mexico City and Chance and Taylor in their Oaxaca study cited the decline of the mulattos and the increased proportion of those classified as Spaniards. The latter noted that through the results of intermarriage and social race “individuals of mixed racial ancestry were able to penetrate the ranks of the whites.”92 Chance and Taylor predicted that in Oaxaca the mulatto population would disappear by the midnineteenth century.93 In Guadalajara, at least, it happened much sooner than that.

But whether or not the Spanish commoners in Guadalajara were socially promoted Indians and castas, the once-useful system of social race appears to have been cheapened by a deteriorating craft economy. Seed argues that “if black or Indian upward socioeconomic mobility was achieved by the acquisition of a skill, the upward mobility of mestizos or mulattos was attained by the acquisition of property.”94 Yet by 1821, the latter had become more difficult and the former of less value. The Indians and castas, along with their poor Spanish comrades, “chose” crafts which required little capital or experience, their opportunities reflecting the advance of Guadalajara’s merchant elite into areas formerly controlled by the guilds. The acquisition of property, which once had created creoles through a redefinition of one’s race, appears in 1821 more remote. The road from journeyman to master in most crafts was not yet closed, but the odds were lengthening. A politically liberalized definition of race emerging from the insurgency would have meant little but the more equitable distribution of a devalued label. The privilege of being poor was the most ubiquitous right won in the struggle for independence.

Of course, creoles at the time would not have taken the decline of official racism to mean that race counted for nothing. Rather, they understood that what was being said was that outmoded corporate distinctions “artificially” imposed on colonial society by Spanish rule were being replaced by the “natural” laws which governed social contracts. Neither Indians nor mulattos would be required to pay tribute to the crown any longer. Instead, they would be free to pay taxes, make “voluntary” contributions to the new government, contract for the sale of their property, and cease to be treated as children or wards of the state. They had been admitted to the Republic of Mexico on the same basis as other lower-class ciudadanos, without special privileges or protections, just as the artisan guilds would no longer be accorded the right to control entrance to their crafts or regulate prices and production. Under those circumstances, it hardly seems to matter whether what has been documented in this study represents upward mobility for the Indians and castas or downward mobility for poor whites. An advancing commercial capitalism had made the point moot.

All Occupied Persons by Race for Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1821


Alexander von Humboldt, Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain, the John Black translation, abridged and edited by Mary Maples Dunn (New York, 1972), 32.


José Menéndez Valdez, Descripción y censo general de la intendencia de Guadalajara 1789-1793. Estudio preliminar y versión del texto, Ramón María Serrera, ed. (Guadalajara, 1980), 30-32. “Distinción de castas” included total population figures by race: Spanish, Indian, mulattos and “other estates.” The “Distinción de clases” included religious and military “fuero” holders, titled persons, “tributarios,” and a large variety of occupations roughly equivalent to what economists would now call the division of labor. The manuscripts containing the census takers’ figures by individual or household are found neither in Spain nor in archives in the state of Jalisco. A detailed summary of occupations presumably extracted from the census is also available in the Archivo Histórico Municipal (hereafter cited as AHM) in Guadalajara, paq. 12, leg. 35, 1792. The Censo General was completed in 1793, and is not to be confused with the earlier military census taken in 1791. The latter for Guadalajara is available in manuscript form at the Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico City, Padrones (no vol. or leg. number), Guadalajara, 1791, f. 245.


Lyle N. McAlister, “Social Structure and Social Change in New Spain,” HAHR, 43:3 (Aug. 1963), 363. For McAlister’s most recent analysis of race and class, see Spain and Portugal in the New World 1492-1700 (Minneapolis, 1984), 418-422.


Magnus Mörner, Race Mixture in the History of Latin America (Boston, 1967) and “Economic Factors and Stratification in Colonial Spanish America with Special Regard to Elites,” HAHR, 63:2 (May 1983), 335-369. See also Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, La población negra de México, 1529-1810. Estudio etnohistórico (Mexico City, 1946); Woodrow Borah and Sherburne F. Cook, “Sobre las posibilidades de hacer el estudio histórico del mestizaje sobre una base demográfica,” Revista de Historia de América, 53/54 (Jan.-Dec. 1962), 181-190. For a Marxist position, see Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Las clases sociales en las sociedades agrarias (Mexico City, 1969). The most detailed review of the literature is María Teresa Huerta, “Estructuras de clases y de trabajo,” in Balance y perspectivas de la historiografía social en México, Huerta et al., eds., 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1979), 1, 124-148.


Mörner, Race Mixture, 61. For a recent study which supports the McAlister-Mörner position, see Silvia Arrom, The Women of Mexico City, 1790-1857 (Stanford, 1985), 101-104.


Mörner, “Economic Factors,” 340.


Benjamin Keen, “Main Currents in United States Writings on Colonial Spanish America, 1884-1984,” HAHR, 65:4 (Nov. 1985), 678-679. For a major defense of the “feudalist” position, see Ruggiero Romano, “American Feudalism,” HAHR, 64:1 (Feb. 1984), 121-134.


Richard B. Lindley, Haciendas and Economic Development: Guadalajara, Mexico at Independence (Austin, 1983), 115-116 and Doris M. Ladd, The Mexican Nobility at Independence, 1780-1826 (Austin, 1976).


Dennis Nodin Valdes, “The Decline of the Sociedad de Castas in Mexico City” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1978), 45-46, 54, 69, 80-82, 125, 134-135; John K. Chance and William B. Taylor, “Estate and Class in a Colonial City: Oaxaca in 1792,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 19:3 (July 1977), 454-487 and Chance’s Race and Class in Colonial Oaxaca (Stanford, 1978) and “The Ecology of Race and Class in Late Colonial Oaxaca,” in Studies in Spanish American Population History, David J. Robinson, ed. (Boulder, 1981), 93-117; Nancy M. Farris, “Propiedades territoriales en Yucatán en la época colonial: Algunas observaciones acerca de la pobreza española y la autonomía indígena,” Historia Mexicana, 30:2 (Oct.-Dec. 1980), 153-208; Mario Góngora, “Urban Social Stratification in Colonial Chile,” HAHR, 55:3 (Aug. 1975), 444-445.


Valdes, “Decline of the Castas,” 135; Chance and Taylor, “Estate and Class,” 485.


For the historiography of this controversy, see Fred Bonner, “Urban Society in Colonial Spanish America: Research Trends,” Latin American Research Review, 21:1 (1986), 10-11, 29-35. However, for the sharpest attack on the revisionists, see Robert McCaa, Stuart B. Schwartz, and Arturo Grubessich, “Race and Class in Colonial Latin America: A Critique,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 21:3 (July 1979), 421-433 with a reply from Chance and Taylor, “Estate and Class: A Reply,” ibid., 434-442. In support of Chance and Taylor, see Patricia Seed and Philip F. Rust, “Estate and Class in Colonial Oaxaca Revisited,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 25:4 (Oct. 1983), 703-709. See also Seed’s “Social Dimensions of Race: Mexico City 1753,” HAHR, 62:4 (Nov. 1982), 569-606; David Brading, Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763-1810 (Cambridge, 1971) and “Grupos étnicos; Clases y estructura ocupacional en Guanajuato (1792),” Historia Mexicana, 21:3 (Jan.-Mar. 1972), 460-463; and Celia Wu, “The Population of the City of Querétaro in 1791,” Journal of Latin American Studies, 16:2 (Nov. 1984), 277-305.


Seed, “Social Dimensions,” 571, 583-584, 602-604.


Michael B. Katz, Michael J. Doucet, and Mark J. Stern, The Social Organization of Early Industrial Capitalism (Cambridge, MA. 1982), 39.


For a discussion of the confusion between stratification and class, see ibid., 39-46 and Seed, “Social Dimensions, ” 602-604. For a clear discussion of class and estate, see Peter Burke, Sociology and History (London, 1980), 60-65. For the difficulties involved in the use of class analysis for this topic, see Rodney Anderson “Race, Class and Capitalism in Early Republican Mexico,” paper delivered at the meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, Boston, Oct. 1986.


See Cook and Borah, Essays in Population History, 3 vols. (Berkeley, 1974), II, 180-269 for a discussion of the technical problems of identifying race in quantitative data.


Seed, “Social Dimensions,” 576-577; Valdes, “Decline of the Castas,” 24-26, 54-56. The 1753 census counted three of the city’s eight cuarteles, or only three-fourths of the heavily Spanish central city, and provided complete data only for heads of households. Valdes’s study found that Indians amounted to 8.3 percent of the population, while Seed counted 7.9 percent. The actual figure for the city would likely be double that. In 1790, the Indian share of the city’s population was 24.4 percent and in 1811, 27.8 percent. See Valdes, “Decline of the Castas,” 58, 64.


For a discussion of this problem, see Brading, Miners and Merchants, 248; Chance and Taylor, “Estate and Class,” 456; and Wu, “Querétaro,” 279-280.


A second census was taken in the fall of 1822, evidently on the orders of the newly elected city government; see Luis Pérez Verdia, Historia particular del estado de jalisco, desde los primeros tiempos de que hay noticia, hasta nuestros días, 3 vols. (Guadalajara, 1952 ed.), 111, 244. The two padrones are in AHM, cajas 1121 and 1123, leg. 39, 41 BIS, and one unnumbered leg. entitled “Varios padrones 1821.” A new numbering system has since been installed, but a conversion index is available. For a more detailed discussion of the census, see Anderson, Guadalajara a la consumación de la independencia: Estudio de su población según los padrones de 1821-1822 (Guadalajara, 1983), 13-17. The current study is based primarily on a full count of all individuals given a racial designation in the 1821 census (seen. 21). Occasional reference will be made to a systematic sample taken of every tenth household for all 24 cuarteles and used as the basis for Guadalajara a la independencia.


AHM, caja 1123, leg. 41, exp. 230, Oct. 8, 1821.


McCaa, “Calidad, Clase, and Marriage in Colonial Mexico: The Case of Parral, 1788-90,” HAHR, 64:3 (Aug. 1984), 477. See also Seed, “Social Dimensions,” 573-574.


Data on race were provided from the 1821 census for cuarteles 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23.


Anderson, Guadalajara a la independencia, 27.


Of the 801 don heads of households in cuarteles which did not give race, 16 percent were engaged in manufacturing; of the 900 dons in cuarteles which did give race, 19 percent were in manufacturing; those without occupations, 33 percent to 31 percent; those in agriculture, 3.7 percent to 3.2 percent; etc. The sex ratios were .816 to .889.


Anderson, Guadalajara a la independencia, 60. This figure is confirmed by Cook, “Las migraciones en la historia de la población mexicana: Datos, modelo del occidente del centro de México, 1793-1950,” in Historia y sociedad en el mundo de habla española, Bernardo García Martínez et al., eds. (Mexico City, 1970), 355-370.


Chance and Taylor use the don in a limited wav: “Estate and Class,” 470. See also Valdes, “Decline of the Castas,” 125-129 and John Kicza, Colonial Ent repreneurs: Families and Business in Bourbon Mexico City (Albuquerque, 1983), 15, 207-208.


Mörner, “Economic Factors and Stratification,” 355. See also Ladd, The Mexican Nobility, 7.


The individuals traced were from cuarteles 3, 4, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, and 20. They were traced either to the 1822 census manuscripts or to tax lists drawn up in the summer of 1821 and found in the same legs. as the census. Table 1 notes only 13 non-Spanish honored with a don/doña. Yet five persons identified by race as non-Spanish were awarded the honorific in the 1821 padrón though not in the 1822 census. One was a mulatto servant and another a mestizo tailor, both living in a posh, predominantly Spanish neighborhood in cuartel 14. (In that same cuartel, of four traced Spaniards who were only given a don on one of the lists, three were living in primarily Indian and casta enclaves.) Three Indians gave sizable tax contributions in 1821 and were made dons. Of the 15 disagreements in cuarteles 11 and 20, 8 were given dons after hefty tax contributions.


Cook and Borah, Essays in Population History, I, 181. For a standard history of the city, see José Cornejo Franco, Guadalajara, 2d ed. (Mexico City, 1959).


Richard E. Boyer and Keith A. Davies, Urbanization in 19th-Century Latin America: Statistics and Sources (Los Angeles, 1973), 33-49.


Eric Van Young, “Urban Market and Hinterland: Guadalajara and Its Region in the Eighteenth Century,” HAHR, 59:4 (Nov. 1979), 628-629, 632-635. See also his Hacienda and Market in Eighteenth-Century Mexico: The Rural Economy of the Guadalajara Region, 1675-1820 (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1981) and Linda L. Greenow, “Spatial Dimensions of the Credit Market in Eighteenth-Century Nueva Galicia,” in Social Fabric and Spatial Structure in Colonial Latin America, Robinson, ed. (Ann Arbor, 1979), 227-279.


Lindley, Haciendas and Economic Development, 9-21, 95-101.


AHM, caja 1124, leg. 42, exp. 54.


AHM, caja 1115, leg. 33, exp. 134.


AHM, caja 1124, leg. 42, exp. 80. See also Jorge González Angulo A., “Los gremios de artesanos y el régimen de castas,” in Organización de la producción y relaciones de trabajo en el siglo XIX en México, Sonia Lombardo et al., eds. (Mexico City, 1979), 173; Frederick J. Shaw, “The Artisan in Mexico City (1824-1853),” in El trabajo y los trabajadores en la historia de México, Eisa Cecilia Frost et al., eds. (Mexico City, 1979), 405, 407; Manuel Carrera Stampa, Los gremios mexicanos: La organización gremial en Nueva España, 1521-1861 (Mexico City, 1954), 265-266; and Alejandro Moreno Toscano, “Los trabajadores y el proyecto de industrialización, 1810-1867,” in La clase obrera en la historia de México, Pablo González Casanova, ed., 17 vols. (Mexico City, 1980-), I, De la colonia al imperio, Enrique Florescano et al., eds. (Mexico City, 1980), 225-231.


Gareth Stedman Jones, Outcast London. A Study in the Relationship Between Classes in Victorian Society (London, 1971), 22-23; Lyman Johnson, “Artisans,” in Cities and Society in Colonial Latin America, Louisa Schell Hoberman and Susan Migden Socolow, eds. (Albuquerque, 1986), 244-247.


Anderson, Guadalajara a la independencia, 103-105.


Several methods exist, none entirely satisfactory, to determine the ratio of journeymen to masters. A rough idea of the number of guild masters can be obtained through the number of masters voting in guild elections; see AHM, paq. 12, leg. 1; paq. 13, leg. 27; paq. 14, leg. 5; paq. 15, leg. 15 and 28; paq. 30, leg. 115; paq. 36, leg. 31. This likely understates the number of masters, and the ratio derived from this source (utilizing an estimated number of journeymen based on 1821 census figures) is the most conservative. More liberal ratios can be derived by using some combination of voting masters, non-don heads of households to represent the journeymen, or don heads of households to represent the masters. For evidence of a one-to-four or better ratio for “most trades” in Orizaba, Veracruz in 1838, see Torcuato S. Di Tella, “The Dangerous Classes in Early Nineteenth-Century Mexico,” Journal of Latin American Studies, 5:1 (May 1973), 98. For a discussion of master to journeymen ratios in nineteenth-century industrial capitalism, see Katz, Doucet, and Stein, Social Organization of Early Capitalism, 46.


Di Tella, “The Dangerous Classes,” 90-94.


Perhaps the best historiographic survey is Michael Anderson, Approaches to the History of the Western Family 1500-1914 (London, 1980).


Two excellent historiographic articles are Francesca M. Cancian, Louis Wolf Goodman, and Peter H. Smith, “Capitalism, Industrialization, and Kinship in Latin America: Major Issues,” Journal of Family History, 3:4 (Winter 1978), 319-335 and Elizabeth Kuznesof and Robert Oppenheimer, “The Family and Society in Nineteenth-Century Latín America: An Historiographical Introduction,” Journal of Family History, 10:3 (Fall 1985), 215-231.


Chance and Taylor, “Race and Class,” 477. For agreement on the importance of the intermarriage rate from a scholar on the other side of this issue, see Wu, “Querétaro,” 301.


See sources cited in n. 11 for the historiography of this dispute, particularly McCaa, Schwartz, and Grubessich, “Race and Class,” 422-429, the reply by Chance and Taylor, “Estate and Class,” 434-443, and Seed and Rust’s technical criticism of McCaa, Schwartz, and Grubessich, “Estate and Class,” 703-709.


Seed, “Social Dimensions,” 595-596.


Arrom, “Marriage Patterns in Mexico City, 1811,” Journal of Family History, 3:4 (Winter 1978), 389 and Women of Mexico City, 134-151. For similar conclusions, see Donald Ramos, “Vila Rica: Profile of a Colonial Brazilian Urban Center,” The Americas, 35:4 (Apr. 1979). 495-526.


For this argument in a sophisticated form, with different conclusions from this study, see McCaa, “Calidacl, Close, and Marriage,” 477-501.


Michael Anderson, Approaches to the Western Family, 32-33. For an important technical discussion of household size, see Robinson, “The Analysis of Eighteenth-Century Spanish American Cities: Some Problems and Alternative Solutions,” discussion paper, Department of Geography, Syracuse University (Syracuse, 1975), 29-33. See also Richard Wall, “Mean Household Size in England, From Printed Sources,” in Household and Family in Past Time, Peter Laslett and Richard Wall, eds. (Cambridge, 1972), 159-166. For the problems of household in Mexican censuses, see Cook and Borah, Essays in Population History, I, 118-200, and for their comments on Guadalajara, 170, 180-182.


Age and household size are a key aspect of the enduring controversy between renowned Cambridge demographic historian Laslett and his critics. For a review of the literature, as well as a defense of Laslett, see Michael Anderson, Approaches to the Western Family, 17-38. For a comprehensive criticism of Laslett’s work from his most persistent critic, see Lutz K. Berkner, “The Use and Misuses of Census Data for the Historical Analysis of Family Structure,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 5:4 (Spring 1975), 721-738.


An exception is Valdes, “Decline of the Castas,” 58-59.


John V. Lombardi, “Population Reporting Systems: An Eighteenth-Century Paradigm of Spanish Imperial Organization,” in Studies in Spanish American Population History, 19.


The problems of age—and possible solutions—are discussed in Cook and Borah, Essays in Population History, I, 202-231.


For similar patterns, see Kuznesof, “Household Composition and Headship as Related to Changes in Mode of Production: São Paulo 1765 to 1836,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 22:1 (Apr. 1980), 80. However, for a contrary trend, see Mark D. Szuchman, “Household Structure and Political Crisis: Buenos Aires, 1810-1860,” Latin American Research Review, 21:3 (1986), 81-83. The average household size for Guadalajara in 1821 was 5.3 persons, quite high compared to Western preindustrial societies; see Anderson, Guadalajara a la independencia, 73-82.


See Ramos, “Vila Rica,” 497 n. 6 and n. 7, and his “City and Country: The Family in Minas Gerais, 1804-1838,” Journal of Family History, 3:4 (Winter 1978), 364 n. 5.


Kuznesof and Oppenheimer, “The Family and Society,” 215.


Laslett, “Characteristics of the Western Family Considered Over Time,” Journal of Family History, 2 (Spring 1977), 96. The Guadalajara figures are seconded in Gabriel Brun Martínez’s study of Mexico City, “La organización del trabajo y la estructura de la unidad doméstica de los zapateros y cigarreros de la ciudad de México en 1811,” in Organización de la producción, 156. For my criticism of Laslett, see Anderson, “La familia en Guadalajara durante la independencia v la teoría social de Peter Laslett,” Revista Encuentro, 2:4 (July-Sept. 1985), 75-91.


Critics also contend, however, that residential patterns of Latin American cities often include relatives living in the vicinity but not in the same household. By concentrating on the latter, scholars risk imposing on Third World history analytical categories based on the experiences of middle-class families in developed nations. For analyzing kinship beyond the residence, see Chance, “Kinship and Urban Residence: Household and Family Organization in a Suburb of Oaxaca, Mexico,” Journal of the Steward Anthropological Society, 2:2 (Spring 1971), 123; Hugo G. Nutini, “Introduction: The Nature and Treatment of Kinship in Mesoamerica,” in Essays on Mexican Kinship, Nutini, Pedro Carrasco, and James M. Taggart, eds. (Pittsburgh, 1976), 9; Shepard Krech, III, “Black Family Organization in the Nineteenth Century: An Ethnological Perspective,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 12:3 (Winter 1982), 429-452; Greenow, “Microgeographic Analysis as an Index to Family Structure and Networks,” Journal of Family History 10:3 (Fall 1985), 272-283.


For other studies dealing with household composition and economic change, see Ann Hagerman Johnson, “The Impact of Market Agriculture on Family and Household Structure in Nineteenth-Centurv Chile,” HAHR, 58:4 (Nov. 1978), 625-648; John Tutino, “Family Economies in Agrarian Mexico, 1750-1910,” Journal of Family History, 10:3 (Fall 1985), 258-271; and the exceptionally important Hans Medick. “The Proto-Industrial Family Economy: The Structural Function of Household and Family During the Transition from Peasant Society to Industrial Capitalism,” Social History, 1:3 (Oct. 1976), 291-315.


Robinson, “Introduction to Themes and Scales“ in Social Fabric, 1-24 and Greenow, “Microgeographic Analysis,” 272-283.


Socolow and Johnson, “Urbanization in Colonial Latin Ainerica,” Journal of Urban History, 8:1 (Nov. 1981), 35-364. See also Richard M. Morse, “A Prolegomenon to Latin American Urban History,” HAHR, 52:3 (Aug. 1972), 359-394; Chance, “The Colonial Latin American City: Preindustrial or Capitalist?,” Urban Anthropology, 4:3 (Fall 1975), 211-228.


See Greenow, “Microgeographic Analysis,” 274 and Bonner, “Urban Society in Spanish America,” 24-25 for the historiography of this issue. On residential segregation in those studies which treat the race-class issue, see Wu, “Querétaro,” 303; Chance, Race and Class in Oaxaca, 133, 153-154; and Seed, “Social Dimensions,” 575-576.


For good discussions of residence in colonial Mexico City, see Rodríguez Piña, “Las vecindades en 1811: Tipología,” in Investigaciones sobre la historia de la ciudad de México, Alejandra Moreno Toscano, ed. (Mexico City, 1976), 95 and Valdes, “Decline of the Castas,” 114-138.


O. D. Duncan and B. Duncan, “A Methodological Analysis of Segregation Indexes,” American Sociological Review, 20:2 (Apr. 1955), 210-217.


For similar conclusions, see Chance, “The Ecology of Race and Class,” in Studies in Population, 93-117. Chance was able to apply his dissimilarity index to each block (manzana). See an important technical discussion of census data and residential patterns in Robinson, “Eighteenth-Century Spanish American Cities,” 17-22. Greenow argues that neither race nor class may have had as significant an impact on residence as kinship (“Microgeographic Analysis,” 275).


Jones, Outcast London, 350-357; J. A. Banks, “The Social Structure of Nineteenth-Century England as Seen Through the Census,” in The Census and Social Structure, Richard Lawton, ed. (London, 1978), 179-223; Armstrong, “Use of Information on Occupation,” 228-230.


Michael B. Katz, “Occupational Classification in History,” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 3:1 (Summer 1972), 63-88; Herbert G. Gutman, “Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America, 1815-1919,” American Historical Review, 78:3 (June 1973), 531-588. For a critical review of the Gutman approach, see James A. Henretta, “The Study of Social Mobility: Ideological Assumptions and Conceptual Bias,” Labor History, 18:2 (Spring 1977), 165-178.


For an attempt to create a relevant occupational classification system for later nineteenth-century Latin America, see Szuchman and Eugene F. Sofer, “The State of Occupational Stratification Studies in Argentina: A Classification Scheme,” Latin American Research Review, 11:1 (1976), 159-171. On income and social stratification, see Di Tella, “The Dangerous Classes,” 79-105.


Brading, Miners and Merchants, 251 and Wu, “Querétaro,” 293.


Chance and Taylor, “Estate and Class,” 467-468.


Women and children are not included in this study because the census infrequently gives their occupation. Only one-fifth of all females 15 and over were given an occupation, a figure far too low. See Anderson, Guadalajara a la independencia, 114-117 and “Las mujeres de Guadalajara, 1821,” Revista de la Universidad de Guadalajara, Oct. 1986, pp. 3-11.


Seed, “Social Dimensions,” 578-579. Only 8 percent of all labradores were given the don, but the average amount given by don labradores who contributed to the “voluntary” tax in 1821 was 1,357 pesos, the highest of any occupational group, including the second-place merchants’ average of 1,107 pesos.


Lindley, Haciendas and Economic Development, 18.


The exception to this rule is that all dons who were not heads of household but only members were placed in the journeyman category on the assumption that only heads of household would likely be shop-owning masters.


Of the 617 don households, 285 employed one or more servants. Over half of all don households employed no domestic help at all. Only 14 of the 539 non-don Spanish households (2.6 percent) were able to afford help, a figure hardly better than the three Indian and two casta households which also employed servants (0.5 percent).


Anderson, Guadalajara a la independencia, 108-109.


On the problems of nineteenth-century census occupational data, see W. A. Armstrong, “The Use of Information About Occupation” in Nineteenth-Century Society. Essays in the Use of Quantitative Methods for the Study of Social Data, E. A. Wrigley, ed. (London, 1972), 226-310 and Joyce M. Bellamy, “Occupation Statistics in the Nineteenth-Century Censuses,” in The Census and Social Structure, Lawton, ed., 165-178. Of the works cited for this study, only Seed made this critical distinction (“Social Dimensions,” 578).


See n. 37 for reference to guild elections. See list of Mexico City gremios and their membership for 1788 in Kicza, Colonial Entrepreneurs, 209-211. The estimated number of don heads of household is arrived at by multiplying by two the actual number of don heads counted in each occupation. This study counted approximately one-half of all male heads of household listed in the census of 1821 (and approximately 47 percent of all persons listed in that census).


Approximately one-third of all sastre heads of household in Guadalajara were dons. However, Kicza found in Mexico City that the master tailors were often not addressed as don and were considered a “less-esteemed” craft (Colonial Entrepreneurs, 208).


Geoffrey Crossick, An Artisan Elite in Victorian Society: Kentish London, 1840-1880 (London, 1978), 47.


For example, non-don Spaniards made up 23.1 percent of all occupied males (Table X, 1,082/4,690). Multiply 1,602 (the number of journeyman artisans) by 23.1 percent to obtain 370, the number of “expected” artisans who would be non-don Spaniards if the artisans were proportionally represented for each racial group. The actual number of non-don artisans, however, was 424. Subtract 370 from 424, obtaining 54 more artisans than expected. Divide 54 by 370 to obtain the percent of actual non-don artisans relative to the expected number of artisans. The answer—non-don Spaniards were 14.6+ percent over-represented in the journeyman category. See McCaa, Schwartz, and Grubessich, “Race and Class,” 431-432.


What this measurement does not do is to assess the impact of sheer numbers on the question of “representativeness.” The problem is exemplified by the conflict between Chance and Taylor and their critics. The latter acknowledge that a majority of all Oaxacan creoles were low-status artisans and that the creoles were the largest racial group in that category. Yet since, by this formula, creoles were slightly “underrepresented” as low-status artisans, the critics would not even consider the possible impact that great numbers of creoles performing low-status jobs might have had on how the estate system operated “on the street.” See McCaa, Schwartz, and Grubessich, “Race and Class,” 431-432 and Chance and Taylor, “Estate and Class: A Reply.” 434-442.


“Low status” was defined arbitrarily as an occupation with 8 percent or less of its numbers awarded a don. (Only 8 percent of all labradores were dons, 7 percent of all bakers, 2 percent of all shoemakers, and 1 percent of all brickmasons. No cargadores, operarios, obreros, gañanes, or stonemasons were dons.) In addition, all non-dons who were not given an occupation by the census takers (20.7 percent) were placed as laborers and servants according to the proportion of each race in that category who were assigned an occupation. The assumption is that when they worked they were unskilled laborers or servants. For the argument on this assumption, see Anderson, Guadalajara a la independencia, 108-112. Dons for whom no occupation was indicated were likely to be simply “gentlemen” for whom an occupation would have been an insult. They were distributed into all categories in which dons were represented, based on the proportion of those who were assigned an occupation. For an important discussion of status levels within the working class at this time, see Di Tella, “Dangerous Classes,” 98-103.


Seed, “Social Dimensions,” 580-584; Chance and Taylor, “Estate and Class,” 466-476; Valdes, “Decline of the Castas,” 72-79; Wu, “Querétaro,” 304; Brading, “Grupos étnicos,” 460-463.


Juan B. Iguíniz, ed., Guadalajara a través de los tiempos. Relatos y descripciones de viajeros y escritores desde el siglo XVI hasta nuestros días, 2 vols. (Guadalajara, 1950-51), I, 85.


Anderson, Guadalajara a la independencia, 136-141; Lindley, Haciendas and Economic Development, 16.


Anderson, Guadalajara a la independencia, 164-166. See also Lombardi, “Population Reporting Systems,” 16 and, on colonial policy for definition of household, Cook and Borah, Essays in Population History, II, 121-134.


Arrom, The Women of Mexico City, 67-68.


Ibid., 69-70.


Michael Anderson, Approaches to the Western Family, 25-27; Ramos, “Vila Rica,” 503.


Anderson, Guadalajara a la independencia, 80, 96-97.


Henry George Ward, Mexico in 1827, 2 vols. (London, 1828), I, 35.


José Ramírez Flores, El gobierno insurgente en Guadalajara 1810-1811 (Guadalajara, 1980), 95-111.


The 1793 totals were: Spanish, 39.5 percent—9,572; Indian, 17.5 percent—4,241; mulatto, 27.0 percent—6,538; “others,” 16.0 percent—3,898, for a total population of 24,249. See Menéndez Valdez, Descripción y censo general, 162-163.


Chance and Taylor, “Race and Class,” 439; Valdes, “Decline of the Castas,” 29.


Ibid., 465.


Seed, “Social Dimensions,” 583.

Author notes


The author would like to thank Mort Winsberg for his technical assistance on the Index of Dissimilarity; Philippa Levine, Marti Trovillion, and Andrea Spears for their comments on earlier drafts; and Félix and María Masud, Shay Brown, and Andrea Spears for their painstaking tabulation of the statistical data. The Social Science Research Council and the Florida State University Foundation provided generous financial aid for the original research.