Like their counterparts in Europe and North America, middle-class Mexicans have often utilized gender and morality to delineate class boundaries and separate themselves from social “others.” During the regime of Porfirio Díaz (1876–1911), members of this class advocated a new cult of female domesticity in which they carefully prescribed women’s role: women were to serve as properly educated mothers and guardian angels of the home. They thereby utilized gender not only as an important means of class differentiation but also as a way to champion moral reform. The Mexican bourgeoisie hoped to eradicate vice and inculcate values of thrift, sobriety, hygiene, and punctuality in succeeding generations of workers. In short, they subscribed to a developmentalist ideology, in hopes of turning a new, and feared, floating population (población flotante) of rural and urban workers—born of the mining industry, the railroads, the textile industry, and factory production—into a peaceful, hardworking, and suitably motivated work force.1 Middle-class Mexicans expected the state to regulate all facets of vice, but the prostitute reigned as a particularly cogent symbol of Mexico’s dangerous classes. Almost always, by contrast, middle-class Mexicans insisted that women’s “natural” place was in the home. At the same time, they were troubled by the relaxation of public morals that they perceived had taken place during the Porfiriato.

European and U.S. historians have concluded that attitudes toward morality and sexuality often express, in symbolic and cultural terms, fundamental social and economic divisions.2 Discussing Parliamentary Commission reports of working conditions in British factories and mines in the first half of the nineteenth century, Jeffrey Weeks observes an obsessive concern with the sexuality of the working class and a displacement of the discussion from the area of exploitation and class conflict into a framework that Weeks considers more amenable to the British bourgeoisie—that of morality.3 Extending this interpretation, Joan Scott emphasizes that gender is not biologically determined, but a contested terrain on which the meanings of male and female are socially constructed. For Scott, to study class without considering gender is simply impossible.4

Although students of Mexican history have not fully assessed the relationship between class and gender, recent work on the history of women in Mexico has focused on the issues of domesticity, developmentalist ideology, and class. By analyzing the content of late nineteenth-century periodicals directed at women, especially La Mujer, Carmen Ramos Escandón points to the ways bourgeois women reaffirmed their social status and that of their families. She also concludes that the prenatal message and stress on female domesticity advocated by the Porfirian bourgeoisie represented an attempt to ease tensions between increasingly antagonistic classes.5 In his study of the “new woman” that Protestant missionaries were attempting to fashion during the same period, Jean-Pierre Bastian notes the connection between the perceived need to educate women and the inculcation of the capitalist work ethic. Bastian emphasizes the need to create a new type of worker for Porfirian factories, one who had disciplined her sexual instincts and committed herself in the fight against alcohol. Protestant missionaries wanted to create habits of discipline, hygiene, thrift, and family morality among working-class women.6

Verena Radkau combines the study of working women with an analysis of the dominant discourse on gender in Porfirian Mexico. She finds a veritable army of writers, most subscribing to the notion of unlimited progress and preoccupied with women’s roles. Perceiving women of all social classes to be excellent guardians of the status quo, these writers carried the cult of domesticity with crusading zeal to all levels of Porfirian society. Radkau finds, moreover, that traditional models of womanhood appealed to incipient proletarians, both male and female, as well as to the middle class. For many working-class males, women’s salaried work threatened patriarchal authority within the family as well as men’s monopoly of certain skills and qualifications. For Radkau, contradictions of class were intertwined with contradictions of gender.7 In the following study, I regard moral reform, the inculcation of the capitalist work ethic, and the social construction of gender as multiple facets of the process of class differentiation in Porfirian Mexico.

A History of Moral Reform

Attempts to impose moral reform and inculcate developmentalist values in Mexico occurred long before Porfirio Díaz’ rise to power. During the late colonial period, Bourbon reformers attempted, without great success, to educate and moralize the masses by regulating drinking, prostitution, public disorder, and scandals.8 At the same time, they advocated practical education for women as a means of instilling values of work, thrift, and initiative in future generations. Motherhood became a civic responsibility that only enlightened women could fulfill. After independence, republican officials continued to view the education of women as essential to solving the problems facing the new nation. Following Bourbon precedents, these governments expanded primary education. For Bourbons and republicans alike, educating women implied creating excellent mothers and useful members of society.9

During the Porfiriato, these same developmentalist motives compelled middle-class Mexicans to take action. In Chihuahua, education became a state priority. In Hidalgo District, for example, jefe político Rodolfo Valles proudly emphasized increased school attendance in reports to the governor. Between 1902 and 1906, the average number of students attending schools in the town of Parrai grew from 526 to 1,480. School construction took place throughout the district. In 1906, Parrai boasted five schools (escuelas oficiales); Villa Escobedo, five; Santa Bárbara, three; and San Francisco del Oro, two. Valles asserted that along with inculcating a sense of order and love of country, the mission of the educator was to make people realize that the school led directly to the workshop. At the end of a day’s toil, the worker hurried back to a home sanctified by honor and hard work. Officials like Valles shared the hope that education would create suitably motivated workers, and they expected enlightened wives to greet workers as they returned home from their travails.10

Increased emphasis on domesticity and the exaltation of motherhood led to the establishment of industrial schools for young women (escuelas industriales para señoritas) in Chihuahua. According to Luz Fernández M., an alumna of one such institution, education existed to enable woman better to fulfill her role as man’s auxiliary. Women graduating from the industrial school for young women were true women: hardworking (trabajadora) and homebodies (de casa). Moreover, the school formed useful women, not know-it-alls; modest women, not pretentious harridans; women who were not offended by housework but who knew something about science and language. Women existed to help men; and although inferior in physical nature, in dignity they were men’s equal. Luz Fernández M. closed her address by stressing women’s role in inculcating developmentalist values in the next generation.11 As did no other single issue, the question of women’s education linked moral reform, gender, and class.

Above all, the emergence of a new and dangerous class no longer under the sway of traditional authority prompted northern Mexicans to emphasize women’s societal role. After the turn of the century, middle-class Mexicans in Chihuahua perceived their society to be convulsed in social crisis. While they touted railroads as the primary example of Porfirian progress, they were appalled by the growing army of beggars, drifters, and workers who rode the rails into Chihuahua’s cities and mining towns. In one mining area the town newspaper exclaimed, “Our jail is already enzacatecada [full of people from Zacatecas],” revealing not only concern with the presence of outsiders but the tendency to associate this new population with crime.12

Middle-class Chihuahuans quickly condemned the behavior of this transient population. The municipal president of the mining town of Villa Escobedo reported frequent scandals in which drunken workers shot off their pistols at night. Paydays became occasions for egregious drinking and gambling. In another mining municipality, San Francisco del Oro, prohibition of liquor sales forced workers to journey to Santa Bárbara to purchase large quantities of mescal liquor. They then frustrated local officials by drinking and committing scandals (singing loudly, shooting off guns, disturbing neighbors) inside their own homes. In the isolated rail road construction camps of this district, workers celebrated paydays with alcohol, horse racing, and cockfighting; on one occasion in 1904, the chief of public security arrived during a drinking spree and threw 36 workers into jail.13

The boom-and-bust nature of the mining economy added to the sense of a population in flux. Between 1895 and 1909, Parral’s population first expanded from 11,250 to 17,000, then contracted to less than 9,000. At the end of 1909, the total population had diminished by 40 percent from 1902 levels. Similar dramatic fluctuations took place in Santa Bárbara and Villa Escobedo.14 Moreover, many migrants were simply passing through Chihuahua on their way to higher-paying railroad and mining jobs in the United States. At the end of 1908, the U.S. Bureau of Labor estimated that between 60,000 and 100,000 Mexicans were entering the United States each year.15 Forced off the land, searching for work, or supplementing agricultural income with wage labor in railroad and mining camps, these migrants swelled what Chihuahuans began to refer to as the población flotante.16

In addition to disparaging the floating population, the Chihuahuan middle class drew sharp boundaries between itself and the working class. Middle-class Chihuahuans were the literate, educated, propertied, and self-proclaimedly respectable members of society. Teachers, journalists, and government officials, as well as merchants, shopkeepers, mine owners, and rancheros, fit into this category. In Hidalgo District, the Stallforth family was representative of the new middle class. Owners of a local mine, the Stallforths sponsored the building of an industrial school for young women. Also representative was Pedro Alvarado: his family connections and access to credit enabled him to persevere through bad economic times before his Palmilla mine turned into a bonanza. Local officials such as Manuel G. Martínez and Agustín Páez were also members of the Chihuahuan middle class; they attempted to carry out moral reform in Hidalgo District’s municipalities. By 1910, this literate middle class made up some 8 percent of Mexico’s total population.17

Middle-class adherents to the prevailing developmentalist ideology attempted to promote those values through working-class organizations such as mutual aid societies. In the mining town of Villa Escobedo, for example, jefe municipal I. Sandoval organized such a society for mine workers. Benefits to members included insurance against sickness and injury if they could not work. Sandoval campaigned extensively in all district mining companies to encourage miners to affiliate themselves with the society, appropriately named Protectión del Hogar.18 The clear implication was that disastrous consequences would befall society should the working-class family and home disintegrate under the impact of unemployment. The Chihuahuan press also criticized the abuses perpetrated by small-scale merchants. The resulting high cost of living seemed to promise not only starvation for the lower and middle orders but also the destruction of the family.19

State officials also believed that working-class morality could be improved by allowing employees a weekly day of rest. In 1903 the Chihuahua City merchant association (junta de comerciantes) approved the Sunday closing of clothing, vegetable, hardware, and grocery stores to allow workers to enjoy rest and licit amusement. Reformers, heralding the action as a great step forward in national progress, drew parallels between the Chihuahuan legislation and that of so-called cultured countries. Many argued that Sunday rest would allow workers to be men and not merely work machines (máquinas de trabajo).20 In their view, licit amusement promised to create cultivated men who would balance nutrition of the soul with that of the body. In Parral, municipal authorities established Sunday closings in late 1906. Merchants and officials expected the measure to benefit workers and improve overall morality. Workers agreed. They stressed the rest and recuperative nature of Sunday closings and the moral and cultured example to be set.21

Indeed, those in the middle class conceived of class boundaries in cultural terms, referring to themselves as members of cultured or refined society (sociedad culta) and to workers as representatives of the lowest orders (gente baja). One contributor to El Correo, for example, conceded that society accorded artisans derogatory and contemptuous treatment. This he blamed on the underdeveloped culture of workers, asking, “Will the working class be the only class that remains stationary and segregates itself from the rest?”22 Other correspondents noted the weak sense of duty and patriotism among the working class. They appeared astonished that workers labored only in order to eat, not to improve themselves; working-class Mexicans did not seem to regard work as the means of obtaining independence, prosperity, or happiness. According to members of refined society, workers lacked civilization, justice, liberty, and a sense of duty; rather than ennobled, workers felt oppressed and enslaved by work.23 As far as middle-class Chihuahuans were concerned, workers failed to measure up to the behavioral standards needed for inclusion in refined society; they refused to share in Mexico’s progress.

The belief that one could obtain perfection through work formed part of a package of values promoted by adherents to the doctrine of what can be called social Catholicism. Indeed, El Correo, the reformers’ forum, was an avowedly pro-Catholic publication. After 1891, with the publication and dissemination in Mexico of the Rerum Novarum proclamation, and especially in the final decade of Porfirian rule, social Catholics were preoccupied with what they referred to as the “social problem” or “corruption of the masses.” They pointed to high levels of alcohol consumption, the common practice of cohabitation instead of marriage, the increase in prostitution, and the proliferation of illegal activities as evidence of the failure of progress in the moral and spiritual realm. In four national Catholic congresses held between 1900 and 1909, delegates considered, among other issues, measures to free workers from the grasp of vice, especially alcohol, and ways to ensure jobs that would pay a living wage to all workers. They also stressed the dignity of women and the sanctity of marriage, home, children, and family.24 Yet this preoccupation with the perceived moral decadence of Porfirian society was not a uniquely social Catholic phenomenon. Nationally, the press of every ideological stripe lamented that material progress had not been accompanied by intellectual and moral advances. In Chihuahua, the liberal press echoed the views of its Catholic colleague.25 When it came to moral reform and the role of women, middle-class Catholics and liberals had more in common with each other than with their coreligionists among the genie baja.

Prostitutes and Other Social Symbols

The embodiment of many of the social ills lamented by self-proclaimed cultured Porfirians was the figure of the prostitute. For Luis Lara y Pardo, author of La prostitutión en México, published in 1908, “science” had clearly proven that prostitution was a degenerative state of social and psychological inferiority. While he regarded vagrants, beggars, criminals, and all forms of social parasites as degenerate phenomena, only prostitutes displayed the full cluster of traits so threatening to the gente culta. Laziness, indifference, apathy, superstition, the desire to call attention to themselves, and functional perversions of the nervous system were all embodied in this figure. Once they joined a brothel, prostitutes lost their power to reason, their will, and their sense of morality. Even their language degenerated into brothel slang. They became slaves to superstition, forming the principal clientele of fortune tellers and adopting practices such as leaving two burning matches crossed on the floor in hopes of avoiding confinement in the hospital for venereal diseases.26

Using statistics gathered by the inspector de sanidad in Mexico City, Lara y Pardo argued that most prostitutes came from the working class. With their work experience as domestic servants, tortilla makers, cleaning women, and waitresses, and their family background in the artisan and working classes, prostitutes served as the dominant symbol of lower-class moral and cultural degeneracy.27 Through his discussion of the behavior of prostitutes, Lara y Pardo revealed his beliefs about workers, in his opinion the lowest members of the social body. Women became prostitutes not because of poverty or hunger but because of their environment; they had grown up in working-class neighborhoods, where, according to Lara y Pardo, they had witnessed a daily display of drunkenness and vice. One of the most prominent images they retained from their childhood was that of the prostitute dressed in her “uniform.” Indeed, many would have counted prostitutes among their relatives and friends.

For Lara y Pardo, poverty was not responsible for creating this working-class environment. In fact, he asserted that working-class women had an easier time making ends meet than women of other classes; he believed that those at the bottom of the social scale enjoyed greater opportunities for work and had only minimal necessities. Lara y Pardo maintained that lower-class women frequently left one of the most economically favored categories of employment, domestic work, to become prostitutes. Rather than poverty it was social and psychological inferiority, combined with the power of example, that led to prostitution. In short, the working-class woman lived in a “repugnant” and “terrible” promiscuity that left her ready to prostitute herself simply out of habit. For these women, loss of virginity was either voluntary or trivial.28 Like the British parliamentarians discussed by Jeffrey Weeks, Lara y Pardo and middle-class Porfirians in general transferred the debate from the subject of class conflict and the economic conditions of workers to that of the supposed moral degeneracy of the working class.

As a symbol of that degeneracy, the prostitute became a target for middle-class regulation efforts in Chihuahua. This phenomenon was not unique to northern Mexico. For example, Mary Gibson concludes that in nineteenth-century Italy, society’s almost hysterical fear of prostitution can be understood only against a background of economic and social change that brought visible numbers of single, unemployed, and homeless women to Italian cities. The prostitute was a woman alone, and to many middle- and upper-class observers she embodied a cluster of traits, including idleness, illegality, immorality, and female autonomy, that were antithetical to the bourgeois ethic of the nineteenth century.29

To many observers in northern Mexico, working women’s presence in the new workplaces and alone in the cities—separated from both paternal and conjugal home—indicated that the world had been turned upside down. One contributor to El Correo exclaimed that only 20 years earlier it would have been shocking to see a young woman carrying home books from a commercial house, working as an employee or shop assistant, or directing a telegraph or telephone office. Some observers began to contrast what they saw as the morally pure countryside with an evil, vice-ridden city.30 In Chihuahua, as in Italy, the prostitute served to symbolize class and other social conflicts.

After 1900, Chihuahuan state officials enacted measures against prostitution and other forms of vice; the process began in earnest in 1903, when Luis Terrazas returned to the governor’s chair and addressed the “social problem” with legislation designed to bring about moral regeneration. In September 1903 the state executive approved measures regulating brothels in Chihuahua City. This measure, known as the Tolerance Regulation, designated three brothel zones and called for the removal of such establishments from the city center. Prostitutes were banned from cantinas, billiard halls, restaurants, and cafes; they were instructed to dress properly and not to appear in the street in groups of more than two. Local officials enacted similar measures in Chihuahua’s smaller cities and mining camps. Town councilors in Hidalgo del Parral, for example, passed a tolerance regulation in an attempt to control meretricious behavior in their city. They designated several city blocks as a tolerance zone (zona de tolerancia) and prohibited prostitutes, who now had to be registered, from leaving this area during the hours specified by the act. A new municipal official was charged with recording and regulating the whereabouts of prostitutes, while every brothel fell under the care and vigilance of a woman at least 40 years of age. The act obliged prostitutes to undergo weekly medical examinations; to dress and behave, in the words of the regulation, “decently”; and to refrain from encouraging business by standing in doorways, windows, and balconies or by giving signs, signals, and words.31

That same year the state government attempted to promote moral regeneration by regulating cantinas. Based on regulations previously enacted in Mexico City, the new measure required that liquor sales end at nine in the evening between Monday and Saturday and that cantinas close at two in the afternoon on Sundays and during fiestas. The regulation laid down hygienic standards for cantinas and gave political authorities the right of inspection. Blinds were to be installed to prevent any view of the interior from outside. The following year, state officials directed a circular to jefes politicos ordering them to prohibit gambling. Citing gambling’s role in making men lazy and dishonorable, gambling regulations defined permissible games. Henceforth, chess, bowling, billiards, cockfights, horse racing, bicycle racing, foot racing, raffles, lotteries, dominoes, checkers, conquian, brisca, escarte, tresillo, Panguín gui, common poker, paco, pelota, tiro al bianco, and whist were to be permitted. All other games were prohibited.32

Taking office in 1904, Governor Enrique Creel continued the campaign begun by Terrazas. In mid-1906, at his insistence, Chihuahua legislators passed a new law to curb intoxicating liquors. The regulation demanded official authorization for the establishment of new cantinas and reserved all rights of vigilance and control for the state government. In an address before the Anti-Alcoholic League at the end of that year, one commentator revealed the importance middle-class Chihuahuans attached to alcohol regulation as an integral part of the struggle to impose the capitalist work ethic. The speaker pointed to a “burning morality” alive in Chihuahuan society and praised the recently passed cantina regulations. He also pointed to other social advances: laws that would make education available to thousands of Indians in the mountains; laws that would benefit workers and encourage their honor, patriotism, and thrift; and the worthy example of women workers. Without an open war on alcoholism, he declared, all these initiatives would remain a chimera.33 In implanting the ethic of capitalism, progress required the elimination of alcoholism.34

This “burning morality” extended beyond the seat of state government to Chihuahua’s districts, municipalities, and mining camps. Between 1900 and 1910, district and municipal officials regulated gambling, fairs, circuses, leisure activities, and the sale and consumption of alcohol in Hidalgo District. In 1903, municipal councilors drafted regulations for public amusements. Councilors advocated higher taxes, shorter stays, and restrictions for circuses, dramatic functions, operas, concerts, magicians, and acrobats, as well as the prohibition of festivities that threatened to corrupt good customs and to attack morality—especially certain dances introduced from the United States. Striving to create a refined society by imposing standards of public morality, they also justified the need for these measures by pointing to the threat circuses posed to local merchants, the poverty in which the needy remained after these functions left town, and the tardiness and absenteeism that occurred in the mines. In prolonged festive periods, they maintained, workers stayed awake all night and were unable to report to work at the proper hour. Local officials realized that mining companies needed a regular supply of punctual laborers; they believed regulation would foster reliable work habits.35

Members of refined society coveted city centers for themselves and attempted to banish all aspects of vice to isolated neighborhoods. In their opinion, the close proximity of prostitutes and honorable people led to three deleterious consequences. First, it set a bad moral example. The continual sight of ostentatious and luxuriously dressed fast women might entice young women down the slippery slide into prostitution. Second, it forced honorable people to view immoral scenes. Third and most significant, it allowed prostitutes to blend in and “confuse” themselves with honorable folk. Middle-class Chihuahuans resented the fact that prostitutes would attempt to make themselves equal to honorable people. They desired to separate physically the categories of people they distinguished in Chihuahuan society.36

Prostitutes were not the sole target of those claiming public space for themselves. Members of refined society expected to divert working-class life from the street into the home. Mary Kay Vaughan stresses that the working-class family offered, in theory, a means of stabilizing a society wracked by class conflict. The idealized family, inspired by the proper values, would provide an alternative to worker immorality, lack of discipline, and nascent political consciousness.37 In the struggle to control this new work force, middle-class Porfirians regarded the home as the symbolic opposite of the tavern. The tavern consumed physical and moral energy, crushed good sentiments, brutalized and eliminated life, honor, shame, and the desire to work; while the home represented joy, wholesome happiness, healthy enthusiasm, moral and physical regeneration, and progress. El Correo implored wage workers to listen to their conscience in choosing between the two. Along with alcoholic libations, the tavern offered crime, shame, and repugnant passions, while home offered dignity, hope, high ideals, life, and the sweet nectar of domestic bliss.38

At the heart of the working-class family was the wife and mother. Indeed, many believed women to be part of nature, able to live only in paternal or conjugal homes as daughters, wives, and mothers. They described women venturing outside the home or trespassing in man’s sphere as mannish or hairy-chested.39 Middle-class Mexicans were concerned that women would virtually become men, which illustrates that for them, deviation from traditional social roles seemed a violation of nature itself. After considering the merits of educating women, one El Correo contributor decided that women could only become experts at the cost of their charm, their purity, and their duties in the home. He concluded: “Each one in their own place. Women are able to be superior, but as women. In wanting to imitate men, they convert themselves into parrots or monkeys.”40

Middle-class Chihuahuans maintained, moreover, that as natural dependents, and thus never entirely self-supporting, women could be paid a lower wage. Women entering the labor force to supplement family income or earn pin money, especially the wives and daughters of wage workers, decreased wages by increasing the labor supply. Instead of utilizing supposedly natural family roles to justify paying women workers less, however, Porfirians employed the so-called law of the female labor market to justify enforced female domesticity. Woman had not come into the world to live in isolation; her place was with her husband in the conjugal home (hogar doméstico). It was the husband’s task to sustain her and maintain the home. In place of working women, one contributor to El Hijo del Parral proposed better remuneration of masculine work and an increase in “family spirit” (espíritu defamilia). Material and moral problems posed by working women would be resolved when all males married and earned sufficient income.41

Middle-class Mexicans also regarded the working-class family as the best site for inculcating Porfirian developmentalist values. Women’s central role in domestic life promised to sustain the working-class family and provide a means of eliminating vice and of instilling the capitalist ethic in the masses. Donald Reid has noted that coal mine managers in nineteenth-century French company towns, such as Decazeville, expected workers’ wives to play similar roles. Reid describes the stages through which such towns passed, from company provision of material benefits, such as housing, to company encouragement of large families and the training of children in work discipline, and finally the introduction of shift work in mines and factories. The demands of this last stage prompted managers to stress wives’ crucial duty to maintain households in which their husbands, sons, and boarders could recuperate.42 Although middle-class Mexicans emphasized the mother’s role in inculcating the work ethic, they also regarded the home as a place of moral and physical regeneration.

Family formation was considered to be woman’s most important task in the Porfirian household. This was the duty that society and nature entrusted to women, and middle-class commentators identified the mother as more important than the nation-state in this task. One contributor to El Correo suggested the Mexican mother could reasonably claim, “I am the state” (El estado, soy yo).43 While prostitutes served for enlightened Porfirians as important symbols of lower-class transience, immorality, and separateness, mothers of families represented stability, virtue, and progress. Middle-class Mexicans stressed women’s role as mothers for two reasons. First, because mothers would nurture future generations of “cultured” workers, they represented the solution to the present social crisis. Second, motherhood became an important symbolic means of identifying proper male and female roles. Fulfillment of such roles seemed to promise a stable yet progressive society.

Women’s Education

Because family formation could be accomplished only by properly educated women, women’s education became an important theme of middle-class discourse. Those bent on transforming society denounced upper-class pretensions and fears of social mixing—the obvious consequence of sending their daughters to public schools along with the progeny of the lower orders. They were no less vehement in criticizing fathers of laboring families for keeping their children out of school during peak work periods of the agricultural cycle and religious pilgrimages. Reformers also confronted parental fear of entrusting daughters to the supervision of male teachers, and the widespread belief that women need not receive an education.44 The Porfirian educational project was to be national in scope and to include all social classes. While the present generation might not possess suitable work habits or exhibit attributes necessary for inclusion in refined society, reformers stressed that properly educated women could successfully inculcate these values in the next generation.

Widely accepted educational theories stressing the mother’s role in establishing lifelong habits of industry and morality in young children added urgency to the task of educating women. Many of these theories viewed education given by parents to children—that is, family education—as the basis for national greatness and prosperity. They bolstered the belief that the mother of the family offered the means of creating a progressive society. Good teaching began in infancy; it was the only means of ensuring that education took firm root.

Reformers cited Francis Bacon: “That which we call education is basically a habit contracted from the tenderest age.”45 They looked to other European authors for support of the thesis that children’s education was nothing but the acquisition of good habits that would eventually become instinctive. Habits worked more consistently than reason; and mothers were to impress on children the values the reformers treasured—charity, virtue, modesty, and integrity. Underlying the rhetoric was the assumption that individuals acted as reasonable and rational beings who, once educated, would adopt obviously correct forms of behavior. Education of the masses thus became one important means of resolving the problems confronting Porfirian society.46

Education was also to be practical. In place of excessive concern with imparting proper manners and correct appearance in society, reformers constantly impressed on parents the necessity of teaching children dedication to work so that they might become hombres trabajadores.47 In a manner reminiscent of eighteenth-century Spanish attempts to promote manufacturing, they chided upper-class society for disparaging manual labor and for barring its children from choosing such work. Newspapers offered allegorical tales of sons going against family wishes and choosing useful occupations, often artisanal, in place of legal careers, which they described as a burden to society. One newspaper contributor summarized the frustration with elite attitudes toward work: it was better to have one useful artisan than to educate five unproductive licenciados.48

Middle-class Chihuahuans also donated substantial funds to establish institutions to educate women, such as the industrial school for young women that Luz Fernández M. attended in Parral. Funding such schools became one of the foremost expressions of progressive philanthropy, indicating the importance donors attached to women’s useful education. The school in Parral was founded in late 1906 by Parral’s notable citizens, including jefe político Rodolfo Valles. It was attended by middle-class, not elite, women. In 1908, students petitioned Valles for an end to Saturday classes. These young women described themselves as poor (todas pobres). Attending school on Saturday left them unable to tidy their clothes, because they could not afford to hire anyone to do their household duties. The petitioners believed an end to Saturday classes would allow punctual attendance the rest of the week.49

Contributors to Chihuahua’s newspapers eagerly anticipated that women’s education would bring conservative consequences rather than broader horizons or increased self-sufficiency. Education Porfirian style would serve to inform women of their “proper” place in society. For most middle-class Mexicans, this meant compliance with women’s duties as daughters, wives, and mothers. Enlightened Porfirians viewed excessive pride as one of the principal defects of the poorly educated woman. By contrast, the well-educated woman was modest and humble, and knew how to sacrifice her own happiness and well-being. The well-educated woman never showed off her family, her titles, or her physical or moral qualities.50

Other commentators drew on Catholic teachings that mandated the mother’s educational duties. Writing in the pro-Catholic El Correo, these Chihuahuans believed that the maternal mission encompassed religious as well as moral and civic instruction.51 Good mothers formed good families that feared and worshiped God. Many writers described the family as a representation of the Holy Trinity and likened the mother’s role to a conduit or means of communication between father and child. As one contributor explained, the father was the intelligence that illuminated, and the mother the sentiment that brought it to life; but the light of the father was not able to reach the child during infancy. As childhood represented an age devoid of reason, the father’s teachings could only reach the child through the sentiment of the mother.52 While Catholic contributors criticized the contemporary educational system and characterized it as devoid of religious and moral instruction, they could agree with non-Catholic reformers as to the mother’s familial duties. Like the nineteenth-century Italian reformers, enlightened Porfirians often used Comtean positivism and social Darwinism to reinforce rather than challenge the traditional religious prescription of the female role.53

While education was geared to prepare mothers to bring up suitably enlightened families, reformers also expected domestic life to reinforce values needed in the workplace. Women were to run hogares blancos—“pure” houses that radiated cleanliness, punctuality, and usefulness; houses in which mothers exercised skill in preparing schedules and allocating time.54 Home and work were to adhere to the same capitalist principles. Some reformers went so far as to demand that time and work discipline be imposed on household chores, admonishing mothers to teach their daughters to distribute the time given to domestic chores by the quarter-hour from morning till night. Middle-class Mexicans presented home and work as interrelated—only through the transformation of both could the reformers’ aims be accomplished. “Capitalist” organization of the home seemed to promise orderly behavior on the job. Family and home relationships symbolized ideal worker behavior.

In much the same manner that work served as the antidote to vice for the working class, domestic work promised morally to safeguard all women from boredom, idleness, and laziness—the origins of vice. One member of refined society characterized domestic work as a virtue that reestablished order and conserved health. Laziness, on the other hand, led to the rule of passion, adulation, furtiveness, hypocrisy, and egotism. According to this commentator, the woman who knew how to work in the home, to scorn worldly dissipations, and to discover happiness in her family was the providence of her husband and children.55 Domestic work thwarted vice and was to serve as a model for working-class behavior outside the home in northern Mexico.

Reformers stressed sustenance of the soul as well as the body. One contributor to El Correo admonished young girls to be industrious, to learn to cook, sew, wash, iron, and do other necessary and useful domestic chores; yet he also encouraged women to embroider, arrange flowers, and learn to play musical instruments for pleasure as well as utility. He criticized women who neglected this aspect of their training in the same manner as others criticized the working class. To describe such one-sided personal development, he drew a metaphor from the new conditions of work: young girls who only embroidered represented mere embroidery machines, while those exclusively arranging flowers, machines for arranging flowers.56 Nurturing the soul seemed a necessary condition for human existence—one deemed absent in an ever-increasing working class and threatened in the family itself.

Members of refined society contrasted simplicity and modesty in the domestic sphere with the excessive luxury of women on the street. When questioned as to why women in the mining town of Santa Bárbara turned to prostitution, jefe municipal Agustín Páez advanced three reasons: the relaxation of social customs in the region, the misery and necessity brought about by the increasingly high cost of living, and the excessive desire for luxury on the part of some women.57 What most enraged those discussing moral reform was the perception that Chihuahua’s prostitutes indulged their taste for luxury, exemplified by fine clothes, expensive jewelry, and make-up. Editorial campaigns favoring moral reform never failed to mention prostitutes flaunting of luxury and their lack of respect for society and its authorities.58 Whether or not clothes were considered luxurious also depended on the socioeconomic status of the wearer. While condemning prostitutes for their vanity, middle-class Chihuahuans denigrated working-class women who dressed like their social betters. In both cases, excessive luxury seemed a direct affront to refined society.59

Moral reformers viewed luxury as an unmistakable symbol of societal decadence, corruption, and loss of virtue. Writing in El Correo, a woman identified only as María warned women against showing off and, above all, against indulging in the horrible passion of luxury. María described luxury as a contagious plague devouring modern societies, with women as its principal victims.60 To many others, luxury seemed the opposite of cleanliness. One editor rejected luxury as the criterion for beauty and instead called for women always to have needle, thread, and an abundant supply of soap and water on hand.61 Using a question-and-answer format for didactic purposes, El Correo pondered the characteristics deemed most and least desirable in Porfirian women. Which woman was happiest with herself? She who used only soap and water at her dressing table. Who was the most virtuous woman? The one who occupied herself solely with her domestic tasks. Which was the best? The most humble. The ugliest? She who always looked at herself in the mirror. The most natural, simple, and innocent? She who loved children. The coquette was described as the most contemptible.62

Also apparent in the comments of many sharing the Porfirian persuasion was the belief that luxury in dress confused social boundaries. One commentator complained that anyone not knowing the locale and seeing the luxury of women’s dress at fiestas, dances, and parties would conclude that these women enjoyed material comforts and at least an average income. He maintained that such was not the case and that these women sacrificed their true needs in order to dress in such a manner. Women accepted hunger in order to wrap themselves in expensive cloth, moroccan leather, belts, and ribbons.63 Some described the spirit of luxury as a characteristic inherited from one’s parents. Once again, only proper education promised to free the present generation from the grasp of that vice.

Occasionally, reformers likened women’s modest behavior to a national virtue. One writer contrasted U.S. and Mexican women: seclusion and constant supervision, even vigilance, under Mother’s watchful eye produced the virtue of modesty in Mexican women. He asked, “Will the Mexican woman renounce this precious jewel that exalts her in everyone’s eyes?”64 Such a question seems to suggest a growing fear of women’s changing behavior. Modesty could cover many defects, and reformers viewed the timidity that accompanied modesty as one of the most beautiful adornments of the feminine sex. According to reformers, beauty without education led such women to believe themselves superior to all other women, viewing them with scorn. Suitable education promised to correct this fault.65

Beauty in women, moreover, threatened proper male and female roles in the conjugal home. Writing in El Hijo del Parmi, Dr. Manuel Flores characterized the family as woman’s supreme mission on earth. How is it, he asked, that beautiful women, always triumphant in the world, found it so difficult to “assail and conquer a home”? In his opinion, beauty “intoxicated” much like alcohol, transforming a woman from submissive to dominant, from humble to snobbish, from slave to empress. The husband of a beautiful woman knew that he could not be master in his own house, boss in his home (jefe en su hogar), guide and conductor of his family. Not only was the beautiful woman a luxury, she was dangerous. Flores maintained that men married in order to have a woman whose only thought was of them, who loved them exclusively, but beautiful women ended up marrying their own beauty. On the other hand, ugly women (las feas) felt obliged to be intelligent and instructed. Of perhaps greater importance, they easily accepted their modest position, their isolation from the world, and their reclusion in the home. Ugly women would not be distracted from maternal and wifely duties.66

Along with modesty and seclusion in the home, moral reformers described additional traits of the ideal mother. Not only did she embellish the home with her beauty, she was also to serve as guardian angel of her family. This entailed establishing domestic peace and contentment, sweetening the hours of suffering, and generously giving herself to husband and children. Middle-class males desired women to possess the trait of self-denial. The good mother sacrificed herself for her children. Even if she lived in opulence, surrounded by luxury, she should not abandon her children to a wet nurse unless physically unable to feed them herself. Far from losing her beauty through childrearing, the good mother would always remain beautiful and enchanting to those who adored her. El Correo added that a good mother formed Christian families that loved, feared, and worshiped God. Another writer described her as God on earth. She was the symbol of tenderness and the emblem of self-denial; a shield for sufferers, a guardian angel for children, and a redeeming arm for man.67

Other contributors offered advice to prospective mothers. One listed 15 points of child care, including advice on breastfeeding, cleanliness, and general sanitation, and admonished women not to bundle or restrict their babies’ movements.68 Another proffered 10 hygienic tips that combined characteristics of good motherhood with the work ethic: get up early, go to bed early, and keep busy during the day; the cleanest machines are those that last longest; adequate rest repairs and fortifies, too much rest debilitates; start to work at sun-up; the clean and happy house makes an agreeable home; if living by manual labor, do not forget to embellish your intelligence and expand your thoughts.69

The ideal woman advocated by middle-class Chihuahuans valued simplicity, openness, and virtue. Reformers contrasted her characteristics with those they regarded as unacceptable. Paralleling the ideal woman-bad woman division were dichotomies of simple-complicated, virtuous-degraded, open-deceptive, good-evil, and sociedad culta-gente baja. Desired characteristics could be acquired; order, economy, cleanliness, integrity, valor, abnegation, and resignation, through proper education, would replace envy, pride, vanity, worries, superstition, gossip, jealousy, and rancor.70

Basic differences between men and women necessitated women’s possession of these virtues. Married women could obtain lifelong happiness by acting as angels of peace, by not demanding the impossible, by providing tranquility, and by never being seen disheveled or in dirty clothes. In the domestic sphere prudence, tranquility, hidden sacrifices, and self-denial were the opposite of domestic storms and annoyances. As one woman correspondent stressed, in Mexico women married for love and to spend the rest of their lives beside the men they loved. Men, on the other hand, placed ambition, social position, and comfort before love.71

Women, indeed, also contributed to El Correo, often blaming neglectful wives for problems in the home and husbands’ indulgence in vice. The advice, gleaned from personal experience, that a few women shared with their literate compañeras in northern Mexican homes suggests a tremendous sense of female guilt. According to these texts, a good wife was expected to transform inept and lost single men into reliable husbands and magnificent fathers. This was accomplished by anticipating and catering to all their desires. How many husbands would not lead an orderly life, these women asked, if on returning home tired after work they found a caring reception and a table covered with simple, well-prepared food? Finally, if the husband should indulge in drink, the wife’s duty was to discover the reason and take action. Such action typically meant love and patience, followed by more love and patience. If she herself was to blame for his drinking, it was up to her to change. Many characterized matrimony not as liberty, luxury, or the opportunity to be rid of domineering parents but as a heavy burden requiring valor, virtue, and abnegation on the woman’s part. While heroic actions were not necessarily required for a marriage to work, continuous effort was needed, because the happiness and honor of the family rested almost completely in the hands of the wife.72

The Mirror of the Middle Class

In the United States at the turn of the century, concepts of race, marriage, family, motherhood, womanhood, and manhood were essential components of what Mark Thomas Connelly has referred to as “civilized morality.”73 The married woman stood at the focal point of these ideals. In Chihuahua, middle-class Mexicans added virtue, education, work, and moralization to their definition of civilized morality. The mother ensconced in the conjugal home seemed to stand at the core of enlightened thought. Mexican reformers stressed the role of the mother in educating future generations of suitably motivated, sufficiently patriotic Mexican workers.

Similarly, in the United States during the Progressive Era the middle-class family faced the possibility that a son or daughter might escape the confines of respectability to frequent saloons, brothels, theaters, gambling halls, boarding houses, and city streets. In his work on the U. S. urban masses, Paul Boyer suggests that the decision of members of the middle class to participate in moral reform might reflect less the wish to control others than the impulse toward self-definition, a need to avow publicly one’s own class aspirations.74

In Sex, Politics, and Society, Jeffrey Weeks thoroughly analyses the relationship between the domestic ideal and concepts of class in Britain. Weeks concludes that during the first half of the nineteenth century, the prime task of the emerging British ideology of home and family was less to influence others than to articulate the class-related feelings and experiences of the bourgeoisie itself. The domestic ideal became a “vital organising factor in the development of middle-classness, and in the creation of a differentiated class identity.”75 In Chihuahua, railing against alcohol, prostitution, gambling, and vagrancy, along with reaffirming the Catholic prescription of male and female roles, provided commentators with a means of articulating their refined status. Meanwhile, the cluster of qualities taken to characterize refined society—morality, education, virtue, family, motherhood, domesticity—furnished middle-class Mexicans with a means of class and self-definition.

In her work on mid-nineteenth-century France, Joan Scott alludes to the use of sexuality as part of a process of “class construction.”76 In France, middle-class self-definition included notions of sexual self-control that depended on opposite examples, or social “others.” For the writers Scott studied, the working class provided the social “other.” Middle-class Mexicans also viewed the working class as the social “other”; yet they advocated a class-defined vision of national development that was meant to mobilize and control the entire society. They expected their actions to have an impact on all social classes—elite, middle, working, and vagrant. They believed that antivice legislation and school attendance would reshape the future of the country. Members of the middle class criticized elite behavior and attitudes as well as the perceived lack of patriotism and duty in the working classes. They also scolded their own number: in many tracts against vice, middle-class drinkers, vagrants, and gamblers received especially harsh criticism because they provided poor moral examples for the lower orders.

Katherine Lynch notes this same universalizing feature of middle-class ideology in France during the first half of the nineteenth century. She concludes that the middle-class idea that workers need only adopt the values of the bourgeoisie in order to solve their problems was truly innovative. This belief would have no place in a society in which different classes were seen as “hierarchically organized groups with essentially different needs, mores, and aspirations.”77 In France, as later in Porfirian Mexico, middle-class social Catholics and moral reformers struggled to reduce the cultural differences between worker and bourgeois that seemed to threaten the future of their society. In Chihuahua, enlightened Porfirians enacted morals legislation, founded schools, pressured parents to ensure their children’s attendance, and advocated strengthening the mother’s role in the home. At stake, they believed, was the future of their country. Only through education could a new generation become part of a sociedad culta. Order and progress did not merely entail economic development; they also meant moralization and civilization of all social groups in the image of the middle class. In this way Mexico would become prosperous, civilized, and progressive.

The author would like to express his thanks to Utah State University for financial assistance that helped make the writing of this article possible. He is also grateful to Alan Knight, Richard Graham, Susan Deans Smith, Carolyn Sexton Roy, Robert McCaa, Leonard Rosenband, Roderick Barman, Donna J. Guy, and two anonymous HAHR reviewers for their comments and support.


Alan Knight uses the term developmentalist ideology to describe beliefs shared by respectable Porfirians and their critics, particularly an emphasis on time discipline, thrift, hard work, hygiene, and progress. See Knight, The Mexican Revolution, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986), 1:23, 84. On the inculcation of work discipline, see E. P. Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism," Past and Present 38 (1967). For the case of the Mexican working class and time discipline, see Alan Knight, “The Working Class and the Mexican Revolution, c. 1900–1920,” Journal of Latin American Studies 16 (May 1984), 51–97. Also on developmentalist ideology in Latin America, see David McCreery, “‘This Life of Misery and Shame’: Female Prostitution in Guatemala City, 1880–1920, Journal of Latin American Studies 18:2 (November 1986), 333–53.


This subject has an extensive historiography. Works consulted for the present study include Jeffrey Weeks, Sex, Politics, and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality Since 1800 (New York: Longman, 1981); Mary Gibson, Prostitution and the State in Italy, 1860–1915 (New Brunswick: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1986); Joan Wallach Scott, “Statistical Representations of Work: The Politics of the Chamber of Commerce’s Statistique de l’industrie à Paris, 1847–48,” in Work in France: Representations, Meaning, Organization, and Practice, ed. Steven Laurence Kaplan and Cynthia J. Koepp (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1986); Scott, “‘L’ouvrière! Mot impie, sordide . . .’: Women Workers in the Discourse of French Political Economy, 1840–1860,” in The Historical Meanings of Work, ed. Patrick Jovce (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1987); Helmut Gruber, “Sexuality in ‘Red Vienna’: Socialist Party Conceptions and Programs and Working-Class Life, 1920–34,” International Labor and Working-Class History 31 (Spring 1987), 37–68; Paul Boyer, Urban Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820–1920 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1978); Mark Thomas Connelly, The Response to Prostitution in the Progressive Era (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1980); Ellen Ross and Rayna Rapp, “Sex and Society: A Research Note from Social History and Anthropology,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 23 (Jan. 1981), 51–72; and Jed Dannenbaum, Drink and Disorder: Temperance Reform in Cincinnati from the Washingtonian Revival to the WCTU (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1984).


Weeks, Sex, Politics, and Society, 20.


Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1988), 60. For two recent surveys of developments in Mexican women’s history, see Asunción Lavrin, “La mujer en México: veinte años de estudio, 1968–1988. Ensayo historiográfico,” in Memorias del Simposio de Historiografía Mexicanista (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1990); and Carmen Ramos Escandón, “¿Que veinte años no es nada? La mujer en México según la historiografía reciente,” in the same volume.


Carmen Ramos Escandón, “Señoritas porfirianas: mujer e ideología en el México progresista, 1880–1910,” in Presencia y transparencia: la mujer en la historia de México, ed. Ramos Escandón et al. (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, Programa Interdisciplinario de Estudios de la Mujer, 1987), 149, 150, 152, 159. See also her working paper, “Gender Construction in a Progressive Society: Mexico, 1870–1917,” Texas Papers on Mexico no. 90–07 (Austin: Mexican Center, Institute of Latin American Studies, Univ. of Texas).


Jean-Pierre Bastian, “Modelos de mujer protestante: ideología religiosa y educación femenina, 1880–1910,” in Ramos Escandón, Presencia y transparencia, 173, 179. Much of Bastian s work is concerned with the impact of Protestantism on the new Mexican working class. His argument is most thoroughly represented in Los disidentes: sociedades protestantes y revolución en México, 1872–1911 (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1989)


Verena Radkau, “Por la debilidad de nuestro ser”; mujeres del pueblo en la paz porfiriana (Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Secretaría de Educación Pública, 1989), 87–90. For a fascinating view of womens domesticity and forced subservience in nineteenth-century Mexico, see Jean Franco, Plotting Women: Gender and Representation in Mexico (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1989), 79–101.


On eighteenth-century reform see Juan Pedro Viqueira Albán, ¿Relajados o reprimidos? Diversities públicas y vida social en la ciudad de México durante el Siglo de las Luces (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1987).


On women and education during the late colonial period and the first half of the nineteenth century, see Silvia Marina Arrom, The Women of Mexico City, 1790–1857 (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1985), 15–24.


Valles’ comments appear in Informe rendido por el Sr. Rodolfo Valles, jefe político del Distrito Hidalgo, Jan. 1, 1907, in Archivo Municipal, Hidalgo del Parrai (hereafter AM), caja 1907J. Figures on school attendance in Parrai are from the same document. For schools in other mining towns, see Noticia del 1° de enero 1906 al 31 mayo de 1906: noticia mensual que rinde el J[efe] Municipal] de San Francisco del Oro, 31 de mayo de 1906, AM, caja 1906C; Noticias mensuales—Villa Escobedo y Santa Bárbara, Apr. 1, 1906, AM, caja 1906H. For a discussion of the role of education in the inculcation of the work ethic, see Mary Kay Vaughan, “Primary Education and Literacy in Nineteenth-Century Mexico: Research Trends, 1968–1988,” Latin American Research Review 25:1 (1990), 31–66.


Text of a speech given by Luz Fernández M., Dec. 8, 1908, AM, caja 1908H. Silvia Arrom discusses the increased emphasis on motherhood at the end of the nineteenth century in Women of Mexico City, 261–63.


“De cal y arena,” El Hijo del Parral, July 3, 1898, p. 1, AM, caja 1900I. Laurence Rohlfes maintains that during the final decade of Porfirian rule, Mexico City residents also perceived an increasing “crime problem” in their city. “Police and Penal Correction in Mexico City, 1876–1911: A Study of Order and Progress in Porfirian Mexico” (Ph.D. diss., Tulane Univ., 1983), 139.


Jefe de la Seguridad Pública, Los Azules, to Jefe Político, Hidalgo District, June 21, 1904, AM, caja 1904G; Presidente Municipal, Santa Bárbara, to Jefe Político, June 25, 1904, AM, caja 1904O; Agustín Páez, Jefe Municipal, Santa Bárbara, to Jefe Político, Oct. 3, 1908, AM, caja 1908AA. For Villa Escobedo, see Presidente Municipal, Villa Escobedo, to Jefe Político, Sept. 27, 1904, and Nov. 9, 1904, AM, caja 1904C. Reports from San Francisco del Oro in Presidente Municipal, San Francisco del Oro, to Jefe Político, Apr. 13, 1906, AM, caja 1906C; Páez to Jefe Político, Jan. 2, 1911, AM, caja 1911B. On railroad workers, see J. J. Gutiérrez, Presidente Municipal, Santa Bárbara, to Jefe Político, Dec. 17, 1900, AM, caja 1900SUSY.


William E. French, “‘Peaceful and Working People’: The Inculcation of the Capitalist Work Ethic in a Mexican Mining District (Hidalgo District, Chihuahua),” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Texas, Austin, 1990), 60–65.


Figures in “Mexican Labor and Its Place in This Country,” El Paso Morning Times, Dec. 17, 1908, p. 8.


This phrase began to appear in Chihuahua newspapers and Hidalgo District reports soon after the turn of the century. For an early usage, see “El Ferro-Carril a Guanaceví. Emigración de trabajadores,” El Hijo del Parral, June 22, 1902, p. 1, AM, caja 1902D. The land grab that took place during the Porfiriato is also well studied. See Knight, Mexican Revolution, 1:95; Friedrich Katz, “Rural Rebellions After 1810,” in Riot, Rebellion, and Revolution: Rural Social Conflict in Mexico, ed. Katz (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1988), 533; John H. Coatsworth, “Railroads, Landholding, and Agrarian Protest in the Early Porfiriato,” HAHR 54:1 (Feb. 1974), 48–71. For the loss of village land in Chihuahua, see Mark Wasserman, Capitalists, Caciques, and Revolution: The Native Elite and Foreign Enterprise in Chihuahua, Mexico, 1854–1912 (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1984), 44–49; and Jane-Dale Lloyd, El proceso de modernización capitalista en el noroeste de Chihuahua (1880–1910) (Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana, 1987), 80, 100.


Percentage is from José Iturriaga as cited in Knight, Mexican Revolution, 1:43. For a discussion of the middle class in Chihuahua, see Wasserman, Capitalists, Caciques, and Revolution, 95–97.


“Ecos de Villa Escobedo,” El Padre Padilla (Chihuahua City), Nov. 15, 1905, p. 1, AM, caja 1906T.


For one such article, see “Las angustias del pueblo,” El Correo de Chihuahua, June 12, 1902, p. 1, University of Texas, Austin, Benson Latin American Collection, MF 479, reel x. All subsequent citations of El Correo are from the Benson Collection.


“El descanso dominical,” ibid., Dec. 2, 1903, p. 1.


Seven petitioners, Hidalgo del Parral, to Governor, Chihuahua, Jan. 22, 1906, AM, caja 1906X.


“Como debe ser un obrero,” El Correo, July 15, 1904, p. 3.


“Las clases trabajadores: cooperatión y ahorro,” La Nueva Era (Santa Bárbara), May 1, 1904, p. 1, AM, caja 1904F.


Material on social Catholicism is from Jorge Adame Goddard, El pensamiento político y social de los católicos mexicanos, 1867–1914 (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1981), 117, 145–49, 190–91, 206, 219.


In Hidalgo District, liberal papers such as El Hijo del Parral and La Nueva Era devoted considerable attention to these issues. Goddard puts it as follows: “El tema de la ‘desmoralización de las masas’ fue un tópico tratado constantemente por católicos y liberales [The theme of the ‘corruption of the masses’ was a topic treated constantly by Catholics and liberals].” El pensamiento político, 206; see also 114–15.


Luis Lara y Pardo, La prostitución en México (Mexico City: Librería de la Vda. de Ch. Bouret, 1908), 73, 88–90, 108, 146–47.


Ibid., 25, 26, 39, 48.


Ibid., 39, 57–58, 115, 120–21. For a further discussion of Lara y Pardo and prostitution in Mexico see Carlos Monsivais, “La mujer en la cultura mexicana,” in Mujer y sociedad en América Latina, ed. Lucía Guerra-Cunningham (Irvine: Univ. of California, Editorial del Pacifico, 1980), 101–17.


Gibson, Prostitution and the State in Italy, 20.


J. S. de Anda, “La mujer trabajadora y los haraganes,” El Correo, Oct. 18, 1905, p. 2. For a contrast between city and countryside, see “Siempre el alcohol,” El Correo, Nov. 8, 1905, p. 1.


On Hidalgo del Parral, see Borrador de Acuerdos del Avuntamiento—1900: Sesión ordinaria del día 21 de abril de 1900, AM, caja 1900 Legislatión. On the Tolerance Regulation in Chihuahua City, see “En el ayuntamiento,” El Correo, Sept. 26, 1903, p. 1, “El reglamento de tolerancia,” ibid., Sept. 27, 1903, p. 1, and Oct. 3, 1903, p. 1. Many of these regulations resembled those passed in Buenos Aires in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For a discussion of prostitution in Buenos Aires, see Donna ]. Guy, “Prostitution and Female Criminality in Buenos Aires, 1875–1937,” in The Problem of Order in Changing Societies: Essays on Crime and Policing in Argentina and Uruguay, 2750-1940, ed. Lyman L. Johnson (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1990), 94, 96, 106, 107. See also Guy, “White Slavery, Public Health, and the Socialist Position on Legalized Prostitution in Argentina, 1913–1936,” Latin American Research Review 23:3 (1988), 60–80.


See the following, all in El Correa·. “Un decreto del Congreso del Estado,” July 3, 1903, p. 1; “¡Ahora o nunca!,” June 21, 1903, p. 1; “Decreto sobre las cantinas,” July 8, 1903, p. 1; “Reglamento de cantinas, July 9, 1903, p. 2; “Las cantinas,” July 15, 1903, p. 1. On gambling, see “Las primeras medidas,” June 4, 1903, p. 1; “Un decreto del Congreso del Estado,” July 3, 1903, p. 1; “Reglamento de juego,” July 9, 1904, p. 2; and “Reglamento de juego,” July 11, 1904, p. 2.


“Contra el alcoholismo (discurso pronunciado por su autor en la velada que organizó la Liga Antialcohólica en el Teatro de los Héroes),’’ El Correa, Dec. 14, 1906, p. 2. For a discussion of Creel’s 1906 regulations, see Moisés González Navarro, “La vida social,” in Historia moderna de México: el porfiriato, by Daniel Cosío Villegas, 9 vols. (Mexico City: Editorial Hermes, 1957), 4:79.


John J. Rumbarger discusses the relationship between national prohibition and the inculcation of the capitalist work ethic in the United States. See Profits, Power, and Prohibition: Alcohol Reform and the Industrializing of America, 1800–1930 (Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1989), 80, 113, 116, 117, 169, 190.


Miguel Domínguez to Ayuntamiento, Parral, Aug. 4, 1903, AM, caja 1903E.


Cinco vecinos al C. C. Presidente y Vocales del C. Ayuntamiento del Hidalgo del Parral, July 21, 1903, in Expediente que contiene negocios correspondientes al mes de julio, ario 1903, Parral, AM, caja 1903H. See also “Necesidad de reglamentar la prostitution,” El Hijo del Parral, Apr. 30, 1899, p. 2, AM, caja 1900I; and “? A dónde podrían ser trasladas?” El Correo, Dec. 17, 1907, p. 1.


Mary Kay Vaughan, The State, Education, and Social Class in Mexico, 1880–1928 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois Univ. Press, 1982), 22–38. See also idem., “Women, Class, and Education in Mexico, 1880–1928,” Latin American Perspectives 12–13 (1977), 150–68.


“¿La taberna o el hogar?” El Correo, Feb. 15, 1908, p. 1.


For three references to this transformation, see Demaistre, “La mujer,” El Correo, July 5’ 1902, p. 4; “Brujas en Parral,” La Nueva Era, Mar. 5, 1903, p. 6, AM, caja 1903C; and de Anda, “La mujer trabajadora y los haraganes.”


Demaistre, “La mujer.”


“El trabajo y la mujer,” El Hijo del Parral, Apr. 16, 1905, p. 1, AM, caja 1905D. Jean-Baptiste Say used the term natural dependents to refer to women and children. Quoted in Joan W. Scott, “Statistical Representations of Work,” 354. Scott also discusses how the meaning of worker was established through a contrast between “natural” qualities of men and women. Gender and the Politics of History, 175.


Donald Reid, The Miners of Decazeville: A Genealogy of Deindustrialization (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1985), 38. For stages of discipline in French industry, see Michelle Perrot, “The Three Ages of Industrial Discipline in Nineteenth-Century France,” in Consciousness and Class Experience in Nineteenth-Century Europe, ed. John M. Merri-man (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1979).


“Influencia de la madre en la educación de sus hijos,” El Correo, Nov. 7, 1904, p. 2.


Zuleiman, “La educatión de la mujer y su estado civil,” El Hijo del Parral, Mar. 30, 1902, p. 1, AM, caja 1903; Rafael Martínez, Educación del pueblo como medio; progreso de la patria como fin,” El Hijo del Parral, Dec. 17, 1905, p. 1, AM, caja 1906G. For a petition against sending female students to male teachers, see Miguel Armendáriz, Jefe Municipal, Balleza, to Jefe Político, Hidalgo District, Apr. 16, 1906, AM, caja 1906Y.


Quoted in Doctor Salustio, “La mujer tal como debe ser: resultados de la buena educación. Delicias verdaderas del hogar,” El Correo, Jan. 18, 1906, p. 2.


Mark Thomas Connelly observes that during the Progressive Era, prostitution reformers in the United States shared these assumptions. See Response to Prostitution, 23. Note also the similarity of views on the role of habit between Lara y Pardo and those dealing with education. For Lara y Pardo, habit and example explained why working-class women became prostitutes.


“El gran problema: la educación de la familia,” El Correo, Nov. 7, 1902, p. 1.


“La educación de los hijos de millonarios,” El Hijo del Parral, Feb. 18, 1906, p. 2, AM, caja 1906R. Another allegorical story is found in “¡Viva el trabajo!” El Hijo del Parral, Dec. 8, 1901, p. 1, AM, caja 1902G.


Aurelia Torres, Escuela Industrial para Señoritas, Parral, to Jefe Político, Hidalgo District, Jan. 18, 1908, AM, caja 1908B. The founding of the school is discussed by Luz Fernández M. in her speech, Dec. 8, 1908, AM, caja 1908H.


J. S. de Anda, “Las mujeres sin educatión,” El Correo, Oct. 27, 1904, p. 2. Verena Radkau makes the same point regarding the conservative consequences of educating women. See Por la debilidad, 42.


“Las buenas madres,” El Correo, Sept. 30, 1902, p. 1; “Las madres de familia,” ibid., May 16, 1903, p. 2.


“El gran problema”; “Las madres de familia.”


Mary Gibson draws similar conclusions in her study of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italy. See Prostitution and the State in Italy, 22.


The term is found in “Educar a la mujer para el hogar,” El Correo, Sept. 3, 1903, p. 2.


Doctor Salustio, “La mujer tal como debe ser.”


“Temas: la educación de la mujer—pensamientos del Doctor Rivera,” El Correo, Jan. 22, 1902, p. 1.


Páez to Jefe Político, Hidalgo District, Dec. 10, 1907, in Expediente: varios correspondientes al mes de diciembre 1907, AM, caja 1907H.


S. Terrazas actively opposed prostitution and luxury in a column titled “Esas. . ..” See “Prostitución y libertinaje: la ostentación del vicio,” El Correo, July 22, 1902, p. 1; “Las mesalinas,” ibid., Sept. 3, 1903, p. 1; and “Esas. . .,” Oct. 20, 1903, p. 1; Mar. 17, 1904, p. l; Mar. 18, 1904, p. 1; May 14, 1904, p. 1; Sept. 7, 1905, p. 1.


For a discussion of the discourse surrounding clothing in another context, see Mariana Valverde, “The Love of Finery: Fashion and the Fallen Woman in Nineteenth-Century Social Discourse,” Victorian Studies 32:2 (Winter 1989), 168-88.


María, “Para las señoritas: el matrimonio,” El Correo, Sept. 21, 1905, p. 2.


Soledad Acosta de Samper, “La mujer en su casa,” El Correo, Sept. 11, 1905, p. 2.


“Diálogos acerca de la mujer,” El Correo, July 20, 1904, p. 3.


“Uno de nuestros defectos,” El Correo, May 12, 1905, p. 2. William H. Beezley coined the phrase Porfirian persuasion to refer to the Mexican elite and their belief in progress and efficiency. See Judas at the Jockey Club and Other Episodes of Porfirian Mexico (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1987), 13.


“La modestía de la mujer mexicana,” El Correo, Mar. 8, 1902, p. 1.


“El amor y la mujer,” El Correo, Aug. 27, 1902, p. 1; Doctor Salustio, “La mujer tal como debe ser.”


Dr. Manuel Flores, “Bellas y feas: ¿quienes son más virtuosas y felices?” El Hijo del Parral, Apr. 13, 1902, p. 1, AM, caja 1902G.


Woman as guardian angel of the home was a dominant theme of reform rhetoric. For two examples, see Dolores B. de Bustamante, “Temas: educación de la mujer,” El Correo, Mar. 4, 1902, p. 1; Zuleiman, “La educación de la mujer y su estado civil.” Reference to good mothers forming Christian families can be found in "Las buenas madres.” For mother as God on earth, see Vesper, “La madre,” El Correo, Oct. 31, 1904, p. 2.


“Lo que debe saber una buena madre,” El Correo, Nov. 17, 1904, p. 2.


"Diez notas de higiene,” El Correo, Mar. 20, 1905, p. 2.


For an article that touches upon all these themes, see Doctor Salustio, “La mujer tal como debe ser.”


Acosta de Samper, “La mujer en su casa.”


María, “Para las señoritas.”


Connelly, Response to Prostitution, 75.


Boyer, Urban Masses, 61.


Weeks, Sex, Politics, and Society, 28.


Scott, “Statistical Representations of Work,” 362, esp. n. 83.


Katherine A. Lynch, Family, Class, and Ideology in Early Industrial France: Social Policy and the Working-Class Family, 1825-1848 (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1988), 8.