When Pancho Villa joined the political and social revolution against the dictatorship in Mexico that started in 1910, he knew whom to call.
Yes, the early American movie industry jumped at the unorthodox general's invitation to produce some of history's first film footage of war as it was being fought, a genre that still scores big at the box office and on television a full century later.
Stanford University will put this tidbit of history on Villa's revolutionary showmanship -- along with more on Mexico's bicentennial, which marks the 1810 war of independence -- on display Monday. With a concurrent exhibit at UC Berkeley, "Celebrating Mexico: The Grito of Dolores and the Mexican Revolution 1810/1910/2010" will showcase the extensive Mexican collections at the universities.
Stanford's Green Library will offer close-up views of rare revolutionary posters, books and documents. One of them is a copy of Mexico's 1824 Constitution, which was inspired in part by the U.S. Constitution.
Visitors to the Peterson Gallery can see photographs of female revolutionaries -- "mujeres valientes" -- on horseback wearing bandoleers, and shots of children helping in camps. The images show how women and children contributed to the second revolution, but also how they were exploited.
To show how the 1910 revolution captured the American imagination, the exhibit offers picture postcards, real estate marketing booklets and Hollywood images from film. It also includes a rare, dusty copy of "Insurgent Mexico," by John Reed, the noted war correspondent who was "embedded" with Villa's army.
Across the bay, UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library features original documents and books depicting the complicated politics of the first revolution and everyday Mexican culture at the time. Other original materials explore the "unfinished" issues that sparked the second revolution -- the rights of Indians and workers, land reform, equal education and the disparity between the rich and poor.
The university libraries have produced an 80-page catalog for sale featuring essays and reproductions of items in the exhibit. "Celebrating Mexico" at Stanford will run through Jan. 16.
For more information, go to www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/hasrg/latinam/celebmex/index.html.
Contact Joe Rodriguez at 408-920-5767.