Prof. Leobard Estrada

The Mexican Revolution of 1910, social and political in nature, resulted in the estimated loss of more than 3 million Mexicans by the year 1921.  The demographic and historic dilemma lies in the following paradigm:
How many died and migrated? What routes or migratory patterns where taken?

By consulting census data of 1910 (pre-revolution) to the following census taken in 1921 (post-revolutionary violent phase) one may be able to detect some patterns of migration by mapping selected data.

In the first map:
Population Variation in Absolute Numbers from 1910 to 1921

what I will call "The Revolutionary Corridor" stands-out (in red).  An increase in absolute population is also clear (in light and dark green).  All federal entities showing an increase are geographically located along the coasts and repelled to the fighting zones, with only two exceptions: Distrito Federal and Coahuila.


Map 1

Distrito Federal - The case of the nation's capital is particularly obvious.  The Federal Distric increased by 185,310 in population from 1910 to 1921, an increase of roughly 20% of its previously recorded population.  This entity was (and continues to be) the head of the federal government.  All major revolutionary leaders and factions were in posession of Mexico City at one point in time during that 11 year interval of 1910 to 1921.

Coahuila - This case is not as simple and obvious as the case of Mexico City.  An increase in revolutionary Coahuila can only be explained by its communication's system.  That is, its railroad.  Coahuila constituted at the time of revolution one of the states with higher total railroad kilometers and thus an optimal location for a get-away.  Based on observational patterns, I assume that a portion of Coahuila's population in 1921 (and at lesser extent the other border states) was of migratory origin from bellic states.
(However, further research on South and Southeast Texas census data shall enlight this hypothesis)


Map 2:
Population Variation in Percentage from 1910 to 1921
shows not only a different angle, but a completely different pattern.  One can see a heavy decrease (from 21 to 40%) in the states of Durango, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas (in orange).  The adjacent states of Aguascalientes, Guanajuato and Estado de México (in yellow) also show a decrease (from 11 to 20%).  All of these states were contained within the "Revolutionary Corridor" previously mentioned (in Map 1).  The entities that present a rather interesting pattern are: Morelos, Baja California (North District) and Tamaulipas.  The first two show a dramatic decrease (in red), while the latter presents the highest increase in the North (in dark green).

Map 2

Morelos - The home state of Emiliano Zapata.  It is interesting to notice that, besides Baja California (Distrito Norte), it is the state which presents the highest decrease in population from 1910 to 1921 (42%).  It is indeed one of the states that hosted many revolutionary battles.  Migration seems less possible in this case.

Baja California (Distrito Norte) - This state presents the highest decrease in population percentage, more than 50%.  It is obvious to predict that, in its majority, this population migrated North to California (especially when a high increase in population was present in Imperial County, just north of its capital city Mexicali).  It is also interesting to notice that during the revolutionary years Baja California was not connected to the national railroad system.

Tamaulipas - Here one begins to see a pattern that will become more concise in the following map.  This states presents one of the highest increases in population during the revolutionary years, while other bellic states present a modest increase, little decrease or dramatic depopulation.  A further study of the 1910 and 1920 Texas census (at the county level) shall determine this migratory trend.


Map 3:
Population Variation by Age - 1910 (11 to 20 yrs. old) to 1921 (21 to 30 yrs. old) presents yet another interesting angle of reflection upon the migratory dilemma of the Mexican Revolution of 1910.  Assuming that the majority of the male "revolucionarios" were in the age bracket between 21 and 30 years old, looking at this pattern strongly supports the previous analysis on the state of Tamaulipas.

Map 3

Nuevo Leon -  Interesting to notice two factors in this state:  First, it only connects with the Texas border in a few miles (which had no connection to the railroad system northbound) and second, that its neighhbor state Tamaulipas presents the highest increase in population (besides Mexico City).


Looking at population patterns, with a previous knowledge of the communications system, tells us some possible migratory patterns during the Mexican Revolution of 1910.  It seems as the State of Tamaulipas was the state with better chances of migration for the following reasons:

1) It's border connected to the arteries of the state of Texas (Brownsville and Laredo).  Both of these border cities connected to the Texas communications system, leading quickly to rich agricultural areas and most importantly away from battle).
2) Geographically Chihuahua, Coahuila and Sonora constitute mostly mountains and deserts.  Migrants avoided the Mexican Northern Deserts by going through the state of Tamaulipas.
3) The state presented a lower chance of battle and federal/constitutional armed forces, compared to the other border states (The Revolutionary Corridor).

Thus, with the following project of mapping the demographic changes in Southwest Texas from the 1910 and 1920 census, one will be able to see this hypothetical pattern of migration.