The Benson Latin American Collection

Federico Idar and Idar Family Papers, 1879-1938

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Idar, Federico
Title: Federico Idar and Idar Family Papers
Dates: 1879-1938
Abstract: Correspondence, photographs, printed material, and artifacts (1879-1938) document the lives of Mexican Senator Federico Idar (1893-1938) and the Idar family of Laredo and San Antonio, Texas.
Accession No.: 2003-25
OCLC Record No.: 163577294
Extent: 2.7 linear feet
Language: Spanish and English
Repository: Benson Latin American Collection, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Federico Idar (1893-1938), railroad union leader and Mexican Senator, was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico on May 2, 1893. His father, Nicasio Idar, established railroad workers’ unions in San Luis Potosí and Nuevo Laredo, and later became the editor and owner of the daily newspaper La Crónica in Laredo, Texas. Although he grew up in Laredo with the rest of the Idar family, upon reaching adulthood Federico Idar chose to retain his Mexican citizenship and return to the country of his birth. Idar worked as a brakeman on the Mexican national railways in the 1910s and 20s. Like his father and his brother, AFL organizer Clemente Idar, Federico Idar was drawn to the labor movement. By the late 1920s he was director of the Comité General de Ajustes of the Unión General de Conductores, Maquinistas, Garroteros y Fogoneros. Idar also followed in the footsteps of his father Nicasio by joining the Masonic order.

In the 1930s, Idar shifted his focus from union management and administration to state and national politics. Idar opposed the dominant party, the Partido Nacional Revolucionario (PNR), first by aiding General Fortunato Zuazua’s unsuccessful campaign for Governor of Nuevo León in 1935, and then through his own successful campaign for the Mexican Senate in 1936. Historian Michael Snodgrass described Idar as “the most heralded working-class politician of his time in Monterrey, one who garnered votes from union and non-union workers of all political persuasions.” Despite his allegiance to the Partido Liberal (at that time a small party without much political power), Idar proved to be very popular in Mexico City as well, and rose to a position of leadership in the Senate very quickly—within a year he was elected Senate President.

Federico Idar was murdered in Mexico City on March 12, 1938. The crime is believed to have been politically motivated. His alleged assassin, Francisco Arce, had been an employee of former President and PNR member Emilio Portes Gil. After Idar’s death, his wife and five children moved to San Antonio, Texas.

The Idar family, a Mexican American family based in Laredo, and later San Antonio, Texas, has included newspaper publishers, union leaders, lawyers, politicians, and social activists. They have been prominent members of their local communities and advocates for Mexican Americans across the United States. One family member, Federico Idar, chose to live and work in Mexico. Other members of the Idar family who are notable for their accomplishments in public life include Nicasio Idar, publisher of Laredo newspaper La Crónica; Jovita Idar, writer, editor, and educator; Clemente Idar, AFL organizer; Eduardo Idar, newspaper owner, and his son, Ed Idar Jr., civil rights lawyer. Many Idars have been members of the Masonic order.


  • "El Senador Federico Idar, Muerto a Balazos." Excelsior (Mexico City, Mex.) March 13, 1938.
  • “Hubo un Plan a Matar a Idar.” Excelsior (Mexico City, Mex.) March 14,1938.
  • Snodgrass, Michael. Deference and Defiance in Monterrey: Workers, Paternalism, and Revolution in Mexico, 1890-1950. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Scope and Contents Note

Correspondence, photographs, artifacts, certificates, clippings, periodicals, books, and broadsides, 1879-1938, comprise the Federico Idar and Idar Family Papers. The collection is divided in two subgroups, Federico Idar and Idar Family, which are further subdivided in three and four series, respectively.

In the Federico Idar subgroup:

Series One, Correspondence (1911-1928), includes personal correspondence, which is filed by date, as well as professional. Professional correspondence is filed according to the organization referred to in the letters. For example, copies of correspondence sent by or to Idar at the Comité General de Ajustes are filed under that name.

The second series, Photographs and Drawings (1928-1938), is composed mostly of photographs from Idar’s political career, with many group shots taken with other Senators at meetings and banquets. There is also a hand-drawn caricature of Idar.

Printed Material (1918-19), the third series, includes broadsides, clippings, legal documents, cards, notes and speeches. In addition, there are over a dozen issues of Fiat Lux, official organ of the Unión de Conductores, Maquinistas, Garroteros y Fogoneros, dating between 1918 and 1931.

In the Idar Family subgroup:

Series four, Correspondence (1914-1938), is filed by the name of the family member. Correspondence between two family members has been filed under the name of the younger person. This was done in part to keep all of the correspondence associated with Francisca Idar’s (wife of Federico) bereavement together. Note that correspondence with Federico Idar is filed in subgroup one with the Federico Idar Papers.

The fifth series, Photographs (1916, 1923), consists only of a photograph of Laura (wife of Clemente) Idar and her children, a portrait of Mexican President Venustiano Carranza inscribed to Jovita Idar, and one unidentified photograph.

Printed Material (1879-1937), the sixth series, includes certificates and deeds related to Nicasio Idar's activities as a Freemason and as a Justice of the Peace in Laredo. Also in this series is a family bible that probably dates to the nineteenth century. Please note that this bible is in extremely fragile condition; the record of family births and deaths found in the bible has been removed and placed in its own folder for ease of access (see Box 4, Folder 18).

The last series, Oversized Material (1920-1935), includes material from both subgroups. Broadsides and other printed materials, including oversized issues of Fiat Lux, from the Federico Idar Papers are filed here. Some certificates and deeds from the Idar Family Papers are also in this series. There are also eight Masonic garments (collars and aprons), some of which have been identified as belonging to Nicasio Idar. Please note that many of the textiles are fragile and should be handled with care.


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Standard copyright restrictions apply.

Index Terms

The Federico Idar and Family Papers are classified under the following Subject Headings:
Idar, Federico--Archives.
Unión de Conductores, Maquinistas, Garroteros y Fogoneros.
Labor Unions--Mexico.
Labor Union Members--Mexico.
Railroads--Employees--Labor Unions--Mexico.
Mexico--Congreso--Cámara de Senadores.
Mexico--Politics and Government--1910-1946.
Nuevo León (Mexico: State)--History--20th Century.

Related Material

Additional material related to the Idar family can be found in the Clemente N. Idar Papers and Eduardo Idar Jr. Papers.Correspondence between Clemente and Federico Idar can also be found in the Clemente N. Idar Papers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Federico Idar and Idar Family Papers, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

Acquisition Information

Accession numbers: 2003-25, 2006-09

Box and Folder Inventory

Federico Idar, 1911-1938

1 Correspondence, 1911-1928, undated
1 Personal, 1911-1927
2 Personal, 1928-1935
3 Personal, 1936-1938, undated
4 Agrupación Ferrocarrilera Antireelectionista (AFA), 1928, 1934
5 Comité General de Ajustes, May 1928
6 Comité General de Ajustes, August 1928
7 Ejército Constitucionalista, 1914
8 Freemasons, 1920-1937, undated
9 Senado de México, 1938, undated
10 Sindicato de Trabajadores, 1935
11 Unión de Conductores, Maquinistas, Garroteros y Fogoneros, 1912-1927
12 Unión de Conductores, Maquinistas, Garroteros y Fogoneros, January 1928
box folder
2 1 Unión de Conductores, Maquinistas, Garroteros y Fogoneros, 1928-1934, undated
Photographs and Drawings, 1928-1938, undated
2 Banquets, 1936-1937
3 Idar at Alianza de Trabajadores Meeting, 1937
4 Idar at Unidentified Meeting, undated
5 Idar campaigning for Gen. Zuazua, 1935
6 Idar in Cámara del Deputados, 1936-1938
7 Idar in Cañitas and Torreón, 1936
8 Idar in Group Picture at Club France, Mexico City, 1937
9 Idar in Veracruz, 1936-1937
10 Idar Meeting With Other Senators, undated
11 Idar Portrait, 1936
12 Idar Touring Unidentified Location, undated
13 Idar Watching Independence Day Parade, 1937
14 Idar's Diploma de Honor, 1937
15 Idar's Funeral and Grave, 1938
16 Reception at Tlaxcala, 1933
17 STFRM Convention, 1934
18 Unión de Conductores, Maquineros, Garroteros y Fogoneros, 1928, 1937
19 Drawing of Idar, undated
Printed Material, 1918-1938, undated
20 Broadsides and Flyers, c.1932-1936, undated
[See also OS 1]
* Circulars and Other Printed Material, 1922-1923
* located in Box OS 1
21 Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen Magazine, January 1922
22 Clippings, 1931, 1936, undated
box folder
3 1 Essays and Reports, 1925-1936
2 Fiat Lux, 1918-1925
[See Also OS 1]
3 Fiat Lux, Jan-May 1929
4 Fiat Lux, June 1929-1931
5 Freemasonry, 1920-1937, undated
[See Also OS 2]
6 League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Constitution, 1929
7 Legal Documents, 1927-1936
8 Letterhead, c.1936-1938
9 Menu and Invitations, 1937-1938, undated
10 New Year's Cards, 1936-1938
11 Notes and Speeches, 1879, 1922, 1936, undated
box folder
4 1-2 Plays, Hymns and Sermons, 1924-1948
[2 folders]
box folder
OS 1 El Monitor, 1936 October

Idar Family Papers, 1879-1938

4 Correspondence, 1914-1938
3 Clemente Idar, 1920
4 Clementina Idar, 1936-1938
5 Eduardo Idar, 1938
6 Francisca Idar, 1925-1938
7 Guadalupe Idar, 1932-1938
8 Nicolasa Idar, 1938
9 Emilia Vivero, 1914, 1922, 1938
10 Jovita L. de Vivero, 1936-1938
11 Moisés Vivero, 1934, 1938
12 Nicolasa G. de Vivero, 1920-1923
Photographs, 1916, 1923, undated
13 Laura Idar and Children, 1923
14 Unidentified Man, undated
15 Venustiano Carranza, 1916
Printed Material, 1879-1937, undated
16 Certificates and Deeds, 1892-1913
[See Also OS 2]
17 Clippings, 1879, undated
18 Family Record, undated
19 Mother's Day and Other Cards, 1927-1937, undated
box folder
5 Family Bible, undated
Belonged to Jovita Vivero Idar from her father Abraham Vivero.
Please note that this bible is in extremely fragile condition; the record of family births and deaths found in the bible has been removed and placed in its own folder for ease of access (see Box 4, Folder 18).
OS 1 Oversized Material, 1920-1935
1 Correspondence, Circulars and Other Printed Material, 1922-1923
2 Newspapers and Magazines, 1920, 1936
3 Broadsides, 1932-1935, undated
4 Masonic Aprons and Collars, undated
box folder
OS 2 1 Photographs, 1927, undated
2 Federico Idar Freemasonry, 1910-1921
3 Idar Family Certificates and Deeds, 1892-1913
box folder
OS 3 1 Caricatures of Mexican Senators