Federico Idar and Idar Family Papers, 1879-1938
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.
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.
Standard copyright restrictions apply.
Cite as: Federico Idar and Family Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin.
Accession numbers: 2003-25, 2006-09
Box and Folder Inventory