Although her passion was dance, one day she decided to concentrate on history, but not as a bookworm, but doing field work picking up testimonies of those who lived events as Revolution or Cristera war.


Fifty years later, Alicia Olivera de Bonfil, pioneer of oral files in Mexico, celebrates five decades dedicated to historiography: “I have had many friends and colleagues who taught me countless things, without them, I could not have been able to conduct work”.

During the homage presented by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) through its Direction of Historical Studies (DEH), the teacher was accompanied by colleagues, friends and family: husband, architect Ramon Bonfil, children Martin and Alicia, sisters and other relatives.

INAH Emeritus Professor and founder of DEH in 1959, Alicia Olivera remembered several projects in which she participated, such as verifying Cuauhtemoc remains’ authenticity.

“We sailed Usumasinta River to reach remote towns and recover oral tradition regarding Cuauhtemoc; we found enormous ants under the carved stone that was supposedly his tomb, we were bit, but results were worth it. This research formed us as historians”.

The author of several books related to Cristera war, Revolution and Cuauhtemoc evoked her teacher Wigberto Jimenez Moreno, from who she learned importance of research work.

“In 1969 we began field work to integrate a Revolution oral file, so future researchers could consult testimonies from the main characters. Eugenia Meyer and I proposed this project, being innovative because this was not done in the historic field”.

These voices bring in a different perspective of Mexican Revolution, and in the other hand, Cristeros study allowed knowing counterrevolution, an important aspect of Contemporary history of Mexico.

“Revolution has been a manipulated issue; this is why oral history is so important, because it gathers testimonies aside politic and ideological interests, of people that suffered and were there”.  

Besides INAH Oral History Program, which she coordinated until 1983, Alicia Olivera directed 20th Century Agrarian Movements Seminar until 1989. To present she is “C” titular researcher at DEH.

Author of texts such as El conflicto religioso de 1926 a 1929, sus antecedentes y consecuencias (Religious Conflict from 1926 to 1929, Antecedents and Consequences), published in 1966 and re edited in 1987 as part of the Cien de Mexico collection by Ministry of Public Education (SEP), the professor works in an analysis and research project of Post Revolutionary politicians’ testimonies (1910-1940) for its publication.

During the homage, several historians remarked Alicia Olivera 50-year labor, among them, Eugenia Meyer, Laura Espejel, Salvador Rueda, Felipe Avila, Gerardo Necoechea, Ricardo Perez Monfort and Antonio Garcia de Leon.