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Interpreting the Evidence

Houses, near Monterey, Mexico, c. 1920s

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Global History and Geography

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:


  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Houses, near Monterey, Mexico, c. 1920s in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Homes of lower income Mexicans on the plain near Monterey around the 1920s.
Historical Context
Historically, a wide gap has existed between the rich and the poor in Mexico.  Even in the time of the Aztecs and Maya, class systems existed that divided the wealthy from the poor, with little hope for the poor to rise in social class.  The Spanish conquest of Mexico made the situation much worse.  Corrupt officials built their fortunes at the expense of the natives.  When Mexico won its independence from Spain, the system of corruption was so entrenched in society that it is a problem even today.  The problem of poverty in Mexico is made worse by the country’s rapid growth in population and high national debt.  As of 2002, Mexico had the third greatest concentration of wealth of any country in the world; the richest ten percent of Mexicans own 42% of the wealth, while the poorest ten percent of the people possess only 1.3% of the wealth.  Nearly half or more of Mexican citizens live in poverty.  Mexico's economic crisis is a difficult problem that needs solutions.
Essential Question
How does geography influence culture and economy?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the role of geography in the development of culture and economy.
Historical Challenges
Choose a country in the world that is considered to be wealthy. Research what that country has done to fight poverty. Have the same methods for fighting poverty been tried in Mexico? Do you think any of those methods would work in Mexico?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: If the population of Mexico in 2006 was 107.5 million, and about half of the population live in poverty, about how many Mexicans live in poverty?
Math: About 18 million Mexicans live on about a dollar a day. If you received a dollar a day and could save half of it to buy a house, how long would it take to save enough money to purchase a house in your neighborhood?
Science: Research the climate and landscape around Monterey, Mexico. What materials do you think are used to build the houses in this photograph? Are the houses suitable to the climate?
English Language Arts: Write a paragraph explaining what you think could be done to reduce poverty in the world.