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Interpreting the Evidence

Woman Making Tortillas, Mexico, 1927

  • 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 Woman Making Tortillas, Mexico, 1927 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A woman making tortillas, Mexico, 1927.
Historical Context
In Mexico, Indian women are so experienced at making tortillas that they are able to form the dough into flat circles using only the palms of their hands.

Making tortillas from scratch requires several time-consuming steps:

     1. Remove kernels from corn.
     2. Boil white corn grain with slaked lime overnight.
     3. Discard the liquid and wash the kernels.
     4. Use a pestle to grind the corn, adding water to produce a pliable dough.
     5. Form the dough into small balls, then flatten them into thin, round pancakes (or use a tortillas press).
     6. On a hot griddle, cook the tortillas for 30-60 seconds on each side.

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
Find (or order) maseca flour and make tortillas. Research traditional fillings for tortillas, fill them, and hold a taste test for the class.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math and Science: Purchase different types of tortillas and do blind taste tests. Tabulate and graph the results. Analyze favorites based on ingredients, nutritional value, etc.
English Language Arts: Write a persuasive letter to a tortilla manufacturer suggesting ways to improve its product based on the results of the taste tests.