Semester of Graduation



Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Women’s contributions during the violent phase of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) have historically been kept in the shadows. When stories of their heroism were finally brought to light, what emerged was a new brand of heroine: the soldadera. She was either a loyal camp follower or a brave soldier. These women’s stories are remarkable, but the contributions of other women were often overlooked because they did not fit the soldadera mold. Some of those women were journalists and activists, others were nurses. As time has passed, these other women have also received their due credit for their involvement in the Revolution.

This thesis, however, focuses on the heroines of the Revolution that are still to this day overlooked. It begins with an analysis of the illegal beginnings of two grassroots nursing organizations in order highlight how humanitarian efforts are not seen as illegal or illicit in times of war, but these organizations were founded in support of leaders that were enemies of the Mexican government. By using nursing as a cornerstone, we can understand how women who were drug smugglers, weapon runners, and bootleggers are still overlooked in favor of more politically acceptable feminine roles, despite how sometimes those more acceptable roles are equally illegal or illicit. This thesis argues that continuing to ignore the contributions of these women because their participation was illicit according to the law then established does a disservice to the memory of all women who participated. It ignores the way women were in part responsible for the success of the Revolution, particularly those who used their femininity to cross the border and smuggle guns to arm rebel forces. Finally, it argues that in the larger revolutionary narrative, the participation of all rebel women was illicit, and it is problematic to leave any women out because their participation did not fit a particular version of social change. Women who were drug smugglers and bootleggers were just as revolutionary as the women who served as soldiers and nurses, because they found new opportunities for themselves.



Committee Chair

Andes, Stephen



Available for download on Tuesday, April 01, 2025