Outlaws, Rough Riders, classic restaurants and a possible spy will come to life at the 2012 New Mexico Statehood History Conference, May 3-5, in Santa Fe. Presented by the Historical Society of New Mexico and the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors, this Centennial version of the Society’s annual conference includes a special treat: A daylong free symposium, open to the public, plus free admission to the History Museum on May 3.
The conference, May 4 and 5 at the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Center, is held in collaboration with the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance, which is having its annual conference at La Posada that weekend. Details, including special hotel rates and how to register for all or part of the Statehood History Conference, are at the Historical Society’s web site.
“Whether you’re interested in the Centennial or New Mexico history in general, we’re gathering writers and historians you’ll enjoy meeting and whose research is sure to enlighten you,” said Mike Stevenson, president of the Historical Society. “Holding this year’s event in the capital city, where lawmakers worked so hard to move the Territory toward statehood, means we’ll be surrounded by history indoors at the sessions and outdoors strolling the streets of Santa Fe.”
The symposium’s keynote address, “New Mexico Statehood, An Earlier Perception,” will be given by Dr. Robert W. Larson, author of the authoritative and classic New Mexico‘s Quest for Statehood, 1846-1912. Other speakers include Dr. David Van Holtby, “New Mexico’s Rough Road to Statehood,” Robert Torrez, “Law and Order and the Quest for New Mexico Statehood,” and Henrietta Martinez Christmas, “New Mexico’s Icons.” Dr. Richard Melzer will introduce and moderate the symposium. (Seating in the museum’s auditorium is limited; first-come first-served.)
The statehood theme continues May 4 and 5 at the Society’s conference, with topics ranging from traditional foods in Native American communities, land-grant studies, Western characters like Kit Carson and Wyatt Earp, and controversial New Mexico politicos such as Thomas Benton Catron, Bronson Cutting, and New Mexico’s first Territorial Governor (and possible U.S. spy) James S. Calhoun. The conference’s 24 sessions and nearly 70 presentations include:
- “Juan Dominguez de Mendoza: Soldier and Frontiersman of 17th-Century New Mexico,” by historians Marc Simmons and José Antonio Esquibel.
- “The Changing Character of New Mexico Statehood as Reflected by the Santa Fe Fiesta Celebration,” by Andrew Lovato, assistant professor of speech communications at Santa Fe Community College.
- “Butch Cassidy in New Mexico: His Winning Ways, Dancing Feet, and Postmortem Return,” by free-lance writer Nancy Coggeshall.
- “U.S. Army Nurses at Fort Bayard,” by Cecilia Jensen Bell, a researcher with the Fort Bayard Historical Preservation Society.
- “La Matanza: Conserving Identity through Food in Los Lunas,” by Daniel Valverde, an anthropology student at New Mexico State University.
“The research that these scholars have accomplished is truly impressive,” said Dr. Frances Levine, director of the New Mexico History Museum. “Visitors can start their weekend history immersion by seeing the maps, paintings, photographs and artifacts that we use in our main exhibit, Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now. If you’re not already a fan of history, the symposium and conference will make you one.”
Founded in 1859, the Historical Society of New Mexico is the oldest historical society in the West. Its collections were incorporated into the original Museum of New Mexico, created in 1909 in the Palace of the Governors, and today represent an important part of the New Mexico History Museum’s holdings. The society’s photographs, documents and books, collected from 1885 on, became the core of the museum’s Fray Angélico Chávez History Library and the Photo Archives at the Palace of the Governors. The Society began its annual conferences in 1974, and also publishes award-winning papers and news of history around the state in La Crónica de Nuevo México.
Society members who register for the conference by April 23 will get a specially discounted rate of $95, which includes the Thursday evening opening reception at the History Museum, lunch on Friday, and the Statehood Centennial Banquet on Friday evening at the Convention Center (a total value of $125). The closing Cinco de Mayo reception at the Governor’s Mansion will feature the annual Historical Society of New Mexico Awards presentations.
The conference includes a silent auction as well as a book auction. Items will include artwork, jewelry, historical maps, rare books, and statehood memorabilia. If you’d like to donate an item, e-mail Mike Stevenson at firstname.lastname@example.org.