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Historical Society of New Mexico

A brief history of the Historical Society of New Mexico, founded in 1859.

The Historical Society of New Mexico (HSNM) was founded on December 26, 1859.  It is the oldest historical society west of the Mississippi River.

Although HSNM was forced to suspend activities during the Civil War, it soon after resumed its role in preserving New Mexico's history. During the territorial period (1851-1912), many of its members published historical accounts of the Spanish, Mexican and American periods.  Members included merchants, educators, lawyers, and politicians. 

Early on, HSNM began to collect historic artifacts and papers. This led to the founding of the Society's museum in the Palace of Governors in 1885. Then, in 1909, the territorial government created the Museum of New Mexico, which incorporated many of the Society's collections and was housed in the Palace of the Governors. Eventually, the museum collections were given to the State of New Mexico.  The state has continued to use these early collections. HSNM leadership was also responsible for founding the School of American Research (now the School of Advanced Research) a major archaeological institution in Santa Fe.

 In 1913, Old Santa Fe, a journal edited by historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell, became the official bulletin of the Historical Society of New Mexico. By 1926, Old Santa Fe had been defunct for several years when Lansing B. Bloom and Paul A. F. Walter started the New Mexico Historical Review as the official publication of HSNM. In 1963, financial pressures led HSNM to give ownership of the Review to the University of New Mexico. From 1927 to 1960, HSNM was the official guardian of the archives of the State of New Mexico until the time the State of New Mexico established its own archives department at the New Mexico Records Center and Archives. Over its nearly 150 year lifetime, HSNM has published a number of books, and in recent years society book publication has been a combined project with the University of New Mexico Press.

The Historical Society of New Mexico began hosting annual conferences on Southwest and New Mexico history in 1974. Conferences are held in the Spring (usually mid-April) around the state and include tours of local historical sites as well as papers and discussion on New Mexico history and politics. Joint conferences with the Arizona Historical Society every few years broaden the interest of historical society members of both states. La Crónica de Nuevo México, a publication of academic papers and society news, was established in 1976. Published two or three times a year, La Crónica also carries book reviews and news of history around the state.  HSNM offers scholarships and grants for scholars and students.

From Historical Society of New Mexico website: the historical society of.htm.