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Chronicling the Southwest for 90 years

Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal

While hunting sources for his recently published book “The Apache Wars,” University of New Mexico history professor Paul Hutton struck a rich vein of information in his own backyard.

In old issues of the New Mexico Historical Review, a journal Hutton himself had once edited, he found the memoirs of John Clum, an Indian agent who had captured Geronimo and who knew many of the principal figures on both sides of the Apache conflict.

Between the late 1920s and the early 1930s, Clum, who lived until 1932, published Review articles with titles such as “Geronimo,” “The Apaches,” “Apache Misrule” and “The San Carlos Apache Police.” There in the pages of the Review, telling the story in his own words, was a major player in the events Hutton was researching.

“I don’t think people understand how important the Review is to the history of the American West,” said Hutton, 66, who was Review editor from 1985 to 1992. “I delved into stacks and stacks of old issues for the Apache book. There are interviews with Indian scouts and Clum’s memoirs. The Review has a very long and storied history. It is one of the oldest journals in the West.”

The New Mexico Historical Review, founded in 1926, is celebrating its 90th anniversary with special events on the UNM campus this week. John Kessell, UNM history professor emeritus and another former Review editor, gives a free lecture Friday afternoon. And, on Saturday, there is a daylong symposium, free and open to the public, featuring a keynote address by New Mexico state historian Rick Hendricks, and panel discussions by Review editors and authors.

Durwood Ball, the 12th editor of the New Mexico Historical Review, says the journal covers the same historical topics it always has, but focuses more on race, ethnicity, class and gender than it did in the past. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

Durwood Ball, the 12th editor of the New Mexico Historical Review, says the journal covers the same historical topics it always has, but focuses more on race, ethnicity, class and gender than it did in the past. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

Durwood Ball, 56, the Review editor since 2000, said the publication was founded as the journal of historical record in New Mexico and the greater Southwest. He said the journal continues to publish articles about the Spanish borderlands, American Indian history, the territorial period, Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War.

“We still study the conquerors and the settlers,” Ball said. “But we do it in a different way. Since the 1980s, there has been more of a focus on social and cultural development, race, ethnicity, class and gender. And now we publish a good many pieces on the history of photography in the region.”

New Mexico in the 20th century has been a recurring theme in the Review, as well. In the Winter 2012 issue, for example, there are two articles, one of them profusely illustrated with photos, about communes that sprouted up in New Mexico during the 1960s.

UNM publishes the Review quarterly and the publication’s offices are in UNM’s Mesa Vista Hall. But the Review did not start out as a UNM publication.

Santa Fe roots

Founding editor Lansing Bartlett Bloom. (Courtesy of NMHR)

Founding editor Lansing Bartlett Bloom. (Courtesy of NMHR)

Co-editors Lansing Bartlett Bloom and Paul A.F. Walter founded the Review in 1926 as the official bulletin of the Historical Society of New Mexico. It was originally edited and printed in Santa Fe.

Walter, a former editor of the Santa Fe New Mexican, was president-elect of the Historical Society when the Review was founded.

Bloom, a native of Auburn, N.Y., came west in 1907 as a Presbyterian minister and missionary, but was soon enmeshed in the history of New Mexico and the Southwest, studying the records of Spanish Franciscans while doing missionary work in Mexico, reveling in the archaeology, history and lore of Jemez Pueblo while assigned to a church there.

He earned a master’s degree in history and had left the ministry for positions with both the School of American Research (archaeology and anthropology) in Santa Fe and the Museum of New Mexico by the time he and Walter launched the Review. The first four issues included articles on “New Mexico in the Great War (World War I),” and pieces about Juan de Oñate and the founding of New Mexico, Spanish folklore in New Mexico, the U.S. Army’s experiment with a camel corps and frontiersman Kit Carson, among others.

The Review moved to Albuquerque in September 1929, when Bloom joined the history faculty at UNM. Even though it was now edited and printed on the UNM campus, the Review retained its ties to the Historical Society.

Bloom retired from UNM in June 1945, but worked with the Review until his death in February 1946.

In a tribute to his late colleague, published in the April 1946 issue of the Review, Walter wrote, “Though ordinarily serious as proverbially becomes a Presbyterian clergyman and a research scholar, Bloom also had a sense of humor and was witty in a restrained way.”

Frank Driver Reeve, a 1925 UNM graduate and member of the university’s history faculty, was known for his jovial nature. He liked to tell humorous stories and anecdotes in class. Reeve succeeded Bloom as editor, and kept the Review alive and vigorous during some stormy economic years. It was Reeve who suggested that UNM assume sole ownership of the Review and the university did that in 1963. At that point, the Review became a UNM project.

Reeve worked as Review editor until October 1964 and continued to contribute to the journal until his death in December 1967.

It’s all in the details

Eleanor B. Adams, the Review’s first woman editor, took over for Reeve.

“I can still hear her demanding, ‘Look it up. Look it up,'” said Kessell, who served as Review editor in 1999-2000, but had just completed his history Ph.D. at UNM when he worked with Adams as a Review editorial assistant in the early 1970s. “She taught me to pay close attention to detail. When I started working for her, it shocked the hell out of me at how poorly some big-named authors wrote and at how quietly (Adams) made them look better.”

Adams, a native of Cambridge, Mass., and a graduate of Radcliffe College, started her career in the Division of Historical Research in the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. She moved to UNM in 1941 to continue her lifelong collaboration with Carnegie colleague France V. Scholes, with whom she published important Yucatán studies.

Scholes taught history at UMM, and would also serve the university as dean of the graduate school and academic vice president. UNM’s Scholes Hall is named for him.

Both Scholes and Adams contributed articles to the Review, Adams both before and after she became the journal’s editor in 1964, and Scholes mostly between 1928 and 1945.

Kessell said Scholes was still around when he started working with Adams at the Review in 1970.

“He used to come into the office now and then, and you could hear him coming because he coughed,” Kessell said of Scholes. “He was absolutely astute and almost regal. He had this great mane of white hair and was a true personality.”

Adams was a personality in her own right.

“She could be particularly crusty and there were those who did not like her,” Kessell said. “But I liked her right from the start. I respected her scholarship. We became very close friends. She was a mentor and almost a surrogate mother.”

School for scholars

Kessell, 80, may be the only person to have worked as editorial assistant, editor, author and reviewer for the Review, situations that helped him build his own career as a history professor, researcher and author of books.

Assistant Editor Rico Gonzales and Associate Editor Margaret DePond are just part of the team of graduate students that make up the Review's staff. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

Assistant Editor Rico Gonzales and Associate Editor Margaret DePond are just part of the team of graduate students that make up the Review’s staff. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

Review editor Ball, an associate professor of history at UNM, said a vital role played by the Review is teaching the “nuts and bolts of scholarly publishing” to UNM history students. The nine-person staff working at the Review now includes Ball, office manager Cindy Tyson and seven graduate students.

“Since 1979, 13 graduate students have held the title of managing editor and, since 1968, 88 students – most of them graduate students – have worked as editorial assistants,” Ball said. “There’s no better way to learn writing than to edit other people’s writing.”

The Summer 2016 issue of the Review. (Courtesy of NMHR)

The Summer 2016 issue of the Review. (Courtesy of NMHR)

The most recent Review turned out by Ball and his team of graduate students – volume 91, number 3, Summer 2016 – is a theme issue devoted to the Magoffin family, a bicultural and binational clan important in the history of the Southwest, especially New Mexico and West Texas. It is an issue that is true in every way to the journal’s mission. As it marches toward its 100th anniversary, the Review just keeps on doing what it has always done.

“When it comes to borderland scholarship, Spanish and Indian history, the New Mexico Historical Review is the leading journal on those topics,” Hutton said. “It always has been.”