El Palacio Magazine

El Palacio Magazine, Centennial Gift to New Mexico

January 26, 2012


El Palacio Magazine, published by the Museum of New Mexico for nearly 100 years, celebrates the digital age just as the state celebrates its centennial, by putting the first ten years of the magazine online, free to all at http://archives.elpalacio.org.


With the changing times, the vision of many magazine publishers—including El Palacio's—has had to broaden in order to continue a print product while also developing an online version and full archive for a Web-savvy audience. The New Mexico State Library's State Document Program, which has long collected and cataloged printed copies of El Palacio, shared the magazine's online, digital goals because of the publication's historical content, its focus on New Mexico, and its perfect fit with the library's mission to increase access to state publications. 

That marked the beginning of a partnership that others within the Department of Cultural Affairs were quick to join. Gaps in the state library's nearly complete collection were filled in part by the New Mexico Museum of Art's library, which had already scanned and copied to discs decades of early El Palacios; in part through an extensive loan system among libraries within the museum community, the state, and the country; and in part by searches through old issues once saved by the New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies.

"We wouldn't be this far along without the willingness of others from sister agencies to help," said Gary Harris, director of the Technical Services Division at the state library, which will host the El Palacio collection.

El Palacio publisher Shelley Thompson, who has seen to purchasing needed software for the project, praised the state library's determined effort to put 10 years of searchable El Palacios "online and in time for the state's centennial" and promised to support the continuing effort "until the next 90 years and beyond are available to all."

The publication began as a broadsheet in November 1913 and evolved over the decades into a magazine. In its early years, El Palacio printed articles on architecture by Carlos Vierra, findings from archaeological excavations by A. V. Kidder, poetry by Alice Corbin Henderson, memorials to New Mexico soldiers lost in WWI, art criticism by Marsden Hartley, and early photographs of Poh-We-Ka (Little Blue Corn Flower), later known as the famous potter Maria Martinez. Over the first decade (and beyond), El Palacio occasionally reflected on archaeology worldwide, though it concentrated then as it does today on “the art, history and culture of the Southwest.” A representative issue is Volume 8, Numbers 7–9, that was published in July 1920 and contained:

• “The Crooked Fir,” a story by Mary Austin.

• A series of paintings and artists’ statements by such artists as E. Irving Couse, Bert G. Phillips, Ernest L. Blumenschein, J. H. Sharp and O. E. Berninghaus.

• A financial statement showing how the School of American Research and Museum of New Mexico spent $43,078.40 to complete a museum building, pay salaries, cover maintenance, and more.

• and, a lengthy report from Director Edgar Lee Hewett (who often wrote long for the publication) covering the previous year’s successes and plans for the coming year.

Putting nearly a century’s worth of a publication online presented many challenges. While the IT people had theirs, the editorial side of the magazine had to deal with culturally sensitive content, knowing that increased access via the Internet enhances the possibility of causing offense or misuse.

Still, certain requirements apply. For instance, while El Palacio currently does not publish culturally sensitive information it does appear in the digital version for this reason: The magazine is an official state document and editing is prohibited by New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act (NMSA 1978, Chapter 14, Article 2). On the other hand, the New Mexico Cultural Properties Act (NMSA 1978, 18-6-1) requires redaction of detailed information on archaeological site locations in New Mexico.

The old El Palacios are in themselves their own archaeological site. Digging through the volumes online will unearth idiosyncratic social mores, dated cultural norms and quaint customs. To browse these pages is to wander back in time where a history lesson is told like no book has ever disclosed.  Readers will make their own judgments with this unfiltered historical information. Or as current contributor Susanne Caro wrote; “… they may find a photo of their great-grandmother in her fiesta finery, or their grandfather as an eagle dancer in the plaza, and with El Palacios online, that is more likely to happen.”

 El Palacio enters its centennial year in 2013 when the balance of the publication will be available online.

Media Contact:

Steve Cantrell, PR Manager








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