Notes: The second history of New Mexico written from the perspective of its Latinx residents (following De Thoma's 19th century book) and the first by a native nuevomexicano. This is a very scarce book. The English-language edition, translated by Eleuterio Baca but with significant differences in content (see below), had a 500-copy print run and appears 12 times in RareBookHub's auction records since 1999. This original Spanish-language edition has no auction history at all. 616 pages.
Of the well-known New Mexican historians, Read, Bradford Prince, Ralph Twitchell, and Hubert Bolton, only Read was a native Spanish speaker. Read was also the only one to invest heavily in obtaining both copies and originals of source documents from the archives in Spain and Mexico (and he published a guide to them in English called "Chronological Digest...", in which he offered copies and translations to other historians, for a fee). As such, he felt free to openly criticize other historians' work, especially when it failed to consider Spanish-language sources or relied on faulty translations.
To fund this ambitious history, Read solicited contributions from prominent New Mexicans, who, in exchange, were given a page in the book, with a photograph and a short biography. Eighty-eight nuevomexicanos are profiled, along with nineteen Anglos. The majority of these biographies were not included in the English edition, making this book a key work for both images and historical information about the Latinx leaders of New Mexico in the early 20th century.
Read's at-times combative approach made him few friends and following his death in 1927, Erlinda González-Berry has documented deliberate efforts by his rival Anglo historians to minimize his contributions to New Mexican historiography (see "Benjamin Read: New Mexico's Bernal Díaz del Castillo" in Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage, vol. 6). As of early 2020, of Read, Prince, Twitchell, and Bolton, Read is the only one without a Wikipedia entry.
Benjamin Maurice Read (Las Cruces, NM, 1852 – Santa Fe, NM, 1927) was the leading Latinx historian in New Mexico. His father, Benjamin Franklin Read, arrived in New Mexico as a soldier during the Mexican American war and soon married María Ignacia Cano. The origins of Read's mother is somewhat obscure. In the 1860 and 1870 censuses, her birthplace is given as New Mexico; in Read's Historia ilustrada de Nuevo México (p. 456) he says she immigrated with her parents to New Mexico from Sonora [Mexico]. In the 20th century, Read reported her birthplace as Spain to census officials. Benjamin F. and María had four boys in quick succession, the last after Benjamin F. died, in 1857. María soon remarried a nuevomexicano farmer, Meteo Ortiz, who raised the boys.
Read became a lawyer and served in the territorial legislature and as speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives. In 1910, he began publishing a series of historical works looking at New Mexico history from the viewpoint of its residents of Spanish origin. His view of history, as a story that needed to consider ethnic and cultural viewpoints, was rare at the time.
Edition + Condition: First edition (first printing). A bit of chipping to the cloth at the top of the spine, else a very good copy in the publisher's original plum-colored cloth.
Publication: Santa Fe, NM: Compañía Impresora del Nuevo Mexicano, 1911.
Item No: #35482