Tuesday, 10 March 2015 18:37

Early Public School Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory

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Santa Fe School 1908-1910. Author's personal collection. Santa Fe School 1908-1910. Author's personal collection.

Early Public School Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory


Arthur Scott


   There are several unknowns about this photo. I know my dad, Otis Seligman is third from right on the second row in the photo which was inscribed on the rear of the photo. He appears to be in the third or fourth grade, eight to ten years old. This would date the photo between 1906-1908.

   Exact location is unknown but his early schooling was in Santa Fe. There is a great diversity in this class including, based on facial features,  African-American,

Native American, Hispano, and Anglo children.  My grandfather was a big supporter of public education so I assume it is a public school. Also a diversity in ages so I assume it was a "one-room" type school.

   According to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation, a new brick school was built in the First Ward on the corner of Canyon Road and Garcia.  As shown below, that is not this building. The First Ward school was only used for four years because the new St Francis school drew so many of it's pupils and it as closed in 1910. The building was still standing and being used by the Kelly Art Gallery in 1976.



First Ward School. Courtesy Santa Fe Historic Foundation

   According to the 1930 census, the Seligmans lived in the Fourth Ward and I could find no information about a public school in that ward. The fashion among the elite in those days was to send children to private schools, however, this does not appear to be a private school. My dad, however, was sent to New Mexico Military Institute in 1913.

   Any additional information on the photo or the students would be appreciated by the author.

Read 4796 times Last modified on Tuesday, 10 March 2015 23:51


  • Comment Link Arthur Scott Wednesday, 11 March 2015 18:49 posted by Arthur Scott

    William, check out the Proceedings of the 1891 Territorial Legislature in the State Archives. This was when the law for public education in NM was passed.

  • Comment Link William Mee Wednesday, 11 March 2015 17:04 posted by William Mee

    Meant to leave my email in case someone finds something: WilliamHenryMee@gmail.com. Thanks.

  • Comment Link William Mee Wednesday, 11 March 2015 17:02 posted by William Mee

    Facts about these early schools are so unknown. I am trying to learn more about the one room school houses in Agua Fria built in 1880-90?.

    Nothing seems to be in the N.M. Records Center and Archives except the "school tax" rolls under Santa Fe County records. The Santa Fe County (incorporated 1852 and City was incorporated only in 1894) ran the schools apparently until 1950 when there was a School Consolidation Act in the State Legislature. The newspaper had this:

    From The New Mexican newspaper 3-20-1914:
    “Agua Fria to have Fine New School Building

    Superintendent and Mrs. Conway will attend Closing Exercises in District Tonight.

    Agua Fria school district No. 5 about six miles south of this city, will erect a new school house, in accordance with the plans and specifications as furnished by the state department of education and approved by Superintendent of County schools John V. Conway.

    The building will be of mission architecture will have two additional rooms for carrying on the manual training and domestic science work, and will be built under the supervision of the county superintendent. This is one of the many school buildings now in course of construction, which was made possible under the law whereby a school district can receive aid toward building, when the residents agree to put up at least one-third of the cost of labor. This is the second school building to be erected in this district this year.

    The schools which have been running for the past five months will close this evening, and appropriate exercises by the pupils have been arranged by the teachers, Miss Lucinda Ortiz and Miss Tillie Cortez. These two teachers have given entire satisfaction and the people are well pleased with the advancement made by their children during the past term.

    Superintendent Conway accompanied by Mrs. Conway will attend the closing exercises this evening, and the superintendent will address the parents and pupils.”

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