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American Folklife Center Collections: New Mexico

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting expressive culture in the state of New Mexico at the Library of Congress.


Juan Bautista Rael. Map of the Rio Grande River valley in New Mexico and Colorado. 1951. Hispano Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

American Folklife Center collections from the US state of New Mexico provide an understanding of expressive culture from nearly every corner of the state and span more than a century. Of particular note are the Native American materials documenting communities from Navajo, Apache, Acoma, Zuni, Laguna, and many other tribes. As well, Latinx communities in New Mexico by numerous ethnographers such as Juan Rael, Norma Cantú, and Rubén Cobos, that provide some sense of the rich variety of folklife found in this state.

​Hispano Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection

The materials included in the Juan B. Rael Collection comprise an online presentation of an ethnographic field collection documenting religious and secular music of Spanish-speaking residents of rural Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. In 1940, Juan Bautista Rael of Stanford University, a native of Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico, used disc recording equipment supplied by the Archive of American Folk Song (American Folklife Center archive) to document alabados (hymns), folk drama, wedding songs, and dance tunes. The recordings included in the collection were made in Alamosa, Manassa, and Antonito, Colorado, and in Cerro and Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico. In addition to these recordings, the collection includes manuscript materials and publications authored by Rael which provide insight into the rich musical heritage and cultural traditions of this region.

This collection documents the musical heritage and cultural traditions of the Hispano residents of the portion of the Northern Rio Grande region spanning Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado.

Learn more about Juan Bautista Rael, 1900-1993: Pioneer Hispano Folklorist.

Featured recording from the collection:

Additional Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

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Public Programming

Using violins, accordion, quinta huapangera, bajo sexto, guitarrón, tololoche, and vocals in Spanish, English, Nahuatl and P'urépecha, Lone Piñon has revived and updated the Chicano stringband style that once flourished in New Mexico, bringing a devoted musicianship to Northern New Mexican polkas and chotes, virtuosic Mexican huapango and son calentano, and classic borderlands conjunto. The oldest strands of New Mexican traditional music dwindled in the 1950s when New Mexico was rapidly assimilated into the American economic and cultural environment. But traces of these traditions remain in recordings, photos, and the living memory of elders. The musicians of Lone Piñon—Noah Martinez, Jordan Wax and Leticia Gonzales--learned from elder musicians, who instilled in them a respect for continuity and an example of the radicalism, creativity, and cross-cultural solidarity that has always informed folk music. This concert took place at the Library of Congress on August 01, 2018.