AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY IN THE NEW MEXICO TERRITORY. African American.
AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY IN THE NEW MEXICO TERRITORY
AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY IN THE NEW MEXICO TERRITORY
AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY IN THE NEW MEXICO TERRITORY
AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY IN THE NEW MEXICO TERRITORY

AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY IN THE NEW MEXICO TERRITORY

A collection of more than 450 black and white photographs of the Parsons, an African American family which traces its roots to Santa Fe, New Mexico in the mid 1860s at a time when few people or color lived in the region. A dozen snapshots in this collection dating from the 1930s show old neighborhoods and locations where the children went to school. Some of the photographs have handwritten captions on the verso, identifying Velma Ruth Parsons (1902–82), as well as her younger sisters, Marcella and Roselle, and a younger brother, Lawren. They were all born in Santa Fe and attended the First Ward School, shown in a few snapshots. There are also a few photographs of the Presbyterian Mission School, where Velma’s father Charles and his siblings went to school, according to a caption. Charles (1876–1934) was born in the New Mexico Territory and labeled “mulatto” in ancestry records, as were both of his parents. His father, Thomas, was born in Virginia and his mother, Mary, was born in Missouri. Although no records are readily available to provide confirmation, it is possible that Thomas was among the more than 3,000 “Buffalo Soldiers” who served at New Mexico forts between 1866 and 1900 and decided to remain permanently. Santa Fe was still a rugged environment, but in 1866, the First Presbyterian Church was founded and opened a missionary school the same year. In 1901, Charles married Olive Green (1863–1931) of Colorado. He worked as a clerk at the post office and owned a home in Santa Fe’s Second Ward. Sometime between 1910 and 1920, the family moved to Denver, where Charles found a position as a cigar salesman at the Denver Club, the private gentlemen’s club founded by some of the city’s most successful businessmen. He was drafted during World War I (there are three uncaptioned snapshots in this collection showing African American men in World War I era uniforms). Following the war, Charles returned to the Denver Club and worked as a bellman for more than two decades. His son, Lawren (1910–93), followed in his footsteps. The vast majority of the photographs in this collection are not labeled or captioned and measure 3” x 5” on average. The photographs date from the 1920s through the 1960s, with the vast majority from the 1930s. The collection also includes a cabinet card of an unidentified, fair skinned African American woman by a Cincinnati, Ohio photographer. According to ancestry records, Velma completed a few years of college while her sisters completed college and became teachers. She never married, but between 1930 and 1940 she moved to Los Angeles to live with her sister Marcella and brother-in-law and take care of their child. This collection includes some uncaptioned images of residential residences and groups of unidentified people in Southern California. Photographic collections like this are scarce and provide glimpses into the little-known history of African American migration in the West. As Bruce Glasrud, editor of “African American History in New Mexico” (New Mexico Press, 2013) observes, "It is obvious to this author that the number of publications on the African American community in New Mexico unfortunately lags behind every other state in the West." He also laments that "so little can be found about African Americans in New Mexico it almost seems a conspiracy." Even today, the number of black New Mexicans—whether African, Caribbean, or African American—comprise less than 3 percent of the people living in the state. In Santa Fe, census figures show that the black population in the city of about 67,947 residents increased in the last decade from 450 to 700. The photographs are all in very good condition and are stored in plastic sleeves within a modern three-ring binder. A few older images show some evidence of being relocated from an older album. Very good. Item #72071

Price: $1,200.00

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