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The Loretto Academy of Las Cruces records

Identifier: Ms-0042

Scope and Contents

This collection contains various pieces of printed ephemera related to the social and academic live of the Loretto Academy. This includes brochures, pamphlets, a graduation program, and two issues of The Loretto Crescent and The Loretto Chimes.


  • 1905 - 1940

Biographical / Historical

John Baptist Lamy, the first Archbishop of Santa Fe, arrived in New Mexico in 1848 to oversee the establishment of the American Catholic church in that territory. He felt that Catholic schools would be the best means for accomplishing this goal by not only educating New Mexicans, but also by providing a means for introducing “American” language, culture, and values. Lamy felt that a teaching sisterhood would best accomplish his goals in New Mexico, by bringing American style schools, American Catholic practices and beliefs, and American culture to a people who had only recently become citizens of the United States. In 1852, Lamy traveled to the First Plenary Council in Baltimore to find an order of religious women willing to take on the challenge of establishing schools in New Mexico. The Sisters of Loretto, a teaching order established in Kentucky in 1812, immediately volunteered for the task. The Sisters of Loretto arrived in Las Cruces in 1870. At that time, Las Cruces was a small agricultural community of around 1,300 people. The first few years in Las Cruces were marked by hardship and poverty. In 1880 Mother Praxedes Carty arrived at the Academy as the new Mother Superior. After liquidating the Academy's debt, Mother Praxedes began to improve the grounds of the school and convent. She also made improvements to the curriculum and religious components of the school.

The first three decades of the twentieth century saw an increased enrollment at the Loretto Academy, however the end was near for the Las Cruces school. A new Academy in El Paso, founded in 1922, drained students from the Las Cruces Academy, and this was exacerbated by disturbances on the Mexican border, the outbreak of World War I, and the Depression of the 1930s. The Sisters tried expanding the curriculum and offering more extracurricular activities to increase enrollment. Efforts to save the Academy included the establishment of a parochial school, Holy Cross, in Las Cruces. In September 1927 Sisters Frances Paula and Mary Lidwina opened Holy Cross with an enrollment of 206 students. Although Holy Cross is still in operation today, the Sisters were removed from its faculty in 1945. Despite the Sisters' best efforts, the Academy was closed in 1943.


.25 Linear Feet (1 Box)

Language of Materials



Catholic school for young women started in 1870 and closed in 1943. This collection includes printed materials produced by the Loretto Academy: brochures, pamphlets, a graduation program, and two issues of The Loretto Crescent and The Loretto Chimes.

Processing Information

Portia Vescio, September 2001
Guide to the Loretto Academy of Las Cruces records
Portia Vescio
September 2001
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA