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New Mexico Magazine Collection

Identifier: PAAC-052

Scope and Content

Collection of thousands of original prints, film negatives, slides and color transparencies. These images were collected or created by New Mexico Magazine staff as well as freelancers, contractors, and the New Mexico state agencies that administered the magazine (i.e. the New Mexico Tourism Department and its predecessors).

Throughout its history, the magazine sought to promote and support New Mexico inside and outside the state, with longstanding attention to New Mexico's landscape, its people and cultures, its economic development, and, especially, recreation and tourism.


  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 2004


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to researchers on an appointment basis only, pending approval of request to view original material.

Conditions Governing Use

User responsible for all copyright compliance. Permission to publish must be obtained from Photo Archives. Form to request permission available at:

Biographical Information

In the 1920s the state Highway Department was one of New Mexico's largest and fastest growing agencies. The state was comprised of 121,666 square miles of largely rural yet strikingly beautiful terrain. It was the department's job to make the nation's 47th state accessible by automobile; the up-and-coming phenomenon of the time was the addition of state-of-the-art thoroughfares wide enough for two passing automobiles (and a buggy to boot). Highway and road projects abounded, prompting the state engineer to start New Mexico Highway Journal to keep department employees informed of the many new road developments happening throughout the state.

The inaugural issue appeared in July 1923 at a cost of $100 for 300 printed copies. Its first editor was R.W. Bennett. The first magazine made such a splash with department employees that he published a second issue in October. The New Mexico Highway Journal steadily increased in popularity; the first tourism-oriented story (about Acoma Pueblo) appeared in the second printing. In 1928, a general policy was enacted to broaden the focus of the Journal from serving as a departmental sounding board to becoming a general interest magazine about the state. The expanded magazine meant more pages, higher expenses and a stretched budget.

In July 1931 the magazine absorbed the newsletter of the Game and Fish Department, The Conservationist, and became New Mexico: The Sunshine State's Recreational and Highway Magazine. It was a sharper-looking publication that included stories about highway projects, outdoor activities, and tourist attractions. Financing for the publication came from advertising sales and the fees paid by both departments. By 1933 the magazine had grown from the 300 copies for the first July 1923 issue to a circulation of about 4,000 copies that were free for the asking. Individual copies were also sold for 15 cents and an annual subscription cost $1.

In 1935 George Fitzpatrick became the editor, a role he continued for 34 years. He is credited with expanding the magazine's scope and coverage and marshalling it through the hard times of the Great Depression, the austerity of World War II and into the modern age. In the 1950s the title was shortened to New Mexico Magazine. Throughout his tenure, Fitzpatrick succeeded in recruiting the state's best writers and photographers to contribute to the magazine, usually as "a labor of love."

State agencies that administered the Magazine include the New Mexico Highway Department, State Tourist Bureau (1923-1959); the New Mexico Department of Development (1959 to 1977); the New Mexico Commerce and Industry Department, Economic Development Division (1977 to 1983); the New Mexico Economic Development and Tourism Department (1983 to 1991); and the New Mexico Tourism Department (1991 to present).

At the time of this writing (April 2013) New Mexico Magazine had a monthly circulation of 93,000, with an estimated half a million pass-along readers each month. About 70 percent of the total circulation of the magazine goes out of state. There are readers in every US state and in 74 countries throughout the world. (Derived in part from: "America's Original State Magazine" by Dave Herndon, New Mexico Magazine, January 2013.)


40 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Related Materials

Related materials are held by the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives. Of particular relevance are the New Mexico Commerce and Industry Department Records (1981-065) and the New Mexico Department of Tourism Photograph Collection (1987-066).


Guide to the New Mexico Magazine Collection, 1930 - 2004, PAAC 052
© 2011
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Rearrangement, reboxing, and additional description. Project supported with a grant from the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board.

Repository Details

Part of the NMHM Palace of the Governors Photo Archives Repository

113 Lincoln Ave.
Santa Fe NM 87501 USA