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Otero-Stinson Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-506-BC

Scope and Content

This collection consists of three topical segments: Katherine Stinson's aviation career, Miguel Otero's political and legal career, and collected papers and manuscripts of his father Governor Miguel A. Otero, all ranging from the mid 1850s to 1985. The core of the collection are the correspondence files of Otero and Stinson and of Gov. Otero (Boxes 1-6). While Gov. Otero's papers are separated from Otero-Stinson's (Box 6), it was too difficult to separate Katherine Stinson's correspondence from Miguel Otero's. Stinson-Otero correspondence is one segment (Boxes 1-5), although topical order has been attempted.

Boxes 7-19 contain non-correspondence items. The material in Boxes 7-8 reflects Stinson's career as a pilot and enhances the history of aviation in general. This segment also houses Otero's career in New Mexico politics and law. Otero kept notes on his connections to Bronson Cutting, his career as Attorney General of New Mexico as well as notes and records of his judicial and legal career.

These boxes also contain material Otero kept of his father, Gov. Otero, relating to early territorial New Mexico history, to Otero family history and to his father's publications.Material documenting his career during World War II in the Judge Advocate General's Office is in Box 9.

Boxes 10-12 hold legal and personal legal size items and reflect basically the same topical scope as boxes 7-8: Stinson's aviation career, records and notes relating to Otero's legal and judicial career, legal documents pertaining to Katherine Stinson and Miguel A. Otero. Papers pertaining to the territorial period, Gov. Otero's legal papers, as well as to the Otero family are in box 12, as are newspaper clippings spanning from the territorial period to the mid-20th century.

Gov. Otero's manuscripts are in Box 13. Boxes 14-19 hold miscellaneous items of Stinson, Otero, and Gov. Otero, including judicial note books, books and booklets, trophies, cooking recipes and taxation and banking papers of the three parties involved. Oversize items, photographic and architectural items have been transferred to map cases, CSWR Pictorial Collections and the Meem Archives, respectively.

Materials in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish.


  • 1843-1985


Language of Materials

English Japanese Chinese Spanish

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publications or distribution.

Biographical Information

Katherine Stinson was born 1891 in Fort Payne, Alabama [corrected date and place]. She was introduced to aviation in 1911, when she participated in a balloon ascension. This started her life-long interest in aviation and made Katherine Stinson one of the first female pilots in the United States and the world. She attended the Lillie Aviation Company in Chicago where she was taught flying by a reluctant Max Lillie. In the same year she received FAI certification #148. Her carrier covered many "firsts" (in aviation per se as well as for women) such as first night flights, long-distance records, air-mail services, and skywriting. In 1915 the Stinson family opened a flight school and Katherine attended aviation exhibition shows, in which she reportedly got paid up to $2000 per flight. A major event in Kathrine Stinson's aviation career was an exhibition tour to the Orient. In 1917, tens of thousands of spectators in Japan and China admired her and fellow aviators' skills with the airplanes.

After the war broke out in Europe, Katherine Stinson tried to sign up for combat missions on the continent but was denied. She had to settle for ambulance services. Her health deteriorated under the strenuous conditions in France and she was hospitalized. She stayed there for over a year, suffering from tuberculosis. She did not recover from the disease, until the New Mexico air at Santa Fe brought back her strength. After that she stayed away from active aviation, but turned her interest to architecture and preservation of the unique Pueblo style of the Southwest.

It was during her time at Sunmount Sanatorium that she met Miguel Otero, also a flyer, and son of former Governor Miguel Otero, Sr. Miguel Otero's career was deeply rooted in New Mexico. Born and raised during the territorial period and growing to maturity during early statehood, Miguel Otero was intimately familiar with New Mexico politics. Close friend of Bronson Cutting, he helped shape New Mexico's politics in the 1920s. His political career stretched from New Mexico treasurer, to attorney general and District Judge for Santa Fe. When World War II broke out, Miguel Otero volunteered and was assigned to the Judge Advocate General Department at Camp Luna, NM and later Matherfield, CA. After the war he returned to Santa Fe and attended to his law practice. Although often asked to run for national office, Otero strongly believed that his place of influence was Santa Fe and New Mexico. Never publicly interested in the governorship, he held close ties with Republican party officials and was often asked for advice.

Kathrine Stinson and Miguel Otero raised four adopted children, Barbara, Jerry, Jackie and Edward Stinson (Kathrine's brother Jack's children). Kathrine Stinson Otero, who left a definite impact on the history of aviation, died in 1977 in Santa Fe after a long illness. Miguel Otero, descendant of a family deeply rooted in New Mexico, left an equally important lasting impact on New Mexico's political, judicial, and social history.


20 boxes (17 cu. ft.), plus oversize folder

Related Archival Material

L. Bradford Prince Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Katherine Stinson Otero Drawings and Plans, Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Libraries. McCart Family Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Porter-Harvey Family Papers Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Blueprints and architectual drawings (Katherine Stinson Otero) have been transferred to the John Gaw Meem Architectual Collection.

Photographic and pictorial materials has been transferred to the Katherine Stinson Pictorial Collection. Four boxes contain photos related to aviation, Katherine Stinson, Miguel Otero Sr. and Jr., and to New Mexico, and Central and South America. 34 reprints, drawings, and portraits, were transferred from oversize to Pictorial Collections in July 2001. These include 12 reprints of paintings by Charles H. Hubbell of the series entitled "The Early Birds," numbers one through twelve, including one representation of pilot Katherine Stinson; 1 pastel portrait (unsigned); 1 painting of a woman signed by Paul Coze, 1948; 1 painting (black) on silk, signed (but illegible); One ink drawing of the Virgin of Guadalupe; 3 reprints of drawings with precolumbian motifs attributed to M. Louise Baker
Finding Aid of the Otero-Stinson Family Papers, 1843-1985
Processed by CSWR Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: Stinson birth date and place in biography corrected by KF 7/19/07.
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131