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Edwin Berry Oral History Interviews and Songs

Identifier: MU-20

Scope and Content

This collection consists of 30 CDs each containing one hour of oral interviews and/or renditions by Edwin Berry (Baca), a pioneer resident of Tomé, New Mexico. These interviews were conducted by Dr. Rowena Rivera, a former professor of Spanish at the University of New Mexico. In 1979, Dr. Rivera interviewed Edwin Berry, who was at the time 66 years old. Mr. Berry gave an account of life in the Tomé area in the early part of the 20th century. In addition to the oral history, the recordings include ancient Alabados sung by Berry. The Alabado texts were collected by Father Juan B. Rallière, who served as parish priest of Tomé from 1858-1911. Rallière traveled extensively in New Mexico collecting religious songs that were published under the title of "Canticos Espirituales." This collection also includes songs from the Ash Wednesday and Good Firday services conducted in Tomé, N.M., a discussion of the 36th annual meeting of the New Mexico Folklore Society, and oral interviews of Lieutenant Governor Roberto Mondragón, Pedro Ribera Ortega, Pablita Velarde, Judge Tibo Chavez, Dr. José Espinosa and Howard Bryan.

There are no transcripts.

The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

The collection is also known as the Rowena A. Rivera Collection and the Edwin Berry Historical Records Collection.

Forms part of the John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music.


  • 1979-2000 (bulk 1979-1982)

Language of Materials


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.


Rowena A. Rivera received B.A. and M.A. degrees in Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Texas, El Paso. Her Ph.D. in Contemporary Latin American Literature is from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

She taught Spanish, French, and Portuguese at Colorado State University, and has taught Latin American literature, Spanish language courses, Hispanic folk traditions, and Chicano literature at institutions including the University of Colorado, Colorado College, and the University of New Mexico. Rivera has authored and co-authored works on New Mexico folk art, Penitentes, Latin American literature and on New Mexico colonial poetry. She has been the recipient of research grants from the NEA, NEH, and New Mexico Arts Division. She has received several awardsand recognitions, including a Fulbright Lectureship and Research Award to the Universidad Nacional del Paraguay, and is listed in the New Mexico Folklore Honor Roll, Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico.

Edwin Berry was one of the most notable interpreters of his community's oral history, its ancient and recent folk music, and its religious songs and rituals. In each of his performances, whether in high sacred context, in his many public presentations, or with his family, he kept alive his village's artistic and social history. By means of his extroardinary memory and voice, Mr. Berry was an important guardian of Tomé's collective remembrances. He conserved in music and story his ancestors' memories of beloved persons and of special events, kept alive his community's religious ritualism, and redeemed from oblivion that which his forebears considered essential for material and spiritual survival. "

Source: Rivera, Rowena A. "From Memory to Song: Edwin Berry and Traditional Verbal Art in Tomé" (Talk delivered at the University of New Mexico Valencia Campus, October 5, 2000). A copy of this talk is included in the CSWR Vertical File for Edwin Baca Berry. Reading Room.


30 CDs

Related Material

Richard B. Stark Collection of New Mexico Religious Songs Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. John Donald Robb Field Recordings Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Canciones y Alabanzas de Juan Sebedeo Lucero y Otero Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Thomas J. Steele Alabado Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Ruben Cobos Collection of Southwestern Folklore and Folk Music Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Enrique Lamadrid Collection of Folk Songs, Oral Histories and Photographic Projects Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

1933 & 1956 editions of "Cánticos Espirituales" are shelved with the Berry patron use CDs.


Contact Information

  1. Center for Southwest Research
  2. Zimmerman Library
  3. University of New Mexico
  4. Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131-1466
  5. Phone: 505-277-6451
  6. Fax: 505-277-0530
  7. Email:
  8. URL:
Finding Aid of the Edwin Berry Oral History Interviews and Songs, 1979-2000 (bulk 1979-1982)
Processed by David Garcia and Monique Durham
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English
Funding to reformat cassette tapes to compact disk provided by New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board and the University of New Mexico Center for Regional Studies.

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MU 20::Edwin Berry Oral History Interviews and Songs)//EN" "nmu1mu20.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 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