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Thomas J. Steele Alabado Collection

Identifier: MSS-878-BC

Scope and Content

The Thomas J. Steele Alabado Collection contains photocopies of alabados collected throughout New Mexico, Colorado and Mexico along with notes and related secondary material. Although the collection consists primarily of alabados it also includes photocopies of corridos, hymnals, and other liturgical and cultural literature, music and folklore. The collection is divided into four series: Alabados-Cuadernos which contains the bulk of the material and is comprised of photocopies of cuadernos (prayer/ballad books), loose alabados and research materials. The Alabados of New Mexico series includes correspondence, prospectus, manuscript review, publishing agreement, royalties contract, and outline drafts and publication related material for the book. Alabado Related Material contains published articles about alabados. The last series Non Alabados contains prayer books, inditas, corridos, gosos, loose alabados and other material related to New Mexico folklore.

Many photocopied alabados were acquired from archives throughout New Mexico and Colorado. Some were obtained from individuals connected to the Penitente brotherhoods and other cuadernos were copied in Mexico. Some of the cuadernos and loose alabados would be difficult to acquire outside this collection.

Father Steele’s file/document numbering system was retained in the CSWR folder descriptions for possible research value.


  • 1780-2003

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 publication or distribution.

Biography / History

Jesuit priest Thomas Steele was born in St. Louis, MO on Nov. 6, 1933. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1951, and was ordained in 1964. He died on October 25, 2010. Steele taught for 25 years in the English department at Regis University, Colorado, but was best known for his knowledge of santos. Steele discovered his passion for santos when he moved to Albuquerque in 1965 to work on his doctorate in English. When he won a National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities fellowship in 1969, he spent about a third of the stipend purchasing santos. Steele created the Regis University Santos Collection, the largest teaching collection of santos in the United States. He made a major contribution to the field of Spanish Colonial art history of New Mexico through his extensive research and publications on the images of santos and collection of alabados resulting in two comprehensive books, Santos and Saints: The Religious Folk Art of Hispanic New Mexico and The Alabados of New Mexico. He also influenced the artists themselves who often referred to Santos and Saints when working on a carving. Steele selected santos to be given to Pope John Paul II and President Bill Clinton to mark their 1993 meeting at Regis University. Steele wrote over 40 scholarly articles mostly on literature and cultures of the Hispanic and Native American southwest. Father Steele was a member of the Brotherhood of Penitentes in New Mexico. He studied and collected alabados and other lost liturgical texts.


5 boxes (5.0 cu. ft)


This collection contains research notes, photocopies of alabados (religious ballads) and other liturgical and cultural literature collected by Father Thomas Steele. Most of the material in this collection was used as a basis for his book The Alabados of New Mexico.


Four series:
  1. Alabados-Cuadernos
  2. "The Alabados of New Mexico"
  3. Alabado related material
  4. Non Alabados

Related Material

Edwin Berry Oral History Interviews and Songs, Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, University of New Mexico Libraries. Hermandad de Nuestro Padre de Jesus Semana Santa Songbooks, Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, University of New Mexico Libraries. John Donald Robb Field Recordings, Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, University of New Mexico Libraries. Enrique Lamadrid collection on Juan B. Rael, Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, University of New Mexico Libraries. Ruben Cobos Collection of Southwestern Folklore and Folk Music Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, University of New Mexico Libraries.

Separated Material

The following materials were removed from the collection since they were photocopied from collections in accessible repositories:


  1. Alabados, Anonymous, Vol. 1 (Steele #34), (UNM ZIM 861.08 A1m)
  2. Alabados, Anonymous, Vol. 2, (Steele # 35), (UNM ZIM 861.08 A1p)
  3. Baca, Nicolas [Cuaderno], Encino, N.M., (Steele # 41), (UNM ZIM CSWR PQ 7339 B3)
  4. Baca, Ricardo [Cuaderno], (Steele # 37), (UNM Fine Arts, XML 3086 B32)
  5. Cuaderno from Cuencamé, Durango, Mexico, (Steele #90), (UNM MSS 608 BC)
  6. Cuadernos and Coloquio from Durango, Mexico, (Steele # 81-87),(UNM MSS 608 BC)
  7. Gallegos, Julian [Cuaderno], (Steele # 102), (Palace of the Governors - Fabian Chavez Sr. Collection, Fray Angélico Chávez History Library)
  8. García, Ramón [Cuaderno] (Steele #133-135), (UNM ZIM CSWR M1668.4 S64)
  9. Lopez Family Alabado Book- #55, (Steele # 14), (NMSRCA, Misc. Church records)
  10. Lopez, George [Cuaderno], Cordova, N.M., (Steele # 40), (UNM ZIM CSWR BX810 N67)
  11. Lopez, Larry Alabados de los Penitentes, (Steele # 33), (UNM ZIM CSWR PN 6110 R4 L6x)
  12. Maez, Fabian [Cuaderno], (Steele # 48), (MOIFA catalog #FA.1990.50-1)
  13. Martinez, Leopoldo [Cuaderno], Chimayó, N.M., (Steele # 17), (NMSRCA - Martinez-Sandoval Family Papers)
  14. Martinez, Reyes Alabados, (Steele # 22), (Palace of the Governors - Fray Angélico Chávez History Library 5-5-5; Reyes Martinez Alabados, WPA files, NMSRC #405)
  15. Martinez, Reyes Alabados- Loose photo copies, (Steele # 11), (Palace of the Governors - WPA New Mexico Collection, Fray Angélico Chávez History Library)
  16. Martinez-Sandoval Family [Cuadero] (Steele # 16), (NMSRCA - Martinez-Sandoval Family Papers) Moya, Luis, Cuaderno, Santa Fe, N.M., (Steele # 23), (NMSRCA - Misc Church Records #37)
  17. Pais, Petrolino, Cuaderno/Rule Book, Alameda, N.M., (Steele # 24),(NMSRCA - Dorothy Woodward Penitente Coll.)
  18. Salazar, Epimenio [Cuaderno] Cerro, Taos Co., (Steele # 15), (NMSRCA - Martinez-Sandoval Family Papers)

Alabado related material:

  1. "A comparison of Spanish colonial alabados as sung in Cordova, New Mexico..." by Viola Ruth Cisneros, (Steele # 137), (UNM FAL ML3086 C58)
  2. "Brothers of light; the Penitentes of the Southwest", by Alice Corbin Henderson,(Steele #10), (UNM ZIM CSWR BX3653 U6 H3)
  3. "Canticos espirituales / recogidos por el padre Juan B. Ralliere", (UNM ZIM CSWR BV 506.C3 R3)
  4. "Canticos, misas y novena de La Conquistadora", (Steele # 53), (UNM ZIM CSWR BX2162 C6 C3)
  5. "Estudio y clasificacion de la musica tradicional hispanica de Nuevo Mexico" Vicente Mendoza, (Steele # 19), (UNM FAL M1668.4 M4)
  6. "Folk cycle in a Spanish New Mexican village" by Salvador Perez (Steele # 138), (UNM CSWR Th/Ds 378.798 Un30p)
  7. "Hermanos de la Luz" by John Ray de Aragon- Index only, (Steele # 88), (UNM ZIM BX 810.H57 D38)
  8. "Hispanic folk Music of New Mexico and the Southwest: A self-portrait of a people", (Steele # 6), (UNM ZIM CSWR M1668.4 H52- John Donald Robb)
  9. "Holy Week in Tome: A New Mexico Passion Play", Translated by Thomas J. Steele, (Steele # 4), (UNM ZIM CSWR PN3211 T6 H6)
  10. "Music of the Penitente Brotherhood" Richard Stark, (Steele # 140), (MOIFA Library 783.95 785)
  11. "Penitentes Manual," Compiled by José Dolores López, (Steele # 67), (UNM ZIM CSWR BX3653 U6 P38)
  12. "Romancero de Nuevo Mejico" by Aurelio Macedonio Espinoza, (Steele #58), (UNM ZIM CSWR MC199 R65 1953a)
  13. "The New Mexican alabado", with transcription of music by Eleanor Hague, (Steele # 20)

Non Alabados:

  1. "Corrido of Miguel Aguilar- Appendix I from La voz del pueblo…", by Federico Antonio Reade Jr, (UNM ZIM CSWR Th/Ds LD 3783 L29)
  2. "Fiestas in our mountain villages…" (UNM ZIM CSWR BV43.F53)
  3. List of songs- Juan B. Rael Collection, Library of Congress, (Steele # 99), (
  4. Penitente : the credo in verse" by Jo Roybal Izay, (Steele # 77), (ENMPO BX3653.U6 I9)
  5. Selections from devotionals,(Steele # 27), (NMSRCA - Prince Collection)
  6. Spanish Folk-Poetry in New Mexico by Arthur L. Campa, pps. 58-69, (Steele # 25), (UNM ZIM CSWR 861.04 C15s)
  7. Tome, N.M. - Book of lyrics from Fr. Ralliere to Clotilde Sedillo, Tomé, N.M. (NMSRCA - Tibo Chavez Collection of Song Books)
  8. "Village Musical Life along the Rio Grande: Tomé, N.M. since 1739", (Steele # 7), (Latin American Review, Vol. 18, #2 1997)
Finding Aid of the Thomas J. Steele alabado collection, 1780-2003
© 2011
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Finding aid is in English

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