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Maisel Family and Business Papers

Identifier: MSS-983-BC

Scope and Content

The collection includes extensive autobiographical and biographical information, revealing much about the history of the Maisel family and the development of the Maisels’ Albuquerque businesses. Family histories discuss many other Jewish families in Albuquerque, offering significant insight into the religious, social and business life of the Jewish community in Albuquerque in the first half of the 20th century. The collection includes photographs of family, friends and business associates. Family and business papers document the founding, development and operations of Maisel’s Indian Trading Post. Business papers include audit reports, trademark documents and a number of Maisel’s catalogs and other business publications. The collection also includes an extensive collection of photographs of jewelry. There are also some materials related to Maisel relatives in El Paso and Eagle Pass, Texas. The oversize folder includes photographs and artwork by Seymour Maisel.


  • 1890-1999

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

Maurice Moses Maisel was born Maurice Moses Fromm to parents Leib Fromm and Eva (Chavvah) Fromm in Trembovla, Austria on August 8, 1888. Leib Fromm died when Maurice was a year old, and his mother later married Hyman Israel Maisel. In 1893, the Maisel family emigrated to New York City. There, while working as a clerk for Western Union Telegraph in 1909, Maurice met Cyma Minin, the sister of one of his coworkers. Cyma Minin was born May 5, 1892 in Minsk, Russia, and emigrated to the New York City with her parents and two brothers in 1907. Maurice and Cyma became engaged. A diagnosis of tuberculosis intervened, however, and Maurice transferred with Western Union first to Denver and then to Albuquerque and Silver City, New Mexico. Cyma joined Maurice in Silver City and the couple married on August 22, 1912. The Maisels relocated to Albuquerque in 1914, where Maurice worked as a manager for Western Union Telegraph and later as vice-president of Citizens National Bank. The Maisels had three children: Albert, Edith and Seymour (Buddy).

In 1923, Maurice partnered with Ben Marcus, another Jewish merchant, to purchase Henry Rothman’s music and jewelry store at 117 South First Street, across from the Albuquerque Train Depot and Fred Harvey’s Alvarado Hotel; after eleven months, the Maisels bought out Marcus and assumed sole ownership of the First Street store. Initially, the Maisels designed the jewelry and employed Native American artisans—both men and women—to create it. By 1928, much of the Maisels’ jewelry was machine-made, though even these pieces were often finished by hand. By 1934, the Maisels employed about seventy Native craftspeople. Recognizing that tourist travel was shifting from trains to automobiles, the Maisels opened a second retail store at 324 Central SW in 1933. In 1938, they relocated this shop to 402 Central SW.

Perhaps to further capitalize on the proposed rerouting of Route 66 through downtown Albuquerque (which was formally implemented in 1937), the Maisels commissioned renowned New Mexico architect John Gaw Meem to design a new building for them, and on July 23, 1939, Maisel’s Indian Trading Post opened at 510 Central Avenue SW, selling Indian and Mexican curios. Built in a style described as Pueblo Deco, the façade was adorned with murals designed by Olive Rush and painted by Native American artists including Pablita Velarde, Narciso Abeyta, Joe Herrera, Ben Quintana, Harrison Begay and Pop Chalee. Inside the store, customers could watch Native craftspeople at work from a showroom floor balcony overlooking the basement below. In 1940, the Maisels employed as many as 100 Native artisans. Upon Maurice’s retirement in 1963, the Maisels’ son Seymour assumed management of the store; it continued operation at this location (though under the Sunbell Corporation after 1972) until closing in 1977 with a plan to relocate to Albuquerque’s Old Town. The Maisels’ grandson Skip Maisel reopened the main store on Central Avenue in the 1980s.


2 boxes and 1 oversize folder (2 cu. ft.)


This collection contains family and business papers and photographs related to the family of Maurice and Cyma (Minin) Maisel of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and to their business, Maisel’s Indian Trading Post.

Related Material

John Gaw Meem Job Files, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Albuquerque and New Mexico Pamphlet Collection, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. National New Deal Preservation Association Records, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Emma Moya Collection on the History of Old Town Albuquerque and Related Communities, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Louis G. Hesselden Architectural Drawings and Plans Collection, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Nancy Tucker Collection of Southwest Materials Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Batkin, Jonathan. The Native American Curio Trade in New Mexico. n.p.: Santa Fe, N.M.: Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, [2008], 2008.
Finding Aid of the Maisel Family and Business Papers, 1890-1999
© 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • 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