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Aurelio M. Espinosa & Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-999-BC

Scope and Content

Collection contains materials produced or collected by Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Sr and Junior related to their careers. Collection has two series - Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Sr. and Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Jr.

The first series Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Sr. is arranged in the following subseries: Publications which contains primarily reprints or offprints of Journal Articles by Aurelio M. Espinosa; Journal articles and books by other New Mexico, Southwest, and Mexico authors and by family members: Aurelio Espinosa Jr., Francisco Ramón Espinosa, and Manuel Espinosa; programs and university related pamphlets. Also includes material published by various authors including Novelas, Novenas and Theater booklets by various authors, language Studies; and Folklore and Miscellaneous Texts from Spain and Latin America. The second sub-series in the Sr. series is Correspondence which contains letters grouped into: Personal, Publishing/Academic/Career/Miscellaneous, Spain and Civil War related and Estate/Ephemera. The third sub-series Field Research contains notebooks and notes taken by Espinosa Sr. The forth sub-series includes Photos and the fifth sub-series is Newspapers collected by Espinosa Sr. with many having articles written by him.

The second series Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Jr. is smaller in size and is arranged in the following subseries: Biographical / Family, Correspondence, Professional / Instructional, Publications, Draft Manuscripts, Research, and Newspapers.


  • 1895-2006

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

Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Sr. was born to Celso Espinosa and Rafaela Martinez on September 12, 1880 in El Carnero, Colorado. His parent are both from old New Mexican families. He was one of fourteen children. As a child he received a bilingual education from his father who was a school teacher. As a child in the San Luis valley of Colorado he learned about New Mexican/Spanish folk tales and ballads. Aurelio Espinosa attended Del Norte High School in Del Norte, Colorado. He graduated in June 1898. The family then moved to Boulder, Colorado so that Espinosa and his older brother Tobías could attend the college there. Aurelio married in 1905, to Margarita García, also of New Mexican descent, and had five children, Margarita, Aurelio, José Manuel, Joséfita, and Francisco Ramón. Four of their children became educators.

Espinosa attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1902. He became a professor of modern languages at the University of New Mexico. He received his MA from University of Colorado, and in 1909, he completed his Ph.D. cum laude at the University of Chicago. He joined Stanford faculty in 1910 and remained there until his retirement. He became the chairman of the Department of Romantic Languages from 1933 to 1947. He retired from his position at Stanford University in 1947.

He was known for his association with major figures also in his field of studies. He became a lifelong friend and colleague of Ramón Menéndez Pidal, to whom he presented 200 versions of forty uncollected ballads in Spain (similar to what his son would do later before the Spanish civil war). He also corresponded with Rodolfo Lenz, Julio Vicuña Cifuentes, and Ramón Laval, José María Chacón y Calvo, Fernando Ortíz, and Carolina Poncet. He also worked with anthropologists, especially Franz Boas and Elsie Clews Parsons. With Boas, he studied the influence of Hispanic folklore among the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico.

He was also amongst the founders of the Societe Internationale de Dialectologie Romane in 1909, the American Association of Teachers of Spanish in 1917 (later president in 1928), and the Linguistic Society of America in 1925. He was president of the American Folklore Society for the years 1924 and 1925. The Spanish government granted him the name of Commander of the Royal Order of Isabel la Católica; he received the Grand Cross of the Order of Alfonso el Sabio (Alfonso the Wise), and was a member of the Instituto de Cultura Hispánica. He was a member of the Royal Spanish Academy, the Hispanic Society of America, and the Academia Hispanoamericana de Ciencias y Letras de Cádiz. Espinosa received two honorary degrees: one from the University of San Francisco, and the other from the University of New Mexico.

Despite his sometimes disapproved-of conservative politics, Espinosa did contribute largely to the study of New Mexican culture and how intertwined that culture is with that of its Spanish settlers during the sixteenth and seventeenth century. He began with his dissertation, Studies in New-Mexican Spanish (1909), which was published in three parts (Phonology, Morphology, the English Elements) between the years 1909 and 1914. In this work, he emphasizes how the Spanish dialect spoken in New Mexico is a perfect conservation of the Spanish that was first introduced during the sixteenth century. He also described the fusion between the two languages (English and Spanish) that became common in Northern New Mexico due to the settling of Anglo-Americans; this fusion included the incorporation of English-origin words and the Hispanicization of certain words. Along with the study of the interaction between the languages, he also studied Spanish ballads, folktales, proverbs, riddles, children’s games, and nursery rhymes. He was the first to collect vast numbers of versions of the same ballads/folktales (especially noted is the Tar Baby story). Aurelio M. Espinosa(Sr.) died on September 4, 1958 after a long illness.

(Source: Wikipedia -

Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Jr. was born in 1907 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His parents were Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Sr. (1880–1958) and María Margarita García Espinosa (1886–1958). There were many similarities between Jr. and Sr. and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the works of both since they had the same first and middle names and the two had very similar careers and research interests. Jr. was also a professor at Stanford University and also an expert on Spanish linguistics. He also focused on Spanish American folklore. He was also a scholar of linguistic geography working primarily in Spain. He died in Palo Alto, California in 2004, at the age of 97.



13 Boxes, 3 oversize Folders (16.5 cubic ft.)


Contains material produced or collected by Aurelio Espinosa Sr. and Aurelio Espinosa Jr. Both father and son were pioneers in the fields of New Mexican Spanish language and regional folklore and cultural productions. The material in the collection also reflects the extensive research on folklore traditions both father and son conducted in Latin America and particularly in Spain where they befriended and interacted with Spanish officials including General Francisco Franco during his regime.

Related Material

Espinosa, Aurelio M. (Sr.), Studies in New Mexico Spanish, Diss., University of Chicago, 1909.

Espinosa, Aurelio M. (Jr.), Atlas Linqüístico de la Península IbéricaConsejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain, 1962.

Separated Material

Publications transferred to the CSWR book shelves and catalogued in the general library Worldcat system.
  1. Revista de filologia Portuguesa. Ano 2 nums. 21-24
  2. Cuentos populares españoles tomos 1-3
  3. Conchita Arguello : historia y novela californiana
  4. Porto-Rican folklore. Riddles
  5. Revista bimestre cubana. v.25 Mayo-Junio 1930 no.3
  6. The Journal of American folklore v.XXIX October-December, 1916 no. CXIV
  7. (Cuentos Populares Españoles) Stanford University publications. University series. Language and literature.
  8. Folklore americano. No. 3 and 4
  9. El recién nacido
  10. El Periquillo Sarniento Part II
  11. El final de Norma
  12. Anedotas fáceis
  13. La Casa Colonial
  14. Trafalgar
  15. España Lecciones elementales sobre la historia de la civilizacion
  16. El Romancero Español
  17. FF communications (nos. 180, 184, 186, 192, and index for nos. 1-195)
  18. La muela del Rey Farfan
  19. Conchita Arguello : historia y novela californiana (1938 Hardcover edion.)
  20. Consuelo
  21. Elementary Spanish Reader
  22. Teatro De Ensuno
  23. Juan Martin el Empecinado
  24. Advanced Spanish composition and conversation, 1927
  25. Advanced Spanish composition and conversation, 1928
Finding Aid of Aurelio M. Espinosa & Family Papers, 1880-2002
Samuel Sisneros
© 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English
Funding for processing fellowship provided by Center for Regional Studies, University of New Mexico, Dr. Gabriel Meléndez, Director. Collection processed by Angelica Padilla and Samuel Sisneros.

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