Friday, September 11, 2009

The More Things Change

Santa Fe 400th AnniversaryA patron called recently and wanted information about her uncle who passed away in Santa Fe in 1929. For questions like these, the best source is the Microfilm—the back issues of the Santa Fe New Mexican to be exact. Since the early New Mexican was never indexed, questions like these involve long hours in front of those ancient machines, scrolling through page after page.

LindberghWhat I thought might be a tad tedious turned out to be fascinating. My search focused on the spring months of 1929: just before the Great Depression, at the height of Prohibition. Baby Face Nelson on the front page, Charles Lindbergh returning from his honeymoon, NY Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his son's wedding. Speakeasies and booze parlors and demon drink articles galore! And then the things that don't change: Santa Fe rents rise with the summer tourist influx; corruption and scandal locally, nationally and internationally; military news and cultural events.

Also throughout the spring of 1929: a regular column called "A Library Is a Necessity Not a Luxury". These informational articles talk about how the library benefits residents and visitors alike. The article from April 17th, page 7, states:
Imagine the surprise of some such intelligent traveler if he were to be told: "No, we have no library." He would probably go away with an impression of Santa Fe so unfavorable that not all its attractions would be enough to counterbalance it.
Unfortunately, the column is replaced in the April 27th edition with a front page notice entitled: "The Library May Close". After fundraising only brought in $1,000, the article states, "The library must have $5,000 or suspend operations..." I'm still in the midst of this research, and I feel as if I stopped reading a mystery just before finding out whodunit! *

Prohibition : thirteen years that changed America As the City celebrates its 400th Anniversary and 297th Fiesta, it's thrilling to examine just a slice of that history from 80 years ago, and to see how so much has stayed the same.

* So I don't leave you in unbearable suspense, the City of Santa Fe did step up to save the Library, its jewel in the City. There, now you won't lose any sleep.

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