Brandon Morgan


Brandon Morgan, a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at UNM and adjunct instructor of History at Central New Mexico Community College, presents, "Columbus, New Mexico: A Study in the Creation of a Border Place Myth 1888-1916" Friday, April 22 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Waters Room 105 in Zimmerman Library.

His scholarly focus is the U.S.‐Mexico borderlands around the time of the Mexican Revolution.

This talk is part of his dissertation project, "Columbus, New Mexico, and Palomas, Chihuahua: The Rural Borderlands, 1888‐1962"

Mexican Revolutionary General Francisco "Pancho" Villa's raid on Columbus in the early morning hours of March 9, 1916, put the small New Mexican village on the national (and international) map. Although from our present‐day perspective Columbus (when it is mentioned at all) is remembered as the site of the only organized Mexican revolutionary attack on U.S. soil, by 1916 boosters had been at work for over a decade to bring the border village to national notoriety.

Agents of the Columbus & Western New Mexico Townsite Company published pamphlets and fliers to promote the up‐and‐coming town. In the weekly Columbus News and its successor, the Columbus Courier, references were routinely made to the projected growth of the town. At times editor P. G. Mosely even argued that Columbus would exceed El Paso, Texas, in size and notoriety within only a few short years.

Such activities were concentrated efforts to create what geographers have termed a "place myth". Place myths were aimed at overcoming negative stereotypes about a given town or region in order to recreate it as a place attractive for settlement and development. In his lecture, Morgan will argue that between 1888 and 1916 boosters, settlers, and capitalists attempted to create a place myth in and around Columbus that would redraw it as the pinnacle of American development and modernization along the international border between New Mexico and Chihuahua.

The construction of this place myth illustrates the ways in which elite actors attempted to recreate the Columbus area as a space firmly controlled by white Americans. Their efforts, however, were ultimately defied by Mexican revolutionary actions beyond their control.

The Scholars Program was established to promote an understanding and appreciation of New Mexico history by supporting scholarly research in New Mexico archival repositories. Financial support for the Scholars Program is made possible through a partnership between the Historical Society of New Mexico and the Office of State Historian, a Division of the State Records Center and Archives.

Under the program, fellowships of up to $1,000 are awarded to students and other scholars to perform research in New Mexico archival repositories on topics relating to New Mexico history and culture. Funding for the fellowships is made possible through the generosity of several non‐profit organizations. These include the Humanities Council of New Mexico, the Ellison

Family Grant, the Center for Regional Studies at the University of New Mexico, the King/Carpenter Foundation and the Historical Society's Paul Carpenter Education Fund and Jane Sanchez Legacy Fund. The partnership allows the continuation of a program that had been suspended due to budgetary limitations at the State Records Center and Archives.

For more information about the program, please contact: Dennis Trujillo, Ph.D. at 505.476.7998 or by email, dennis.trujillo@state.nm.us.