Linda Hall, Distinguished Emerita Professor of History at The University of New Mexico, died at her son’s home on Sept. 30, 2022. A memorial service is set for Saturday, April 1, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the UNM Alumni Memorial Chapel to coincide with the Rocky Mountain Latin American Studies Conference in Santa Fe that weekend.
Hall’s life and career centered around her family, students, colleagues and friends, and her dedication to the study of modern Mexico, the history of the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S-Mexican relations, and the history of women and gender in the Americas. Her history training as an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin, an M.A. student at Southern Methodist University, and a Ph.D. student at Columbia degree were informed by experiences as a descendent of a family that settled in New Braunfels, Texas in the 19th century and her early adult life living in Colombia, where she raised her two beloved children, Leslie and Douglas. Hall’s first teaching position was at Trinity University in San Antonio, and in 1986 she joined The University of New Mexico as a full professor and became a Distinguished Professor in 2008.
Hall’s research and writing prowess and her insatiable intellectual curiosity resulted in a diverse body of work that began with the publication of a political history of Álvaro Obregón, Álvaro Obregón: Power and Revolution in Mexico, 1911-1920 (1981). Over two decades, she collaborated with Don M. Coerver, a widely published specialist in the modern history of Latin America. They co-authored three works that created foundational knowledge about the revolution, borderlands history, and the history of Mexico-U.S. relations: Texas and the Mexican Revolution (1984), Revolution on the Border (1988) and Tangled Destinies: Latin America and the United States (1999). In between these collaborations, Hall published a book on Mexico’s relationship to the global oil industry and international banking in Oil, Banks, and Politics: The United States and Post-revolutionary Mexico, 1917-1924 (1995).
As Hall’s early career was defined by collaboration with a friend and colleague from graduate school, so too was her career at UNM shaped by collaboration and friendship.
A long-time colleague and collaborator, Susan Tiano, Professor Emerita in Sociology, recalled, “When Linda and I were hired at UNM in the early-to-mid 1980s, our shared interests in Latin America — and the relative scarcity of women faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences — drew us together and formed the basis for a life-long friendship. We collaborated to supervise graduate students, to develop curriculum in Latin American gender studies, and to recruit and mentor Latin Americanist faculty. The quality of her contributions became particularly apparent to me after 2009, when I became the director of the Latin American and Iberian Institute and came to rely on Linda for support, advice, and professional connections as we worked to secure grant funding and bolster UNM’s strengths in Latin American studies and programs.
"Linda had high aspirations for herself, her students, and the LAII, and worked tirelessly to fulfill them, but she never lost sight of the importance of kindness and compassion in her dealings with students and colleagues. She was an impressive scholar, teacher, and administrator whose three-plus decades of service have left UNM a much better place. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have known and loved her,” said Tiano.
Hall not only developed curriculum in Latin American gender studies but worked with UNM professors Jane Slaughter and Virginia Scharff to establish a Ph.D. field in the History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality in 1993. The intellectual work to develop these fields resulted in the research that occupied the latter part of Hall’s career.
In 2004, she published Mary, Mother, and Warrior: The Virgin in Spain and Latin America which explored one thousand years of Marian devotion, with an emphasis on visual culture. Her last published work, Delores Del Rio: Beauty in Light and Shade (2013) revealed Del Rio and her career in all their complexity, while engaging with themes of gender, sexuality, race, and celebrity in the Mexico and the United States. The research and writing that she did for this book informed a popular and innovative course, “Beauty, Body, and Power,” which she taught even after she retired in 2016.
Hall is remembered by her colleagues at the University of New Mexico as a teacher of exceptional merit at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and fierce advocate of women faculty, and a wonderful mentor. She directed 24 completed doctoral dissertations and over 20 M.A. theses. She distinguished herself in service to the university as director of UNM’s Latin American Studies Program (1995-2000) and on serving numerous times on committees and boards for the Latin American and Iberian Institute.
“Linda Hall will be remembered as an energetic and thoughtful colleague who made a serious effort to mentor younger colleagues and who generously supported many graduate students working on Latin America,” remarked UNM associate professor of History Manuel García y Griego.
“During my leadership of Latin American Studies, from 2009-2013, Linda Hall was always fully engaged, offering wisdom and mentorship in her abundant service. I especially remember her generous and lively travel companionship in Mexico when she and Susan Tiano and I worked on collaboration with the Universidad Autónoma Nacional de México,” recalled Kathryn McKnight, associate professor in the UNM Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Another colleague notes her warmth, graciousness, and her quick smile and laugh,
“Linda was a brilliant and prolific historian, a leader in the profession, a mentor to and pathbreaker for women professors like me. She encouraged and supported me from the first day I met her to our last conversation. She was a great traveler and adventurer, a fabulous cook and just great company. I miss her terribly,” said Scharff, UNM Distinguished Professor of History Emerita.
A former student, Suzanne Pasztor, professor of History at California Polytechnic State University, Humboldt, wrote, “Linda approached her work and her life with an infectious joy and sense of fun. Her talents extended to cooking, a hobby that was supported by an impressive personal library of cookbooks. Linda also loved watching sports, and on many a weekend she could be found at her home in Albuquerque or in the bleachers at UNM cheering on a basketball or a football team.”
Pasztor spoke to Hall’s legacy: “Her former graduate students are now abundantly sprinkled among a host of universities and schools in the United States and Mexico. Linda’s legacy of excellence and joy continues with them.”
Hall earned many professional accolades and provided leadership throughout the historical profession. She served as president of the American Historical Association’s Pacific Coast Branch, held a number of visiting professorships and fellowship which included two Fulbright Fellowships to Peru, three research awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Medalla de Acero de Mérito Histórico from the Society of History, Geography, and Statistics of Nuevo León. In 2000, the University of New Mexico recognized her as the University Research Lecturer, and she retired in 2016 as distinguished professor emerita of History.
A shorter version of this tribute was published in the May issue of Perspectives on History, the news magazine of the American Historical Association. The professional tribute was written by Pasztor. Portions of this tribute appear here.