of New Mexico
Text by Sharon Niederman
From the opening days of the Santa Fe Trail in the 1820s to the era of the first World War, Jewish immigrants, mainly young German men of modest means, traveled west in search of a better life than was possible in Europe. Several among them the Spiegelbergs, Staabs, Zeckendorfs and Ilfelds, who built trading empires settled in Santa Fe, then later, as economic conditions changed, in Las Vegas and Albuqueruque. Others traveled to outlying small towns in New Mexico, from Tucumcari to Wagon Mound to Bernalillo, where they established themselves as merchants.
Through archival photographs, original journals and memoirs, extensive historic research and the compilation of artifacts of the era, the exhibit, "Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico," tells the largely unknown story of these immigrants, how they built families, maintained community and faith, and how they became accepted and often influential citizens in their adopted home in the American West. The exhibit is now traveling through New Mexico. Contact the Traveling Exhibitions Program of the Museum of New Mexico (TREX) web site <www.trexnm.org> for specific sites and dates.