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Espinosa, Aurelio M(acedonio, Sr.) locked

  • John Koegel

(b El Carnero, CO, Sept 12, 1880; d Palo Alto, CA, Sept 4, 1958). American folklorist and educator. Born in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado to a prominent Hispano family with deep roots in New Mexico, Espinosa was one of the first US- born Latinos to earn a teaching post at an American university. Although folklorists without formal training such as Charles Fletcher Lummis and Eleanor Hague studied Spanish-language folksongs of the Southwest, Espinosa made the folksongs of Spanish-speaking peoples a legitimate area for scholarly research at a time when individuals of Hispano, Mexican, or Latino heritage were generally discouraged from pursuing higher education. Like Lummis and Hague, Espinosa viewed this repertory as Spanish American rather than Mexican and believed that New Mexican folksong had more in common with Spanish antecedents than with traditional Mexican song. Espinosa was the New Mexican analogue to Francis James Child. Unlike Child, he collected folk ballads from local people in person, although, like Child, he did not study the music that went with the texts he gathered. Espinosa published more than 175 scholarly articles and about a dozen longer monographs, as well as 30 Spanish textbooks. He served as associate editor of the Journal of American Folklore (1914–46) and president of the American Folklore Society (1924–25) and received extensive honors. Espinosa earned the AB and the AM (University of Colorado, 1902, 1904), and the PhD (University of Chicago, 1909). He taught Spanish at the University of New Mexico (1902–10) and at Stanford University to his retirement (1910–47); at Stanford he served as head of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures (1932–47). His son José Manuel Espinosa (1909–99), chief historian for the U.S. Department of State), studied New Mexican folklore with him at Stanford and edited an anthology of his father’s writings (The Folklore of Spain in the American Southwest, 1985).


(selective list)

  • “Romancero nuevomejicano,” Revue Hispanique, vol.33 (1915), 446–560; vol.40 (1917), 215–27
  • “Los romances tradicionales en California,” Homenaje a Menéndez Pidal, 3 vols. (Madrid, 1924), 1:299–313
  • “Folklore de California,” Miscelánea filológica dedicada a D. Antonio M. Alcover (Palma de Mallorca, 1930), 111–31
  • “Romances españoles tradicionales que cantan y relatan los indios de los pueblos de Nuevo Méjico,” Boletín de la Biblioteca Menéndez y Pelayo, vol.14 (1932), 98–109
  • Romancero de Nuevo Méjico (Madrid, 1953)
  • The Folklore of Spain in the American Southwest, ed. J. Manuel Espinosa (Norman, OK, 1985)


  • G.E. McSpadden: “Aurelio M. Espinosa (1880–1958),” Hispania, vol.42/1 (1959), 20–21
  • P.J. García: “The New Mexican Ballad Tradition: Reconsidering the Early New Mexican Folklorists’ Contributions to Songs of Intercultural Conflict,” LAMR, vol.17/2 (1996), 150–71
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