It’s a new year and time to add a new calendar to your wall. Unfortunately, this year, you will not be able to purchase one from the Archives and Special Collections (ASC). Due to COVID-19, we had to take a pause from some of our usual practices. Over the years, the ASC has produced some spectacular calendars. We have shared images from the Rio Grande Historical Collections (RGHC) and some from local amateur photographers. This post reflects calendars from another time passed.
An image of the Mayan calendar instantly comes to mind when you mention the words ancient calendar. While it is true that the Mayan calendar is the most similar to our modern calendar (solar year), the Mayans were not the first to record time. Archaeologists agree that the Neolithic or New Stone Age people attempted to record time. Later, the Roman calendar or the Julian calendar reformed by Julius Caesar came along. He is the one who is responsible for leap year. Every four years, that extra day synchronized the calendar with the Earth’s orbit around the sun. It takes the Earth 365.25 days to orbit around the sun. That quarter day every four years adds up to a full day. Unaccounted for over time, the calendar would be off 25 days from the solar year in 100 years. February could end up being a summer month!
Even the leap year had to be dissected and improved upon, and so it was in 1582 by a German mathematician, Christopher Clavius, and Pope Gregory XIII. Enter the Gregorian calendar, which corrected the leap day and stated that years ending in “00” should not add the leap year unless it is also divisible by 400. I will stop there with the nerdy science stuff because I’m a reader, not a math-er.
I just wanted to give a short intro to calendars and why the recording of time has been significant. In ASC, we have a collection of calendars in the Amador collection. The Amadors were a prosperous family in the Mesilla Valley.
Martin and his family founded the Amador Hotel, a historic property that still stands in Las Cruces’ heart, downtown. Martin owned general stores in Las Cruces and in Silver City. He held several public offices, including county treasurer and deputy U.S. marshal. He was a prominent Catholic Church benefactor. Martin was a busy man and had reason to keep track of time. The calendars below are a sampling of what is in box 63 of the Amador family papers. The calendars reflect different functions that calendars represented; they were not just pretty pictures to hang on a wall.
For example, the 1945 Farmers Market and Supply Co. calendar was multi-functional. This calendar included a hanging system where one would hang the calendar depending on the month. It prominently displayed a table to keep track of stud services. According to this calendar, if your mare was “serviced” on January 6th, you could expect a new addition to your farm on or about December 11th, 340 days later. The calendar also sports a metal clip for holding a pencil to circle essential dates if you look closely.
The 1951 Saint Genevieve church calendar was in Spanish; it also marked a significant time. It highlighted events, beliefs, and aspects of the Catholic faith. All Sundays are sanctified and marked in red. Notice that the 8th, 12th, and 25th are also marked in red? They are other holy days that required the same observance as Sunday.
The 1903 calendar from Lane’s Drugs, Books & Co was a pretty picture to look at and not much function other than to see the date if you had good eyesight. The frame of the calendar is about the size of a paperback book. However, the calendar of dates is about the size of a business card glued to the lower-left corner. The frame for the calendar is an exceptional piece. It is die-cut and beautifully embossed on glossy cardstock paper that still maintains its gloss 118 years later.
The last piece of ephemera that I share with you is a sad tale for many reasons. First, this 1890 calendar is in the shape of a binding corset. Second, it also required good eyesight to read the dates. It seemed that importance was placed more on the ten questions to ask yourself with only one answer, Dr. Warner’s Coraline Corset. The ten questions and good reasons why is addressed to Julieta Amador. The third part of this sad tale is the demise of the Warner Brothers Corset Company. After years of warning women of the dangers of wearing a corset, Dr. Warner gave up his practice. Along with his brother, he invented a corset made from the Mexican Ixtle plant’s fibers, or as we know it, the Agave plant. The flexible fiber made movement more possible and breathing a little easier. It also made the Warner brothers millionaires, but the company did not last long.
Although not millionaires, the Amador family legacy remains a rich part of the Mesilla Valley history. We continue to turn to this collection as a primary source. Once it is safe to have outside visitors and researchers on campus, we invite you to explore this extraordinary collection of ephemera. If you are unable to visit because of the restrictions, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to assist you remotely.