Photo from the National Women’s History Museum
Nuevo Mexicana, Folklore, Federal Writers’ Project, Activism
Aurora Lucero-White Lea
Aurora Lucero-White Lea was born to parents Julia Romero and Antonio Lucero in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Throughout her life, Lucero-White was committed to the Hispanic community of New Mexico, and she strived to maintain and continue the Spanish language and traditions of the area.
Lucero-White attended public school in Las Vegas, New Mexico and studied at Normal University (now Highlands University) but later left her studies to move to Santa Fe to be with her family. Her family had moved to Santa Fe due to her father’s term as the first Secretary of State of New Mexico (1912–1919). During her time in Santa Fe, Lucero-White helped in her father’s office with projects including the New Mexico art exhibition of the San Diego Exposition (1915–1917). As a young adult, she also aided her cousin, Adelina (Nina) Otero-Warren, a well-known suffragist, in lobbying for women’s voting rights by designing and distributing fliers in the Spanish language and speaking at events to recruit women to join the campaign.
Lucero-White re-entered Highlands University, receiving a Bachelor in Pedagogy. She also attended the University of Southern California, where she majored in Spanish. Lucero-White became a bi-lingual educator, and she later served as the Superintendent of Schools in San Miguel County from 1925–27. Through this position, Lucero-White was able to travel to different towns and build rapport with individuals from the towns and villages she had visited. Although Lucero-White already had a love of folklore, these visits intensified her interest in the subject.
Lucero-White was hired as an assistant professor of Spanish at Highlands University beginning in 1927 and earned her MA from Highlands University in Spanish Literature (1932). Beginning in 1934, she also served as the Assistant Superintendent of Instruction where she pushed to include folklore in schools’ curricula. Through her work, studies, and writing, Lucero-White acquired a vast knowledge of the Hispanic folklore of New Mexico. Lucero-White then retired from being an educator in 1960.
Alongside Cleofas Martínez Jaramillo, she helped found La Sociedad Folklórica in 1935. Lucero-White was a member of the New Mexico Folklore Society, and she participated in the Federal Writer’s Project for some time to document and catalogue the folklore of the Hispanic Southwest. Lucero-White’s most well-known works include:
Los Hispanos: Five Essays on the Folkways of the Hispanos (1947)
Literary Folklore of the Hispanic Southwest (1953)