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Sophie D. Aberle Photograph Collection

 Collection
Identifier: PICT 000-509

Scope and Content

The collection contains photos and prints collected by Sophie D. Aberle. Persons depicted include Sophie D. Aberle and friends, W. A. Brophy, John Collier, and various Native Americans. Other noteable photos show the damage caused by the San Francisco Earthquake (circa 1898), Aberle's home in the Petroglyph Monument near Albuquerque, and San Ildefonso potter, Maria Martinez. Native American issues are represented by images of the Congress of American Indians (circa 1938), Indian affairs events, photos of the Commissioner(s) of Indian Affairs (William Brophy and John Collier), the Navajo Farm Training Project, the Indian Building and exhibts (at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds?), and the Computer Assisted Education Project. Also includes prints--such as Japanese watercolors, Galvez Suartz paintings, and original paintings by Native American artists depicting Native American traditions. The 4 oversized prints housed in the Pictorial Collections oversize drawers are a watercolor painting of an Isleta Pueblo Dance by Bartolo Lente and 3 color prints of Japanese Army battles and victories.

Dates

  • 1896-1996

Creator

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for copyright compliance. For more information see the Photographs and Images Research Guide and contact the Pictorial Archivist.

Biography

Sophie D. Aberle was born Sophie Bledsoe Herrick on July 21, 1896 in Schenectady, New York. As a youth she had several instrumental female mentors, among them her grandmother and namesake, Sophia Bledsoe Herrick, a science and history writer for popular magazines. Educated by private tutors, Aberle (the name was from a brief marriage) applied for and received high school credit in order to attend college at the University of California in Berkeley. She later transferred to Stanford University where she completed her B.A in 1923, M.A. in 1925, and earned a doctorate in anatomy in 1927. Upon leaving Stanford, she came to New Mexico for the first time to research sexual behavior at San Juan Pueblo. Quickly discovering that the language barrier would prevent that research, instead she focused on the social life and customs of the pueblo. She returned to school at Yale University School of Medicine where she researched female reproductive biology, earning an M.D in 1930.

In 1935, John Collier, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, united five Indian administrative units to form the United Pueblos Agency. Aberle, who by this time had researched and published several articles on child birth and mortality among the Pueblos, was named superintendent of the new agency. Encompassing both the New Deal and World War II eras, her administration focused on issues relating to health, education, land, and agriculture. During this time she met William A. Brophy, Special Council for the Pueblos; they married in 1940. In 1944 Brophy was appointed Commission of Indian Affairs. Aberle left the United Pueblos Agency to accompany him to Washington where she did medical research for the National Academy of Science.

Returning to Albuquerque in 1948, Aberle continued her professional interest in health care and her service to the Native American population of New Mexico. She was a research director at the University of New Mexico, a health consultant to the All Indian Pueblo Council, a founder and staff member of the Bernalillo County Medical Center, on staff at the University of New Mexico Department of Psychiatry, and served on the New Mexico Commission on Indian Affairs, to name a few of her numerous activities. Of national note, she was Director of the BIA Indian Education Survey, 1963-1967 and a member of the Commission on the Rights, Liberties and Responsibilities of the American Indian, becoming Executive Director in 1959 when William Brophy resigned due to poor health.

In 1965 she began working with Pueblo leaders to bring computers into the pueblo schools. Her association with the Computer Assisted Instruction Program lasted until 1976 when she was fired by the All Indian Pueblo Council in a dispute over financial control. At that point she became disillusioned about her life-long approach toward working with Native Americans. She began 9 years of effort at writing a book based on her career. Alternatively titled, "Our Illusion of Roots" and "The End of an Illusion," the manuscript, a somewhat disaffected review of her career, was never published.

Aberle died in Albuquerque in 1996, having celebrated her 100th birthday. Her home on Albuquerque's West Mesa now serves as the visitor's center for Petroglyph National Monument.

Extent

3 boxes (600+ photographic prints, paintings), 4 large prints

Language of Materials

Undetermined

Abstract

The collection contains photos and prints collected by Sophie D. Aberle. Persons depicted include Sophie D. Aberle and friends. Native American issues are represented by images of the Congress of American Indians (circa 1938), Indian affairs events, photos of the Commissioner(s) of Indian Affairs, the Navajo Farm Training Project, the Indian Building, and exhibits (at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds?), and the Computer Assisted Education Project.

Physical Location

B2. Shelved by Pictorial Number. Oversize box shelved in Big Box location by Pictorial Number, in Conservation Studio January, 2019. Large prints filed in large drawers by Pictorial Number.

Alternate Format Available

A small portion of the Sophie D. Aberle Photograph Collection is available online via New Mexico Digital Collections.

Separated Material

Photographs separated from the Sophie D. Aberle Papers.

Postcards transfered to the Postcard Collection (PICT 995-027).
Title
Finding Aid of the Sophie D. Aberle Photograph Collection, 1896-1996
Status
Edited Full Draft
Author
Pictorial Collections Staff
Date
© 2007
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

Contact:
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131