Angélico Chávez, 1954. Photographer Charles Herbert. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, Neg. No. 007123

About Angélico Chávez

The library is named after Franciscan priest Fray Angélico Chávez to honor his life and contributions to New Mexico as an author, archivist, and artist. His personal papers, the Fray Angélico Chávez Collection, are now part of the library collection where he conducted much of his research.


Angélico Chávez (born Manuel Ezequiel Chávez in Wagon Mound, New Mexico) was the first native New Mexican to become a Franciscan.

A prominent historian and intellectual, he spent a lifetime researching New Mexico history, writing books, scholarly articles, poetry, and fiction. He was also a self-taught artist and mural painter. Because of his artistic talents in seminary school he took the religious name Angélico, after the early Renaissance painter Fra Angelico.

During WWII and the Korean War, he served as an army chaplain. He later worked as the official archivist at the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, where he translated and cataloged their archives. He is the author of the important historical and genealogical work Origins of New Mexico Families. His personal papers, the Fray Angélico Chávez Collection, are now part of the library collection where he conducted much of his research.

A bronze statue of Chávez by artist Donna Quasthoff stands on Washington Avenue outside the building that currently houses the library and photo archives of the New Mexico History Museum.

More about Chávez is available from the Office of the State Historian

Books by Chávez

History and Genealogy

Novels and Short Stories

  • The Short Stories of Fray Angelico Chavez
  • When the Santos Talked; A Retablo of New Mexico Tales
  • New Mexico Triptych: Being Three Panels and Three Accounts
  • From an Altar Screen; El Retablo: Tales from New Mexico
  • The Lady from Toledo


  • Clothed with the Sun
  • The Virgin of Port Lligat.
  • Eleven Lady-lyrics, and Other Poems
  • Cantares: Canticles and Poems of Youth, 1925-1932.
  • Selected Poems, with an Apologia

100th Anniversary Symposium Speakers

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Chávez’s birth on April 10, 2010, the library sponsored a symposium of distinguished speakers, including historians, writers, and those who knew Chávez personally.

Morning Session Audio (2:12:27) 

  • Tomas Jaehn, introductory remarks (8 min)
  • Frances Levine, director of the New Mexico History Museum; Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan, Archdiocese of Santa Fe (25 min)
  • Jimmy Santiago Baca, poet (10 min)
  • Fabian Chávez, former legislative leader, longtime public servant and brother of Fray Angélico (15 min)
  • Nasario Garcia, professor emeritus of Hispanic Languages and Literatures (30 min)
  • Thomas E. Chávez, former director, Palace of the Governors (30 min)

Afternoon Session Audio (1:46:48)

  • Tomas Jaehn, introductory remarks (4 min)
  • Melina Vizcaino, doctoral candidate, American Studies Department, University of New Mexico (30 min)
  • Jack Clark Robinson, O.F.M., Ph.D., History, University of California-Santa Barbara (30 min)
  • Ellen McCracken, professor of Spanish, University of California-Santa Barbara and author of The Life and Writing of Fray Angelico Chavez: A New Mexico Renaissance Man (30 min)

Concluding Remarks, Testimonials, Questions & Answers (1:50:19)


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