Jesse Nusbaum’s Footprint in Santa Fe

Jesse Nusbaum at Mesa Verde National Park in 1907.

Nusbaum Street just off the Santa Fe plaza at Washington Avenue is named for Jesse Nusbaum. He was born in Greely, CO, in 1887. He came to New Mexico in 1907 as the youngest professor at the New Mexico Normal School in Las Vegas. Shortly thereafter, he assisted A.V. Kidder as an assistant at Mesa Verde as a photographer and archaeologist. Nusbaum became the first archaeologist employed by the National Park Service in New Mexico.

Edgar L. Hewitt

In 1909 Nusbaum was hired by Edgar E. Hewett at the School of American Archaeology and the Museum of New Mexico. In 1915 he constructed a replica of the Museum of New Mexico for the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego. In 1917 he oversaw the construction of Santa Fe’s Fine Arts Museum. From 1938 to 1958, while working at the National Park Service as the senior archaeologist, Nusbaum was also a consulting archaeologist to the Depart of the Interior.

Back to Santa Fe

Before his stint in Washington D.C. Nusbaum took this 1914 photo of the circus in Santa Fe. It was a promotional image taken in front of the Palace of the Governors. In 1931 he returned to the capital city to help build the Laboratory of Anthropology, becoming its first director. Throughout his prolific career he captured the essence of the people of Santa Fe. The indelible footprint of photography left by Jesse L. Nusbaum is but a tiny part of his contributions to the Southwest. He died in Santa Fe in 1975.

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