Diane Schaller – Preserving Albuquerque Business History

Photo of Diane Schaller

Diane Schaller has been recognized by the Albuquerque Historical Society with an Albuquerque History Accolade for her efforts to preserve the business history of Albuquerque, save many photographs and documents related to local history, help train volunteers to lead AHS walking tours encourage others to help research and save local history.

Schaller was elected president of Historic Albuquerque, Inc. in 1999 and has served as the president every year since its founding. HAI is an organization for people who are actively involved in researching and saving Albuquerque history with an emphasis on business history. Through twenty years of Diane’s energetic leadership, HAI has played an important role in encouraging interested individuals to research, write and speak about the history of the city. Monthly HAI meetings are an important outlet for members to share knowledge that might have otherwise been lost. As a result of Diane’s efforts a significant number of people have become important collectors and preservers of Albuquerque history with an emphasis on the history of Albuquerque businesses.

An early goal for HAI was the collection of business histories. The Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque Public Library, UNM’s Center for Southwest Research and the State Archives have benefitted from this research. Diane took the lead in establishing both methods and parameters for the project and used a video camera to record interviews with individuals who had a connection to certain businesses.

Before the interviews, Diane did extensive research with a strong emphasis on newspaper research. The interviews lasted several hours with some even stretching into a full day. About 90 businesses have been part of the project including: American Furniture Company, Bachechi Enterprises, Buffet Candy, Creamland Dairies, French Mortuary, Kinney Brick, Kistler Colister, and People’s Flowers.

The Accolade acknowledges Diane’s work with Richard Ruddy to help the Albuquerque Historical Society train volunteers to lead walking tours of downtown Central Ave. for the general public. This included several classroom sessions plus practice tours on Central Ave. from First to Eighth Streets and providing input. Diane’s contribution to the project involved many hours of research before the actual training sessions.

The Accolade also recognizes Schaller’s leadership to bring together volunteers to scan photos from various sources and create the HAI Digital Photo Archive. There is an extensive digital library of photos with historic value. The digital files are stored on a computer and hard drives at the Wheels Museum HAI office. The file includes photos and rare postcards from families and serious photographers.