History of UNM Press: The Largest Book Publishing Company in New Mexico

On Sunday, November 20, 2022, Beth Hadas spoke on the 92-year history of the University of New Mexico Press and provided a lesson in the history of book publishing in the second half of the twentieth century as well as a in some ways an overview of New Mexico history and literature. It will answer the question: “How did the canon get established?” The program was held at the Albuquerque Museum at 2000 Mountain Rd. NW in Old Town.

The administrative and storage offices of the UNM Press have been moved a lot around the campus since 1929. Starting out in 1929 in a building immediately to the west of Carlisle Gym, the administrative offices over the years have been moved to such locations as: Marron Hall, Communications and Journalism Building, 1720 Lomas NE, and 1717 Roma Avenue NE. Various warehouses where books were stored over the years include: Communications and Journalism Building, Building #262 adjacent to KNME on University Blvd NE, Spirit Drive SE south of the airport, and currently at 1312 Basehart Road SE on the South Campus.

Free printed copies of the current UNM Press Catalog was handed out to the first 38 people who showed up for this meeting of the Albuquerque Historical Society.

Photo of Beth HadasElizabeth “Beth” Hadas grew up in New York City and attended Hunter College Elementary School and Hunter College High School, which are schools located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan established for intellectually talented and gifted students. Beth states that Hunter College High School was the best school she ever attended. Her mother, Elizabeth M. Chamberlayne Hadas, was a Latin Teacher and eventually became Head of the Latin Department teacher at the exclusive Spence School for Girls in Manhattan and founded a free library for young students there. Her father, Dr. Moses Hadas, who passed away at the age of 66 in 1966, was the John Jay Professor of Greek at Columbia University in Manhattan. In a career of over 40 years at Columbia he published over 30 books, many being translations of ancient Greek and Latin classical literature.

Beth’s collegiate education includes: a B.A. degree from Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts; M.A.;  and All But Dissertation (ABD) degrees at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Beth and her former husband were graduate students at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri when they got married in 1970. They moved to Albuquerque in 1971. She applied for and got a job at the University of New Mexico (UNM) Press. She worked at the UNM Press from October 1971 until the end of 2017. She was director from 1985 to 2000. She retired in 2000 but continued to work part time off and on for almost 20 years after that, acquiring a few books and writing promotional copy. She is now retired from UNM but still does free-lance work from time to time.

Photo of Journalism and UNM Press building 1949
Journalism and UNM Press building 1949