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NMSU Library to host special event unveiling more of Fabián García’s life


New Mexico State University’s Archives and Special Collections is set to present an event that will dust off more history from the father of the state’s chile pepper, Fabián García.

For the last several years in the NMSU archives, Peter Kopp, an agricultural historian in the history department at the University of Colorado Denver and former director of public history at NMSU, has been gathering the pieces about García’s life and is currently in the process of writing a biography about him.

Kopp’s findings will be shared in his public presentation, “Fabián García’s Chile Pepper and the Botanical Transformation of the Borderlands,” at 3 p.m. Thursday, March 31, on the fourth floor of Branson Library. He said discussions will cover García’s early life, education, work as a scientist and teacher, and more.

“Nobody has written a book-length biography on García, and even the articles on him focus almost exclusively on his development of a new chile pepper variety in the early 1900s,” Kopp said. “I began research on García when I was teaching at NMSU and found that his entire story needed to be told. Since then, have I have tried to exhaust all the primary source materials –from his own journals and publications, to photographs and newspapers, and institution publications housed at NMSU – to tell his full story. It’s my hope that he will become not just a key part of New Mexican and Borderlands history, but of American history in general.”

“We’ve been happy to work with Dr. Kopp during his important research with the Fabián García papers and related collections,” said Dennis Daily, department head of NMSU Archives and Special Collections. “His biography of García will be an important contribution to the history of agriculture in the United States and will solidify García’s place in that history.”

García was a member of the very first graduating class of the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, now NMSU, in 1894.

“His life story is truly remarkable, from very humble origins in Chihuahua, Mexico, to becoming one of the most important agriculturalists of his day,” Daily said. “The role he played here at NMSU as an innovator in agricultural experimentation and as longtime director of the Ag Experiment Station, as well as his reputation as an advocate for students, make him one of the greatest Aggies this university has produced. Everyone here at NMSU should be incredibly proud of Fabián García and I think we should honor him at every opportunity.”

“I’ll be presenting the story of Fabián García not only within the context of New Mexican history, but broader contexts in national and international history,” Kopp said. “A large portion of the NMSU community – particularly in ACES– are familiar with García's contributions to the chile pepper industry. Few have dug deep enough to understand other important aspects of his – particularly how he overcame racial discrimination and a variety of obstacles in life. He did so with grace and persistence, and it’s my hope that this talk and the book I’m writing will inspire the NMSU community to embrace García’s contributions on an even grander level.”

The NMSU Library Archives and Special Collections is home to the original papers of Fabián García, including his personal and professional correspondence, publications, speeches, notebooks, and photographs. These papers document Garcia’s academic work as well as his personal interests and relationships. They are available for study and use in the Branson Library.

For more information about the event, contact Dennis Daily at ddaily@nmsu.edu.

NMSU Library, Fabián García