History of the Loretto Academy

The Early Students

Amador family portrait
Amador family portrait

The first students to attend the Academy of the Visitation in Las Cruces were young women from wealthy and prominent Mexican American families. The names of these early students read like a roster of important leading citizens: Emilia, Josefa, and Clotilde Amador; Eleanor Fletcher; Carolina Islas; Amelia Duper; Josephina and Delfina Daguerre; and Mariana Ochoa. In later years, the students were increasingly drawn from the families of the Anglo citizens.

Pamphlet article about the aim of the school
Text from Loretto Academy pamphlet stressing "no undue influence" will be exercised over students of other denominations.

The Sisters' nineteenth century students were primarily the daughters of tradesmen and businessmen, the most prominent in Las Cruces at the time. Tuitions were high and paid by the upper- and middle-class students which made it possible for poorer students to attend school for free or at a reduced price. Not only were the students economically diverse, they were also religiously diverse. The arrival of Anglo Protestants in the Southwest changed the goals of the Sisters of Loretto. Their mission no longer was to educate only Catholics in religious and secular subjects, they desired to provide an education for any student willing to receive it. The Sisters also operated a separate school for boys from time to time. In the 1880s an average of sixty-four male students attended the school annually.

list of students 1905
This list of students in 1905 shows the variety of their origins

By opening the Academy to students of any sex, denomination, and financial situation the Sisters certainly added to their enrollment numbers and thus increased their revenue, but they also increased the educational opportunities for all children of Las Cruces, as well as children from other states and even other countries, such as Mexico.

Information based on the thesis The Sisters of Loretto in Las Cruces: The Education and "Americanization" of a Frontier Community, 1870-1943 by Wendy C. Simpson.