History of the Loretto Academy

The Sisters of Loretto Arrive in New Mexico

Despite a journey with many hardships, the Sisters arrived in Santa Fe in 1852 and established a school there. By the 1860s enrollments were dropping due to disturbances related to the Civil War and epidemics of smallpox. In order to increase both influence and revenues, the Sisters began to respond to requests by local clergy for schools in other New Mexico communities.

Las Cruces, circa 1880
Las Cruces, New Mexico, circa 1880

It was thus that the Sisters of Loretto arrived in Las Cruces in 1870. At that time, Las Cruces was a small agricultural community of around 1,300 people, 94 percent of whom were native born. The majority of the population, according to census data, were school-aged girls who could neither read nor write, making Las Cruces an ideal environment for a school for young women.

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.