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History Lecture: The Abernathy Boys Adventure through New Mexico

In 1909, two boys in Oklahoma, Temple and Louis Abernathy, five and nine years of age, planned a trip to New Mexico, this journey and the subsequent journeys would help to foment Theodore Roosevelt’s idea of manhood because their media sensationalism would help cement Roosevelt’s image of the “rugged individual.” Join us as we follow the path of these enterprising children and their reception by communities in the American West.

Jeanna Rodriguez-Lawson will present the October 2014 History Note lecture at Branigan Cultural Center on Thursday, October 9 at 1pm. Her lecture is titled The Abernathy Boys Adventure through New Mexico. This program is free and open to the public.

Masculinity in the American West during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries can be represented by the mythical “rugged individual.” Although the rugged individual did exist in some fashion, many scholars agree that he was not the sole figure of masculinity in the American West. Recently, the study of gender has broadened to include masculinity. A historiography of the masculinity of the American West in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries shows that the constant evolution of masculinity coincides at times with modern conceptions of manhood, and the ideological origins of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt portrayed the image of the “rugged individual” and pushed it as a national masculine identity. The creation of the Boy Scouts and boy adventure stories such as the boy aviators were very popular during this time period Roosevelt especially wanted the youth of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century to grow up to be the ideal he had of manhood.

Ms. Rodriguez-Lawson holds an MA in Public History from NMSU and currently teaches high school history at Chapin High School in El Paso. She has worked as an education intern and volunteer at Branigan Cultural Center and Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum and has given numerous talks on the Abernathy boys and other historical figures.

History Notes, monthly lectures on historical topics, takes place on the second Thursday of each month at 1 pm. Please check our webpage or Facebook for a full listing of these and other Branigan Cultural Center public programs.

The Branigan Cultural Center is located at 501 North Main Street. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9am to 4:30pm. For more information, contact the Branigan Cultural Center at (575) 541-2154 or visit the Center’s website at

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