Cover of the 1941 Spring Issue of El Palenque

The digital collections recently published El Palenque, a collection of literary journals published regularly by the Associated Student Body between 1927 and 1948.

Many students submitted items to The Aztec (San Diego State College’s student newspaper) but lack of space made it difficult for stories to be published.  El Palenque was created as a forum for the creative overflow of San Diego State College students.  The Mayan civilization of El Palenque served as the inspiration for the title and scope of the magazine—it was referenced as the Athens of the ancient Mayans.  Submissions were also accepted from faculty and alumni.  Interestingly, President Hardy submitted articles in two issues, in Volume 3, Issue 4 and Volume 4, Issue 2.   After a three-year break in publishing due to WWII, the Spring 1945 issue included submissions from former students serving the military in the South Pacific.

The editors sought to create a magazine representative of the student body and El Palenque was often a source of discussion and controversy.  Comments were solicited in each issue and opinions about the magazine were published in The Aztec.  Because El Palenque was financed by the Associated Students with funds collected by way of student fees, some students disliked that their money was supporting a publication they had to pay for and others did not think it was an accurate representation of the student body.  The biggest controversy surrounding the magazine occurred after the Spring 1941 issue was printed with a cover photo depicting “Monty,” the school’s iconic Aztec sculpture created by Donal Hord, with a cigarette hanging from his lips.  The Aztec (see Volume 20, Number 62) chronicles student outrage, including a call for Editor Edward Reese to be fired and for all remaining issues to be purchased and burned.

After a steady decline in sales and much polling of the student body, El Palenque was laid to rest in 1948.  Please note that this collection lacks the final issue, published in March 1948.

Photos of the El Palenque staff can be found in corresponding SDSU year books and The Aztec can be consulted for articles discussing the activities of the magazine.  The entire collection can be viewed at or on SDSU's DSpace Institutional Repository website.  

This blog post was written by Digital Collections intern and San Jose State MLIS candidate, Danielle Owens, as part of a professional experience project for the Fall 2012 semester.  Danielle digitized this collection and created the metadata for the entire project.

  • El Palenque staff photos
  • The Aztec newspaper article about El Palenque