Adrián Recinos was born July 1886 in Antigua, Guatemala to a notable family of Huehuetenango. He graduated from the Instituto Nacional Central de Varones in 1902 and subsequently earned a law degree from the Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Sociales at the Universidad de Guatemala in 1907. Recinos entered politics the following year as secretario de la Legación de Guatemala to El Salvador. From 1910 to 1920 he rose to the rank of Subsecretario del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. It appears that as a prominent leader of Estrada Cabrera’s political party, Recinos was elected to serve in the National Legislative Assembly from 1920-1921 before returning to the ministry of foreign relations under the presidency of José María Orellana (Estrada Cabrera’s successor). A stint as Ministro Plenipotenciario to France, Spain, and Italy followed from 1923-1925. Upon Orellana’s death, Recinos returned briefly to the National Legislative Assembly during the first year of Lázaro Chacón’s presidency.
Recinos’ career, however, changed considerably in 1928 when he arrived in Washington, D.C., again as Ministro Plenipotenciario, though completing his tenure with an ambassadorship from 1942-1944. After a series of coups that unseated President Jorge Ubico, Recinos returned to Guatemala to seek the presidency, but he lost the election to Juan José Arévalo and remained abroad for the rest of the decade. Recinos represented Guatemala in the United Nations from 1954 to 1959 before becoming Guatemala’s ambassador to Spain, serving there through 1961. He died March 1962 in Guatemala. His obituary in the New York Times regards him as one of the early proponents of the Organization of American States. Recinos was also active in a number of socio-political organizations including The American Society of International Law in Washington, D.C.
Recinos’ professional career is punctuated with socio-cultural endeavors. When Recinos started his diplomatic journey in the 1910s, he aligned himself, at least in part, with modernist thinkers also present in the capital. The earliest evidence of these relationships is with Virgilio Rodríguez Bateta, then director of Diario de Centro América. In or around 1917, and while serving as undersecretary of foreign affairs, Recinos and Rodríguez Bateta jointly came up with the idea of a society dedicated to the preservation of Guatemalan history. They found some support in President Estrada Cabrera’s administration and the Sociedad de Geografía e Historia de Guatemala formed in 1923. The Society declared its purpose as furthering the historical and geographical studies of the nation and to achieve their diffusion and popularization by whatever means possible. By the time Recinos published his edition of Popol Vuh in 1947, the Society had just released its eighteenth volume and counted among its titles the works of Antonio de Remesal, Francisco Antonio Fuentes y Guzmán, Juan Villagutierre Sotomayor, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Pedro de Alvarado, Francisco Vázquez, and the anonymous Isagoge histórico-apologética de las Indias. However, the Society did notpublish Recinos’ edition of Popol Vuh (it was actually published in Mexico by Fondo de Cultura Económica). Recinos served as president of the Sociedad de Geografía e Historia in the 1950s.
Adrián Recinos’ published or translated a number of ethnologic works. He was a close friend of Sylvanus G. Morley and each translated works by the other. Recinos translated Morley’s Guidebook to the Ruins of Quiriguá (1936) as well as Morley’s 600-page The Ancient Maya(1947). Morley in turn collaborated on the English translation of Recinos’ Popol Vuh (1950). Recinos completed the remainder of Daniel Brinton’s translation of Anales de los Cakchiqueles(also known as Memorial de Sololá), Título de Totonicapán, and various other indigenous texts, most of which had previously been passed by Brasseur.