27    May 20090 comments

New Mexico: History, genealogy resources

In the US, more than 35 million people identified as Hispanic or Latino in the 2000 census. The census form provided for people to identify as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban or "other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino."

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Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated in the US from mid-September through mid-October. Many organizations, archives and libraries organize special lecture series, classes, exhibitions and spotlight their holdings.

President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 and President Ronald Reagen expanded it to a month. The time frame was set to include the independence and independence days of several countries: Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.

Among the US-based organizations highlighting Hispanic heritage are Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the National Archives with the National Park Service.

There are many resources available for those researching their Hispanic heritage, both in the US and other countries.

Many Hispanics settled in New Mexico. The New Mexico History Museum held its grand opening in Santa Fe earlier this month.Put tooltip here

The museum highlights the history of the state, including Native Americans, Hispanics and European immigrants and all of their contributions.

The exhibits trace the the history from pre-Colonial Era to the present. There's even a re-creation of a wall of petroglyph-type handprints; touch some and the words of Navajo, Apache and Pueblo Indians talk about their worlds.There are interactive displays, bilingual exhibits, a hand's-on room for kids where they can handle artifacts and watch films and more, .

Among its holdings are the digitized collections of the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, which is the successor of the state's oldest library (established 1851), and part of the Palace of the Governors. A non-circulating, closed stack research facility, the library preserves historical materials in many formats documenting the history of the state, the Southwest and meso-America from pre-European contact to the present. Search its catalog here.

Put tooltip hereThere is an obituary database here. Started by staff and volunteers of the Historical Society of New Mexico as early as the late 19th-early 20th century, serious efforts to maintain and add to it were begun in the 1930s. The database goes through the end of 2005.

Up to the 1940s, entries include areas beyond the state's main cities and include several New Mexico newspapers. Since the '50s-'60s, the primary focus is Santa Fe based on the Santa Fe New Mexican. The obituary database is not complete. Researchers looking for a person not listed should investigate other resources, such as newspaper sites NewspaperARCHIVE, Genealogy Bank and Footnote.

The Palace of the Governors Photo Archives has some 800,000 items including historic photographic prints, glass and film negatives, and other formats, including lantern slides. There is regional and national content from about 1850 to today. Included is the history and people of the state, expansion of the West, and also covers anthropology, archaeology and ethnology of Hispanic and Native American cultures. Smaller collections document Europe, Latin America, the Far East, Oceana, and the Middle East. Many important 19th and 20th century Western photographers are represented.

The 96,000-square-foot three-story (with a mezzanine) museum, which cost $44 million, brings to life the stories of how so many immigrants came to New Mexico over the centuries. On the first opening weekend, some 7,000 visitors had toured the exhibits. The new building incorporated two existing buildings and adjoins the 399-year-old adobe Palace of the Governors (built in 1610). Architects and builder took special precautions to prevent damage to the old building. The museum contains exhibition space, a 210-seat theater, and an 8,400-square-foot storage vault.

Have you researched your Hispanic heritage? What countries did they come from? Where did they immigrate? What resources have you used in your quest? I look forward to reading your comments.


The National Park Service's publication Cultural Resources Management (CRM Journal) has interesting articles on Hispanic resources, such as:

Hispanic History in the National Register of Historic Places: Discover Our Shared Heritage is a travel series on Hispanic cultural resources in South and West Texas, the American Southwest,and the Florida, Georgia and California coasts.Ten states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas) and Puerto Rico have nominated Hispanic-related properties to the NationalRegister, most of which are located in the Southwest.

For an excellent compilation of Hispanic history and culture articles, click here. "Teaching with Historic Places" offers lesson plans for educators on some of the National Register's 80,000 places, such as "Californio to American: A Study in Cultural Change," "The Hispano Ranchos of Northern New Mexico: Continuity and Change," "Forts of Old San Juan: Guardians of the Caribbean" and more.

The Library of Congress has collections documenting architecture, engineering and design in the US, including sites for Hispanic history and culture. Searchable collections include The Historic American Buildings Survey, the Historic American Engineering Record and Historic American Landscapes Survey. Records include drawings, photographs and historical data.

The Spanish Colonial Research Center (Albuquerque, New Mexico) was established by the National Park Service with the University of New Mexico to store a Spanish colonial documents database. It contains 85,000 pages of microfilmed documents and some 4,500 maps, architectural plans and sketches from Spanish and Mexican archives. The Center cooperates with research institutions in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. Included are the collections' computerized indices, transcriptions and translations and publishes the quarterly Colonial Latin American Historical Review.

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