24    Aug 20106 comments

New Mexico: Digitizing historic newspapers

Where can you read about your ancestors' births, marriages and deaths?

If you are lucky, these lifecycle events will be documented in the newspapers where your family lived. The pages also allow us to glimpse how people lived, what they bought, what they ate, their social activities and more through advertisements and local event coverage.

If your family lived in New Mexico, you may find information dating back to 1860, as the University of New Mexico Libraries has just received a major grant to digitize the state's old newspapers (1860-1922).

The $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities will preserve some 100,000 newspaper pages, some of which are 150 years old, reported the UNM Daily Lobo.

Michael Kelly is the director of the Center of Southwest Research.

“Since UNM Libraries hold the largest col­lec­tion of New Mex­ico news­pa­pers on micro­film, we want to take the ini­tia­tive and make these and other unique resources freely avail­able to every­one in New Mexico,” Kelly said.

The digitized publications will also be accessible via the Library of Congress' online "Chronicling America" database, as well as a New Mexico online database.

For researchers attempting to track early settlers to New Mexico, or historical events, online access will make the process much easier.

“Before, you had to go get the box of materials, go through the box folder by folder, scan what you wanted,” Kelly said.

“Before, scholarship was much more linear. Now there is so much more (online), and you have a chance to compare and contrast.”

According to the story, UNM has been collecting and microfilming state newspapers for years and Kelly estimates there are now 500 microfilm reels each with about 1,000 pages.

The database will also include music, videos, photographs and posters, and make it easier for researchers to use the material for their own projects. Parameters will include searching for a person, place or event.

Unfortunately, Spanish-language papers cannot yet be digitized because of computer software constraints, but Kelly hopes the problems will be fixed by the time the center reapplies for the grant in 2012.

Are your families from New Mexico? What research have you done? Have you accessed the UNM microfilmed newspapers?

Search for your ancestors:

Comments (6) Trackbacks (1)
  1. I have had no luck getting a record of a marriage 100+ years ago in New Mexico. The Family History Library says the films are restricted, though I am not sure why. On a business trip, I drove to the rural courthouse, only to find it gutted and under renovation. Newspapers are all I have so far. I will check out this collection and keep updated on it. Thank you for sharing this information.
  2. This is interesting. I will check up on this at the NM State Library in Santa Fe in the coming weeks.

    Peace,
    "Guided by the Ancestors"
  3. I am searching for a James Marshall born January 26, 1928 died March 16, 1993. I believe it is in Arlington New Mexico is where he has died. My oldest niece is related to him. His ssn is 498-34-9734 incase you might need it to help out on the search.
  4. Hi, Kimberly

    We do not do private research, so I'm afraid I cannot assist you privately. However, one very helpful start for you is the MyHeritage.com search engine which will check some 1,500 genealogy databases for you, if you enter the name James Marshall. Other resources are free databases available in US public libraries. The Social Security Death Index is a start, as are the Federal Census records. Please let me know what you have already searched so I can point you in the right direction.
    Best wishes
    Schelly
  5. Hi Kimberly,
    I have a paid membership to ancestry.com. I looked through the social security death records and found the person with that social security number. The name is James M. Smith, he was born January 26, 1928, and passed away March 16, 1993. His last residence was Farmington, San Juan County, New Mexico. Looks like he got his social security number from the state of Missouri before 1951. Merry Christmas. you can email me at johnpozega at gmail.com if you need more info
  6. Newspapers can provide a significant amount of genealogical information. You can find so much more than birth announcements, marriage announcements and obituaries. See what can be found in newspapers at Newspapers and Genealogy .

    Regards, Jim

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