Research in New Mexico

According to archeologists, the early history of New Mexico dates to settlements made as far back as 25,000 years ago. When Spain first explored the territory in 1540, many Native American tribes lived within its borders. The first Hispanic settlement was established in 1598. Spanish and later Mexican rule in New Mexico lasted until 1846 when the United States declared war on Mexico. In 1850 New Mexico became a US Territory. Statehood was granted in 1912.

Since the sixteenth century, many non-indigenous people have settled in New Mexico. Prior to the Civil War, the dominant group of new settlers were Hispanic including Crypto-Jews. By the late 1860s, Black Americans settlers and Buffalo Soldiers began to arrive along with French, German, Greek, Italian, and Jewish immigrants; Los Árabes from the Middle East; and South African Boers. The state also is home to three Apache tribes, the Navaho Nation, and nineteen Pueblo tribes. Research in New Mexico author Karen Stein Daniel, CG, offers readers a detailed guide of where and how to find records of these people.

Family history researchers will find detailed information about the state’s many genealogical resources, including:

  • Archives, libraries, and societies, including out-of-state repositories
  • Atlases, gazetteers, and maps
  • Business, cemetery, census, county, and court records
  • Livestock brands and marks, land, water, and mining records
  • Military records from the Mexican War to the Vietnam War
  • Naturalization and immigration, probate, tax, and vital records
  • Records of ethnic and tribal groups as well as women

Daniels provides an excellent overview of what researchers can find at each repository along with its website address, physical address, and telephone number. For instance, she describes the extensive holdings at the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Main Library’s second floor genealogy center. At the center, researchers will discover major collections not only for New Mexico, but also for the Southwestern United States, Texas, New England, and Hispanic and Native American research. The center also has a large microform collection that includes the Spanish Archives of New Mexico I and II, Mexican Archives of New Mexico, land grant records, portions of the Territorial Archives of New Mexico, Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and newspapers.

Published by NGS, Research in New Mexico is one volume in the Research in the States series edited by Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FUGA, FVGS. It is available for purchase in the NGS online store in both PDF and print versions.


Karen Daniel, CG, is the author or co-author of nineteen books on genealogy and family history including six compiled genealogies, and was co-author of the “New Mexico” chapter in the third edition of Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, published by Ancestry. From 2000–2006, Karen served as editor of the New Mexico Genealogical Society’s New Mexico Genealogist. She is the recipient of NGS’s Award of Merit (1994) and the Historical Society of New Mexico’s Lansing B. Bloom Award on behalf of the New Mexico Genealogical Society (2005).