CONTACT: Dennis Daily, 575-646-4756, ddaily
Before New Mexico became the 47th state in 1912, many families in the Las Cruces area seized new opportunities in the region. History from the time and region recorded by the Armijo family is available to the public in the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Department. Descendants of the Armijo family donated materials in December 2017.
“The Armijo family papers are an important resource for students and scholars of New Mexico history,” said Dennis Daily, associate professor and University Library, Archives and Special Collections department head. “The papers offer a unique view into how native New Mexican families navigated, and in many cases prospered, during the period of transition from Mexican rule to the new cultural, political and economic systems imposed by the United States. The Armijos were able to leverage their bi-cultural and bi-national experiences to their great benefit, becoming one of the most prominent families of territorial New Mexico.”
The Armijo family materials include papers and photographs about the family who lived in Las Cruces and Albuquerque.
“The Armijo family has a long and significant history in New Mexico, and Nestor Armijo was one of the most successful businessmen in Las Cruces during its early years,” Daily said.
After attending Saint Louis University with his brother, Nicholas, in the 1840s, the pair returned to New Mexico and soon began transporting goods to Kansas City via the Santa Fe Trail.
Nestor opened mercantile stores in Las Cruces and El Paso, and extended trade activities to Chihuahua, Mexico, where he lived for years. When he returned to Las Cruces, he purchased a house at 150 E. Lohman Ave., now known as the Armijo House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and home to the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce.
“The materials donated to the NMSU Library in December 2017 by descendants of Nestor Armijo, complement other Armijo family materials in the Archives,” Daily said. “Significantly, the new donation contains early photographic portraits of Armijo family members, taken between about 1890 and 1920. Because of the family’s economic standing, the portraits represent the height of photographic portraiture of their time, and demonstrate social and cultural attributes important to Mexican American families of means during New Mexico’s territorial period.
“One of the treasures of the collection is an original letter press book compiled by Nicolas Armijo containing nearly one thousand letters he wrote between 1886 and 1892 to many prominent and influential New Mexicans and Mexicans, including first Archbishop of Santa Fe Jean Baptiste Lamy, New Mexico Governor L. Bradford Prince, Chihuahua banker, industrialist and governor Enrique Creel, and Chihuahua empresario and Governor Luis Terrazas, among others,” he said.
When the NMSU Library Archives and Special Collections receives new materials, staff members have the task of organizing and preserving the materials to prepare them for public access.
“We will arrange, describe and preserve these materials to archival standards, in order to make them available for use by researchers and the public,” Daily said. “This process will result in a detailed written guide describing the Armijo collection, which will be available for discovery online through the Rocky Mountain Online Archive website at https://rmoa.unm.edu. ”
For more information on NMSU’s Library Archives and Special Collections visit http://library.nmsu.edu/archives/specialcollections.html.