If your roots go back to the Spanish and Mexican era, you can find colonial censuses from 1750 to 1830 at the state archives, and in a collection published by the New Mexico Genealogical Society. The archives also has Spanish land records from 1693 to 1821 and Mexican records from 1821 to 1845. Catholic church records from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, now at the archives, also extend to this time; the Family History Library (FHL) has microfilmed these back to 1726.
Ancestors during the territorial period may be in territorial censuses, taken along with the regular federal enumeration beginning in 1850. Note that the 1860 head count covered only the area south of the Gila River. Also check the 1885 state census (actually federally administered), which listed all household members; it’s available on microfilm through the FHL.
New Mexico was the last state to adopt statewide vital records and health statistics — not until 1920, when prompted by war and the flu epidemic. Access to records is restricted to immediate family. For pre-1920 vital records, look at the county level; church records may substitute.
The state archives contain a wide variety of helpful records, such as land grants, early probates, and pre-1912 court papers. Military records here include the Spanish and Mexican era, the Indian Wars, and the Civil War (including Confederate data). See the archives’ online guide for genealogists at http://www.nmcpr.state.nm.us/archives/ancestors.htm.
According to Karen Stein Daniel, CG, editor of the New Mexico Genealogist, another key repository is Albuquerque’s Special Collections Library, a branch of the Rio Grande Valley Library System. This library holds the Spanish Archives of New Mexico I and II, the Mexican Archives of New Mexico, land grant records, and portions of the territorial records, all on microfilm. You’ll also find a large collection of family genealogies, territorial newspapers, city directories, vital records and indexes, obituary indexes, and materials from the Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
New Mexico’s long history represents both a challenge and an opportunity for researchers, spanning Native American, Spanish, Mexican, territorial, and statehood periods. Daniel says the most valuable tip for beginning researchers is to read about the history of the area. Records are typically divided and catalogued according to the period in which they fall, meaning you must know the history to know where to look.
Finally, Daniel advises, if at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up — look somewhere else. You may have to scour several locations for the records you need. For example, some county records are now housed in the archives in Santa Fe. The best chance of success, says Daniel, comes from doing your homework, preparing a research plan, and establishing the location of records you seek prior to setting out.
- Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for the Territory of New Mexico, 1862-1874 from the US Bureau of Internal Revenue (National Archives, 1988)
- Latin American Census Records, 2nd edition, by Lyman D. Platt (Instituto Genealogico e Historico Latinoamericano, 1992)
- Spanish and Mexican Censuses of New Mexico: 1750-1830 by Virginia L. Olmsted (New Mexico Genealogical Society, 1981)
- Spanish and Mexican Colonial Censuses of New Mexico: 1790, 1823, 1845 by Virginia L. Olmsted (New Mexico Genealogical Society, 1975)
- Cemetery Records from Southern New Mexico by Lee Myers (Lee Myers, 1982)
- Certificates and Records of Death, 1889-1942 from the New Mexico Department of Health (filmed by the Genealogical Society Of Utah, 1996)
- Delayed Certificates of Birth from the New Mexico Department of Health (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1995)
- Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in New Mexico (Historical Records Survey, 1942)
- New Mexico Roots LTD: A Demographic Perspective from Genealogical, Historical, and Geographical Data Found in the Diligencia Matrimoniales or Pre-nuptial Investigations (1678-1869) of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe by Angelico Chavez (Angelico Chavez, 1982)
- Some Marriages of the State of New Mexico, ca. 1880-1920, 2 vols. (New Mexico Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, 1971-73)
- A Guide to the Microfilm of Papers Relating to New Mexico Land Grants by Albert James Diaz (University of New Mexico Press, 1960)
- Miscellaneous Archives Relating to New Mexico Land Grants, 1695-1842 (University of New Mexico Library, 1955-1957)
- Press Copies of Grant Papers from the Surveyor General’s office of the New Mexico Territory (University of New Mexico Library, 1955-57)
- The Public Domain in New Mexico, 1854-1891 by Victor Westphall (University of New Mexico, 1965)
- Records of Land Titles, 1847-1852 from the secretary’s office of the New Mexico Territory (University of New Mexico Library, 1955-1957)
- Record of Private Land Claims Adjudicated By the U.S. Surveyor General, 1855-1890 from the Surveyor General’s office of the New Mexico Territory (University of New Mexico Library, 1955-1957)
- Researching New Mexico Land Grants from the New Mexico Commission of Public Records (State Records Center and Archives, 2002)
- Spanish & Mexican Land Grants in New Mexico and Colorado by John R. Van Ness and Christine M. Van Ness (AG Press, ca. 1980)
- Vigil’s Index, 1681-1846 by Donaciano Vigil (University of New Mexico Library, 1955-1957)
- Inventory of Federal Archives in the States, Series 02, Federal Courts, No. 30, New Mexico from the Historical Records Survey (Historical Records Survey, 1941)
- List of New Mexico County Courthouses from the New Mexico Commission of Public Records, State Records Center and Archives (State Records Center and Archives, 2002)
- The Juan Paez Hurtado Expedition of 1865: Fraud in Recruiting colonists for New Mexico by John B. Colligan (University of New Mexico Press, 1995)
- Let There be Towns: Spanish Municipal Origins in the American Southwest, 1610-1810 by Gilberto Rafael Cruz (Texas A&M University Press, 1988)
- Mexican Immigrant: His Life-Story by Manuel Gamio (Arno Press and the New York Times, 1969)
- Mexican Immigration to the United States: A Study of Human Migration and Adjustment by Manuel Gamio (Arno Press and the New York Times, 1969)
- Over 1,400 Naturalization Records for Various Courts of New Mexico: 1882-1917, Denver Federal Archives (Foothills Genealogical Society of Colorado, 1998)
- The History of the Military Occupation of the Territory of New Mexico from 1846 to 1851 by Ralph E. Twitchell (W.C. Cox, 1974)
- Inventory of Federal Archives in the States, Series 04, Department of the Navy, No. 30, New Mexico from the Historical Records Survey (Historical Records Survey, 1940)
- It Tolled for New Mexico: New Mexicans Captured by the Japanese, 1941-1945 by Eva Jane Matson (Yucca Tree Press, 1994)
- New Mexico’s Buffalo Soldiers, 1866-1900 by Monroe Lee Billington (University Press of Colorado, 1991)
- Soldiers of the Great War, 3 vols. by W.M. Haulsee, F.C. Hoe, and A.C. Doyle (Soldiers Records Publishing Association, 1920)
- Soldiers and Settlers: Military Supply in the Southwest, 1861-1885 by Darlis A. Miller (University of New Mexico Press, 1989)
- The County Boundaries of New Mexico by Charles F. Coan (1922; Legislative Council Service, 1965)
- Historical Atlas of New Mexico by Warren A. Beck and Ynez D. Haase (University of Oklahoma Press, 1969)
- New Mexico in Maps edited by Jerry L. Williams (University of New Mexico Press, 1986)
- New Mexico Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary by T.M. Pearce (University of New Mexico Press, 1985)
- The Place Names of New Mexico, 2nd edition, by Robert Hixson Julyan (University of New Mexico Press, 1998)
- Post Offices of New Mexico by Richard W. Helbock (R.W. Helbock, 1981)
- The Territorial Post Offices of New Mexico by Sheldon H. Dike (New Mexico Historical Review, October 1958)