Colonial Records of New Mexico

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Colonial Spanish Borderland Research

This article is part of a series.
Overview of Colonial Spanish Borderland Research
Catholic Sacramental Records
Civil Legal Documents
Military Records
Catholic Church Diocesan Records
Spanish Land Records for the United States
Locating Colonial Records of Genealogical Value
Colonial Records of Texas
Colonial Records of New Mexico
Colonial Records of Arizona
Colonial Records of California
Colonial Records of Florida
Colonial Records of Louisiana
Colonial Records of the French and Spanish in the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi
List of Useful Resources for Colonial Spanish Borderland Research

This article originally appeared in "Colonial Spanish Borderland Research" by George R. Ryskamp, JD, AG in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy


From its founding in 1598 until American occupation in 1846, New Mexico was a separate political entity extending from the El Paso area in present'day Texas to the area around Durango, Colorado. As such, its records were kept locally at Santa Fe, where they are currently housed in the New Mexico State Records Center, which also has an excellent collection of genealogical materials, both published and manuscript, covering the Spanish and Mexican periods.<ref>For detailed information see</ref>

The Spanish Archives of New Mexico, 1621'1821, presently held at the Archives Division of New Mexico State Records Center, deals with the administration of the region from the period of Spanish Colonial sovereignty to the establishment of the Mexican government in 1821. Excluded from these archives are official land grant documents and land conveyances in special collections.

The Spanish archives, microfilmed in twenty-two rolls, are calendared chronologically, identified briefly, and can be located by frame number. They include the following:

  • Communications and decrees received from the viceroy and commandant-general.
  • Copies of communications to the viceroy and com-mandant-general.
  • Reports from local officials and instructions sent to them.
  • Censuses.
  • Appointments, governors' edicts, minutes, and petitions of the cabildo of Santa Fe.
  • Military records, including lists of troops, muster rolls, orders, journals of operations, reports of inspections, and service records.
  • Judicial records containing litigation proceedings in civil and criminal cases, judgments of the governor and captain general, auxiliary documents (affidavits, petitions, depositions, testimonies, writs, declarations, etc.), and probate records.

The New Mexico State Records Center has forty-two rolls of New Mexican archives microfilm consisting of documents relating to the Mexican government from 1821 to 1846. The Mexican archives have been organized into several record groups according to agency of function, and then subdivided into the following subject matters with documents in each section arranged chronologically: instructions, investigations, journals, judicial proceedings, orders, petitions, reports, and residencias (residences of various officials). There are also similar original records relating to New Mexico at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley and the Huntington Library in California; these records have been microfilmed and are available at the New Mexico State Record Center. The Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico and its journal, Herencia, are key points of departure for research in this state.<ref>For more information go to</ref>

Unfortunately, the majority of local jurisdiction records of the Territory of New Mexico for the pre-American period have disappeared. Portions of the journal of proceedings of the Ayuntamiento of Santa Fe, 1829'36, are in the Zimmerman Library of the University of New Mexico with a typescript in the Bancroft Library. These records are also available on microfilm at the New Mexico State Records Center.

Census Records of New Mexico The following chart gives the location and availability of census records for New Mexico.

Year(s) Reference*
General 1642 MBL 2:21
General 1693 AF 182 #1394
General 1693 AF 181 #1390
General 1705 AF 189 #1447
General 1749'1750 AF 240 #1772; SMC
General 1749'1750 AGN PI 36:10; 501'507
General 1769 AF 254 #1867
General 1777 AF 31 #646
General 1790 SNM, Reel 12; SMC; 581,470
General 1803 AF 266 #1951
General 1823 SMC; MNM, Reel General 1845SMC; MNM; Reel 40
Abiquiu 1790 MBL; SMC
Albuquerque 1802 SMC
Ballecito 1830 ASF; SMC
Cañones 1830 ASF; SMC
Isleta (Corpus Christi de la) 1684 AF 173 #1335
Isleta (Corpus Christi de la) 1815 1,162,467
Jemez 1830 ASF; SMC
Laguna (Sr. S. José) 1801 913,167 item 7
Las Huertas and Bernalitto 1803'1807 ANM 21; 576'583
Pecuries (S. Lorenzo de los) 1707 AF 206 #1556
Pueblo Real 1815 1,162,467
S. José (presidio)** 1684 AF 173 #1336
S. Juan de los Caballeros 1707 AF 206 #1556
San Antonio del Sobina 1827 SMC; MNM, Vol. 80
San Juan 1816 SMC; ASF
San Juan 1816'1817 SMC. ASF
Sandia 1818 SMC; ASF
Santa Clara 1785'1798 SMC
Santa Clara 1818 SMC; ASF
Santa Cruz 1707 AF 206 #1556
Santa Cruz de la Cañada 1822 SMC; ASF
Santa Cruz de la Cañada 1823 SMC; ASF
Santa Fé (presidio)** 1705 AF 189 #1447
Santa Fé (presidio)** 1705 AGN PI 36:6:420'425
Santa Fé (presidio)** 1705 AGN PI 36:7:426'461
Santa Fé (presidio)** 1790 SMC; SNM 21:508'520
Santa Fé (presidio)** 1826 SMC; SNM 6:527'533
Senecu 1815 1,162,467
Socorro 1815 1,162,467

*AF: Archivo Franciscano, Biblioteca Nacional, Mexico City.

AGN PI: Collections found at the Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico City for the section Provincias Internas.

ASF: Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

MBL: Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley.

MNM: Mexican Archives of New Mexico.

SNM: Spanish Colonial Archives of New Mexico (on microfilm).

The following are identified only in published form:

SMC: Two books by Virginia Langham Olmsted: New Mexico Spanish and Mexican Colonial Censuses, 1790, 1823, 1845; and Spanish and Mexican Censuses of New Mexico, 1750 to 1830.

Six- or seven-digit numbers with no other reference are film numbers from the collection of the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City, available through the local Family History Centers.

**Troop Lists

Catholic Church Records of New Mexico

In 1598, Juan de Oñate, accompanied by ten Franciscan missionaries, established missions at a number of Indian pueblos, following the missions with the construction of churches and schools. Although the Franciscan missions in New Mexico began to decline by the second half of the eighteenth century, the amount of historical material generated during this period is significant.

Only a portion of the ecclesiastical records of the Spanish and Mexican periods have survived; these are currently located in the archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Since there is only limited access to these original records by accredited scholars, the State Records Center, the Henry E. Huntington Library, the Genealogical Society of Utah, and the Archdiocesan Archives have microfilm editions. In addition, a number of these have been extracted and are being indexed and published. Following is a chart of available records, arranged according to mission and church.

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