National Hispanic Cultural Center

National Hispanic Cultural Center announces $500,000 Congressional award to help build digital archive of New Mexican heritage

February 13, 2023

Stephen Hamway

Albuquerque, NM – The National Hispanic Cultural Center’s (NHCC) History and Literacy Arts program has been awarded $500,000 through Fiscal Year 2023 Congressionally Directed Spending secured by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) to build a digital archive designed to help generations of New Mexicans better connect with their heritage. 

The award will be used to digitize the 65 cubic feet and 56 linear feet of photograph, object, recording, and document archives in the NHCC’s History and Literary Arts program for upload to the NHCC website. These archives document the history of the Barelas neighborhood in Albuquerque, the history of New Mexico as a Spanish colony, and the families who played a vital role in the development of present-day Albuquerque. 

“The National Hispanic Cultural Center’s archive doesn’t just preserve documents, it affirms and honors the lives and stories of Hispanic communities across New Mexico and our nation," said Senator Heinrich. "I’m proud to have secured $500,000 to now digitize this archive, so that our children can be inspired from wherever they live to follow in the footsteps of people like Mari-Luci Jaramillo, the first Hispanic woman to become a U.S. Ambassador. Hispanic history is American history, and I will continue working to make it accessible to all.” 

“New Mexico is blessed with a long, multicultural history that includes many families who have deep roots in the community, and I believe one of the NHCC’s most important roles is acting as a steward of that history,” said Noël Bella Merriam, NHCC artistic director and co-interim executive director. “This award not only preserves these priceless documents for future generations, but also allows more people than ever to access these records and learn about their family histories. This is a transformative opportunity, and we’re grateful to Senator Heinrich’s office for making it a reality.” 

Currently, the NHCC website has inventories of ten archival collections available as PDF downloads and five preliminary genealogical resource links. Access to the full archives in the NHCC Library is currently available by appointment only. This digitization program, known as the New Mexico Genealogy Archiving Project, will make these vast genealogical archives more accessible and interconnected than ever, allowing people all over the state, nation, and world to learn about their heritage in ways that would not otherwise be possible. 

In addition to the digitization program in the NHCC archive, the award will enable the Center to develop K-12 social studies bilingual curriculum for New Mexico educators to use in their classrooms that will bring history to life across the state. The project will also allow the Center to design user-friendly and interactive videos, develop engaging online learning activities for families, and establish state-of-the-art online resources for the archival and genealogical records of the NHCC. This project will be implemented in phases, so check to stay up to date on the project and visit the digital archive once it’s online. 

More about the National Hispanic Cultural Center The National Hispanic Cultural Center is dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities. The NHCC presents mission-related events throughout the year, some produced by its history, literary, performing, and visual arts programs, and others by partnering with external organizations. Events take place at its 20-plus-acre campus, which includes a plaza, an art museum, a historically designated building, a library, and a genealogy center. The NHCC is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and is further supported by the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation. 

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