Campus News - April 23, 2001

NMEH archive brings information, research to public domain

The archive of the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities’ (NMEH) is a glimpse into the 800 plus projects funded by the organization between 1972-1992. Rose Diaz and two student assistants have been processing the collection soon to be available to researchers.

“Next year is the 30th anniversary of the NMEH. They are planning events to celebrate it. Unveiling the archive and presenting an exhibit of some of the materials is part of the plan,” says Diaz, UNM General Library research historian.

Diaz says that the Humanities Council in New Mexico has an “expansive presence” and that oral histories and documentaries have contributed to national projects. “NMEH has brought the humanities to all parts of the state as seen through organizational, speaker and program files as well as specific project files,” say Diaz.

NMEH offices are on the UNM campus in Oñate Hall. Craig Newbill, who earned his BUS, master’s and PhD from UNM, serves as executive director.

“We, in the public humanities, have an obligation to bring the information, research and scholarship into the public domain,” says Newbill.

He cites a recent case where the archival materials came in handy when he was approached about funding a project on acequias.
“I went through old files knowing that NMEH had funded other acequia programs. In locating the old project files I was able to share the information with the researcher from Ghost Ranch and probably saved her weeks of research,” says Newbill.

“The files hold background information, history of the area where the project is slated, project validation, funding, correspondence, resumes of the scholars, other scholars working in the area of research as well as the grant applications, publicity and an evaluation of the individual project,” says Diaz, noting that NMEH had funded more than 800 projects during that 20 year span and their project numbers hover around 1,100 to date.

The library received a grant from the NMEH board to compile a comprehensive bibliography to include an expanded inventory with a project appendix searchable by name, theme, funding source, place or community, says Diaz.

“Tying the archive together with the library allows us to make the bibliography accessible electronically through the developing Online Archive of New Mexico,” says Diaz.

Diaz says that the U.S. Congress is looking to fund 10 regional humanities resource centers combining the resources from several state centers.

“The NMEH archive and inventory will become a model for other states and may allow us to establish collaborative partnerships regionally,” she says.

Diaz says that Sandra Martinez and Jacobo Baca, UNM students, have been working extensively to help process the collection.
“Originally there were 90 boxes of documents. We reduced the collection considerably by removing office records, salary, tax and insurance information. We’re left with the material useful to researchers,” says Diaz.

“It took two years to review, catalog and document all the materials in this collection. The unprocessed collections take up vast amounts of space here in the library annex and in other storage facilities. We need the resources and personnel to make all our collections accessible to the citizenry,” says Diaz.

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