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National History Day Resources at the New Mexico State Library: What You Can Find at the State Library

Background Resources

Start learning about a subject area of interest through secondary sources such as non-fiction books, biographies, reference books, encyclopedias, and magazine and journal articles. Use the New Mexico State Library catalog to locate items about your subject. Try a variety of search terms to locate what you need.

We also have a growing collection of e-books on a wide variety of topics in New Mexico and Southwest history. You can find them in our catalog, but you will need to create an account with NM READS to check them out!

TIP: If youare looking for primary resources, consider adding words like autobiography, diary, letters, "personal narrative", correspondence, or interview to your search terms.

Books and Journals About Southwest History

The Southwest collection is a rich and extensive resource for information on New Mexico state history, geography, culture, ethnology, government, natural history, and economics.  The Southwest collection is complemented by the State and Federal Documents collections of the New Mexico State Library and the New Mexico State Archives. Frequent research topics in the Southwest collection include: the history of New Mexico places and families, railroad history, mines and mining, New Mexican writers, land grants, Santa Fe neighborhoods and buildings, Indian pueblos and reservations, farming and ranching, and Western trails.

Access to Online Databases from Home

Visit El Portal to explore the wide selection of digital resources available to all New Mexicans where ever they have an internet connection. A few highlights that may help in your National History Day project research include:

Click HERE to see all the resources available in El Portal

View this short video for an introduction in using the El Portal resources.

Having trouble accessing the resources or finding what you need. Send us an email at Ask A Librarian


The State Library has a large collection of Federal topographic maps issued by the US Geological Survey. Additionally, we have many historic maps. All of our maps must be used in the library, but you can take photographs. Please ask a librarian to see if we have a paper copy of the map you are interested in seeing and we will make arrangements for you to view the map when you visit.

A lot of historic maps have been digitized. For digitized maps, we recommend:

The University of New Mexico's UNM Digital Collections

David Rumsey Map Collection There are now over 88,000 items online, with new additions added regularly. The site is free and open to the public.

Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection The University of Texas Austin has digitized many historical maps from their general collection of more than 250,000 maps covering all areas of the world.

Old Maps Online is an easy to use index to over 400,000 maps provided by paticiapating institutions including: USGS Historical Topographic Maps, The David Rumsey Map Collection,  New York Public Library Map Division, and the Harvard Library Map Collection.

USGS topoView The maps shown through topoView are from the USGS’s Historical Topographic Map Collection (HTMC).

Library of Congress Digital Map Collection The Geography and Map Division (G & M) has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5.5 million maps, 80,000 atlases, 6,000 reference works, over 500 globes and globe gores, 3,000 raised relief models, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats, including over 19,000 CDs/DVDs. The online Map Collections represents only a small fraction that have been converted to digital form.


Federal and NM State Government Documents

Government agencies, whether federal or local, should provide the public with as much information as legally possible. Not only should they inform us about what happens within the agencies but about what they are doing for the public they serve. Sometimes the information they provide us can come in surprising forms like comic books, posters, coloring books, and even recipe books.

Of course, agencies also publish agency reports, financial statements, legislative journals, newsletters, and much more on topics that include agriculture, water rights, palaeontological findings, prisons and other institutions, immigration, elections, and the list goes on.

The New Mexico State Library has an extensive collection of current and historical documents published by many U.S. Federal agencies, and all New Mexico State agencies. Many of New Mexico's early government documents were published in both Spanish and English (some modern state documents can also be found in multiple languages).

Historic Newspapers

The NM State Library has thousands of rolls of microfilm of New Mexico newspapers dating from the territorial period of the 1850’s to the present.  Microfilm readers and printers are available and staff can help you locate the newspapers that might be helpful for your research and use the microfilm readers.

We also have a digital collection of historic newspapers that you can search using keywords, dates, and locations. You have to be at the State Library to access this collection. It is similar to The Library of Congress' online newspaper database, Chronicling America, but the collections are not identical so it is a good idea to search them both.