Navigating Institutional Archives

Navigating Institutional Archives

In addition to the treasure trove of Manito cultural artifacts in our homes and in the care of our local institutions – schools, libraries, civic clubs, churches, local museums and historical societies; a significant amount of Manito heritage and history is hidden in plain sight, housed in large institutional archives and collections.

Many Manitos historical assets, from official records to photographs to religious artifacts; have found their way into disparate collections. Some are as close as the New Mexico State Archives and the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library at the Palace of the Governors and some as far away as the Smithsonian Museum, The Archivo General de Indias in Seville, Spain and at The Vatican.

Often, this diaspora of knowledge traces the impact of historical events and power relations on our communities. Early Spanish records made their way back to Spain, baptismal records were locked away in church archives.

In earlier times, scholars and adventurers, thought nothing of extracting artifacts and knowledge out of our communities and funneling them back to sponsoring institutions. While we certainly do not want to perpetuate these extractive practices, sometimes they preserved some part of our heritage that might have otherwise been permanently lost.

However those resources arrived at their current locations, we are fortunate that these days, the people working in those institutions, including archivists, librarians, preservationists and curators, are for the most part enthusiastic in problem-solving community access solutions to their collections.

This institutional legacy is a complex thing, but we hope to develop tools and relationships that facilitate this access.

To that end, we have created a Finding Aid that covers most of the major institutions in our region, as well as some major institutions outside the area, known to house important Manitos collections. The guide also includes tips on how to construct your online searches.

Keep in mind, that most institutions, even ones that have a robust online collection of digitized documents, probably have not digitized most of their collection. This Finding Aid is, for the most part, intended to help you develop an overview of what might be available on your chosen subject, out there in the realm of institutional archives.

This overview can help you determine if it might be worth scheduling a road trip of visits to institutional archives, investing in some document duplication orders or making some Interlibrary Loan Requests.

When developing this Finding Aid, several proof of concept documents were created for a selection of Manitos communities. These documents are included here as examples.

Included are links to the websites for most of these institutions. Feel confident that questions and requests for clarification are almost always greeted with a genuine desire to help you find, whatever it is you are looking for.

Happy Hunting!