Jewish history in New Mexico stretches from the 16th century with the arrival of the Spanish into the New Spain Viceroyalty to the immigration of the pioneer Jews from Central Europe beginning in the mid-19th century. Those curious about New Mexico Jewish history, research scholars and others can find articles, personal papers and business records of New Mexico pioneer Jewish families in the NMJHS collection at the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives in Santa Fe. The NMJHS collection is special to the State Archives because of the large Jewish presence of merchants, artists and professionals in New Mexico. Currently, the collection covers the years 1860 to 2001. NMJHS is in the process of expanding its holdings with recently donated family records, correspondence and photographs.
In addition, with the assistance of two recent grants from the New Mexico Historic Records Advisory Board and the New Mexico Humanities Council, NMJHS is scanning, digitizing and posting new family records and documents on its website.
The NMJHS collection consists in large part of the family papers of Jewish pioneer families in New Mexico and articles pertaining to these families. Families included are the Herzsteins (Clayton), the Gusdorfs (Taos), the Kahns and Spiegelbergs (Santa Fe), the Kohns and Calischs (Tucumcari) , the Nahms, Ilfelds, Taicherts and Shipmans (Las Vegas) and the Kleins, Sparks and Sterns (Carlsbad and Las Cruces). Also included are the papers of Charles Gross (Holocaust survivor) and Solomon Bibo (Indian trader). Subject files contain materials pertaining to Congregation Montefiore in Las Vegas and artists’ papers of various contemporary New Mexico Jewish artists.
In 1988, NMHHS negotiated an arrangement to house these documents at the State Archives on long-term loan, and in 2001 gifted the entire collection to the State Archives. The Archives are presently housed in the Garrey Carruthers State Records Center and Archives building on Camino Carlos Rey in Santa Fe. NMJHS has its own finding tool available at the State Archives Library and on its web site that lists current holdings.
The State Archives is in the process of scanning documents in its collection, including the NMJHS papers, so that researchers can access the digital images from any location. A larger database already links donated family collections held at various New Mexico libraries, museums and other institutions.