NHCC receives $500,000 to help digitize its archive

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Feb. 20—The National Hispanic Cultural Center's History and Literary Arts program was awarded $500,000 through a national program.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. secured the funding to help build a digital archive designed to help generations of New Mexicans better connect with their heritage.

According to the NHCC, 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. The 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," Heinrich said in a statement. "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."

The NHCC website has inventories of 10 archival collections available as PDF downloads and five preliminary genealogical resource links. The 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.

"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."

Merriam said the award will also help 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.

It will also allow the NHCC 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.

The project will be implemented in phases.