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Archives & Special Collections

2023 Border Archives Bazaar

by Dylan McDonald on 2023-08-30T12:18:00-06:00 | 0 Comments

The Border Archives Bazaar is a free, fun, and educational event that showcases unique and historic archival materials from the border region. The event will be held Saturday, September 23, 10am-4pm at New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces. Organized by the Border Regional Archives Group (BRAG), the Bazaar features rare documents, photographs, maps, publications, and more, that highlight the unique history and cultural heritage of our region. The theme of the bazaar, Re:Collections / Re:Colecciones, highlights the role archives play in preserving collections and memorializing the past.

The event brings together resources from more than a dozen libraries, archives, and museums of southern New Mexico, west Texas, and the borderlands. Participating institutions include: NMSU Library Archives and Special CollectionsEl Paso Public Library Border Heritage CenterDoña Ana County Clerk’s OfficeUTEP Centennial MuseumUTEP Library's C.L. Sonnichsen Special CollectionsChamizal National MemorialMuseo de la Gente, Sul Ross State University Archives of the Big Bend, and Eastern New Mexico University Special Collections, among others.  The Bazaar highlights the role that archives play in preserving and promoting our cultural heritage. Archivists, librarians, and museum curators will be on hand to discuss and answer questions about archives, regional history, and preservation of original documents.

The Border Archives Bazaar also includes short presentations about regional history by noted borderlands historians and scholars.   All presentations, listed below, will take place in the museum's auditorium

10:20 - 11:00 am

Dr. Yolanda Leyva, “The Border Speaks: UTEP's Institute of Oral History

UTEP's Institute of Oral History has collected and preserved oral histories documenting the people and history of the borderlands region for over 50 years. In this presentation, participants will learn about the collection and the possibilities it holds for community members, researchers, and students. In addition, we will listen to excerpts from interviews and watch short videos based on the collection.

Dr. Yolanda Chávez Leyva is a historian and writer who was born and raised on the border. She is of Rarámuri descent and honors her grandmother Canuta Ruacho. She is the Director of the Institute of Oral History and Associate Professor in the Department of History. She is also the lead historian for the first-ever Bracero Museum (funded by the Mellon Foundation) slated to open in Socorro, Texas in 2024. She has spent her life listening to and now documenting the lives of people who live on la frontera. Professor Leyva specializes in border history, public history, and Chicana history. She is co-founder of Museo Urbano, a museum of the streets that highlights border history by taking it where people are-- from museums to the actual streets of El Paso. She came to academia after a decade of social work in the Black and Brown communities of east Austin, with a desire to make academia and especially history relevant and useful to people.  She is the recipient of the National Council on Public History "Best Public History Project Award" and the American Historical Association Herbert Feis Award which recognizes "distinguished contributions to public history."  She has curated, and co-curated, many museum exhibits with her students.   

11:10 - 11:50 am

Dr. David Romo, “Locating El Paso Apache Peace Settlement (1790-1806): How Mescalero History Saved an El Paso Neighborhood from the Bulldozer”

Thanks to archival research about Native Americans in the borderlands an historic El Paso neighborhood was recently saved from demolition. Since 2006, the City of El Paso and developers planned to tear down dozens of historic buildings in an area historians called “the birthplace of El Paso” to build a sports arena. The discovery and of a forgotten eighteenth-century Mescalero peace settlement inhabited by about 800 to 1,000 Apache residents in what is now Barrio Duranguito was a major element that was used by preservationists in litigation that helped preservationists stop the City’s plan to destroy the neighborhood. In January 2023 the El Paso City Council voted to abandon its plans to build an arena in Duranguito. I will discuss how the Spanish colonial documents helped us prove in court the existence and location of the Mescalero camp in the besieged South El Paso neighborhood. It is one of the latest examples of how previously erased or neglected historical memory continues to matter in our community. 

Dr. David Dorado Romo is a historian, musician and cultural activist who specializes in borderlands studies. He is the author of the award-winning book Ringside Seat to a Revolution: A Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juárez, 1893-1923.

12:00 - 12:40 pm

Denise Chávez, “El Moviemiento Chicana/o: An Overview Now and Then – La Lucha Sigue”

Author Denise Chávez, owner of Casa Camino Real Bookstore, Director of Museo de La Gente, a Community Borderland Archival & Resource Center based in Las Cruces, NM in the historic Mesquite Neighborhood on the Camino Real revisits El Moviemiento Chicana/o and the Museo de La Gente's archival holdings.

Denise Chávez is a fronteriza writer, activist, and owner, with her husband, photographer Daniel Zolinsky, of Casa Camino Real Bookstore, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She is the author of The King and Queen of Comezón, Loving Pedro Infante, A Taco Testimony: Meditations on Family, Food and Culture, and Face of an Angel. Her awards include the New Mexico Governor’s Award, the American Book Award, the Premio Aztlán Literary Prize, and the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature. Chávez is also director and co-founder, with Kari Lenander of the Border Servant Corps, of Libros para el Viaje/Books for the Journey, which delivers books to refugee, migrant, and asylum-seeking children and families on the U.S.–Mexico border. Currently, Chávez is co-editing, with Enrique Lamadrid, We Are Here to Represent, an anthology of works by multigenerational, multilingual writers and artists. She is also creating the Museo de La Gente/Museum of the People, a living archive, library, bookstore, and community resource center in Las Cruces.

12:50 - 1:30 pm

Dr. Jonna Perrillo, “Overcoming Absence in the Archives: The Story of Writing Educating the Enemy”

This talk will explain how Dr. Perrillo used regional, national, and international archives to write Educating the Enemy, a history of the 144 children of Nazi scientists who moved to El Paso in 1947 as part of Operation Paperclip, and what these children revealed about the deep, racialized inequalities woven into the design of El Paso public schools. In the process of using these archives, she found, as education historians often do, that the perspective and voices of the children were often absent in the archives. Perrillo will also focus on what I did to overcome those silences, and the other kinds of tools that became of prime importance to me in reconstructing this extraordinary event in our nation's history.

Jonna Perrillo has been an education historian and a professor of English Education at the University of Texas of El Paso since 2005. Her scholarship focuses on the history of schools and citizenship, both in the sense of how schools define and translate citizenship values and how they enfranchise or disenfranchise students and teachers. She is the author of two books: Uncivil Rights: Teachers, Unions, and the Battle for School Equity and Educating the Enemy: Teaching Nazis and Mexicans in the Cold War Borderlands (both with the University of Chicago Press). Educating the Enemy won the Southwest Border Regional Library’s Southwest Book Award (2023); the fourth chapter was awarded the Bolton-Cutter Prize from the Western History Association (2022). She also writes opinion pieces advocating for school equity and reform issues, and her work has been published in the Boston Review, Washington Post, Education Week, El Paso Matters, and the El Paso Times. Educating the Enemy has been reported on in Time magazine, and on NPR and PBS, including on “Newsmakers” on KRWG in Las Cruces.

1:40 - 2:20 pm

Jim Eckles – “Trinity Site, Oppenheimer and the BOMB”

 A look at what happened at Trinity Site where the first atomic bomb was tested on July 16, 1945. What was Oppenheimer's role? And a look at some myths that have developed.

Jim Eckles worked at White Sands Missile Range for 30 years in the Public Affairs Office. He has been to Trinity Site more than any other human being running open houses, escorting special tours and taking VIPs around.  His book, Trinity: The History Of An Atomic Bomb National Historic Landmark was published in 2013. Yes, the military police did play polo at Trinity Site.

2:30 - 3:20 pm

Christian Valle – “Clara Belle Williams, New Mexico Pioneer in Education

The life of Clara Belle Williams was a story I thought should be told visually in a half-hour documentary. The importance of Clara Belle Williams to the area is she is the first African American graduate of New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. In the interviews I conducted, with relatives and individuals that knew of her and her families’ stories, I knew there was a great story to tell. Clara Belle Williams grew up from a family of sharecroppers in East Texas just outside Austin in Plum, Texas. It was important to tell the story of not only her but her husband and her sons to show the influence that Clara Belle had on her family and how they in turn helped other people. While attending college in the summer to obtain her degree she faced racism of the day by having to attend classes just outside the door. This did not stop her in obtaining in raising a family of three boys, teaching at Phillips chapel during the school semester and obtaining degrees in English and Education and a minor in Math. After she graduated, Booker T. Washington School was built and she taught there for 27 years. After she retired, she decided to move closer to her family and work at the Williams Clinic in Chicago, Illinois. By this time, her three sons had graduated from college and all three became physicians with different disciplines. The major source of the materials was obtained from different archives posted online and the interviews themselves. Each interview was able to tell a different part of Clara Belle William’s life. It was important for me to capture interviews with Clara Belle Williams grandchildren and a great granddaughter as they are getting older and it was best to capture this history about their family.

Christian P. Valle was born in El Paso, Texas but attended college at New Mexico State University where he pursued a degree in Journalism. There he found his calling as television production classes became his top priority. He worked at KRWG for several years as a student production aide and after graduating he was able to work their full time for the last seventeen years. He has been a videographer, editor, producer, director and now has recently become the TV production manager for KRWG Public Media.  He is also responsible for the handling of the production side of News22, the only locally student produced, student run newscast.

For more information, please contact: Claudia Rivers, Special Collections, University of Texas at El Paso Library,, 915-747-6725, or Dennis Daily, Archives and Special Collections, New Mexico State University Library,, 575-646-4756.

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