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NMSU Library awarded National Endowment for the Humanities grant


The New Mexico State University Library received a prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize and continue preserving a valuable collection stored in the library’s Archives and Special Collections.The $350,000 grant was awarded in May and will be used to digitize and increase access to 15,000 pages of original correspondence from the Amador family, a prominent pioneer Mexican American family that settled in Las Cruces in the late 1840s.In celebration, NMSU Library will host an NEH grant kickoff party from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, at Zuhl Library, on the third floor. The event will feature guest speakers who will discuss their research involving original Spanish-language correspondence in the Amador papers, and the importance of the NEH award for making this resource more accessible worldwide. Free parking will be available in lots 17 South, 45, and 50 for attendees.The project is led by Monika Glowacka-Musial, metadata librarian at NMSU Library; Dennis Daily, department head of NMSU’s Archives and Special Collections; and Jennifer Olguin, NMSU’s Rio Grande Historical Collections archivist.“The grant puts the NMSU Library on the map as a provider of digital collections unique to the multicultural Southwest and New Mexico,” said Glowacka-Musial, principal investigator on the project. “Because of the NEH grant application, we have already extended our professional networks and created opportunities for future joint-digitization and digital scholarship projects, including digital humanities. With this project, we open doors for partnership between the library and local and global scholars interested in this collection, and in its data.”Hamid Mansouri Rad, senior proposal development specialist in the office of Research Administration Services at NMSU, also played a critical role in helping secure the grant.“This effort showcases the value of thoughtful planning and effective collaboration. I really enjoyed working with Monika, Dennis, and Jennifer,” Rad said. “Thanks to their commitment, we were able to submit the full proposal to NEH two months in advance and meet with an NEH program manager who gave us invaluable feedback. This was the largest NEH award we have ever received at NMSU – all due to the hard work of this team. I look forward to working with them in the future.”This Amador family collection has been housed in Archives and Special Collections for more than 50 years and has provided information useful in disciplines such as ethnic and border studies, history, political science, art, geography and more. Many of the materials have also been featured in scholarly books and articles, exhibitions, video productions and student papers.“The Amador family papers have grown over the years and supplemental material has been incorporated into the existing collection. This is a fascinating collection and sheds light on the pioneer Las Cruces family,” said Olguin.These materials have been accessible on-site at NMSU’s main campus since the 1970s, and through the years, have gained a steady stream of users, academic and public, who have appreciated and utilized the collection for its unique trans-border perspective and massive scope.This is the first humanities grant of this magnitude that the NMSU Library has received, and the goal of the project is ensuring a worldwide community of scholars has online access to these border voices.“While the collection has been used by scholars across the U.S. and in Mexico for decades, providing digital access to these materials will facilitate research across the globe to those interested in border and cultural studies, particularly those who might find it difficult or impossible to come to Las Cruces to use the collection on site,” Daily said. “In essence, it helps democratize access to the collection by making it freely available to anyone with an internet connection. This continues NMSU Library’s trajectory of digitizing its holdings of unique historical collections that are found nowhere else.”The team said they also plan to collaborate with students, as well as the public, using crowdsourcing and voice-to-text emerging technologies, to provide transcripts and translations of the correspondence in the future.Following the grant period, the team aims to invite students, researchers, and the public to engage with the Amador family correspondence digital data in creative exploration and experimentation.The Amador family digitization project is expected to take about three years, from August 2022 to August 2025.The team plans to create a web presence where they will continually provide updated information on the status and progress of the project.

New Mexico State University Library, National Endowment for the Humanities, Amador family