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A New Mexico Federal Writers' Project Book
By Ann Lacy and Anne Valley-Fox, compilers and editors

Stories by Hispanic writers in New Mexico between 1936 and 1940 as part of the Federal Writers’ Project in New Mexico.


The story of Spanish settlement in New Mexico begins with Francisco Vásquez de Coronado’s expedition into the territory in 1540–1542. The conquistadors were seeking new lands, gold, and converts to Christianity. In 1598, Juan de Oñate’s expedition of soldiers, settlers and indigenous Mexicans arrived, charged by the Crown to colonize the northern frontier of New Spain. Far from Mexico and the seat of Spanish government, in a land of extremes already inhabited by the First Americans, these settlers proved their tenacity. Farmers, shepherds and townspeople, they lived off the land: they built houses and churches, constructed irrigation ditches, raised crops, wove cloth and hunted for food in an often hostile land. They borrowed, bartered and intermarried with their Pueblo neighbors and weathered an occasional uprising; they battled with Comanche, Apache, and Navajo for control of land and resources. When the American army arrived, they chose sides and paid the consequences.

Between 1936 and 1940, field workers in the New Deal Works Project Administration’s Federal Writers’ Project (WPA) recorded authentic accounts of life in the early days of New Mexico. Happily for us, Hispano settlers were avid storytellers and gave the field writers detailed descriptions of village life, battles with Indians, encounters with Billy the Kid, witchcraft, marriages, festivals and floods. The result is a rich and uniquely regional literature.

Stories from Hispano New Mexico is the fourth volume in the New Mexico Federal Writers’ Project Book series. The first three titles in the series are Outlaws & Desperados, Frontier Stories and Lost Treasures & Old Mines, all from Sunstone Press.

Ann Lacy, an artist and researcher/writer, has lived in New Mexico since 1979. She has worked for Project Crossroads, a not-for-profit educational resource group, in projects related to New Mexico history and culture. Participating in preserving open space and preservation efforts, she received a City of Santa Fe Heritage Preservation Award in 2000.

Anne Valley-Fox is co-editor of the New Mexico Federal Writers’ Project Book series. She is a poet and writer who has worked for two decades as a writer/researcher for Project Crossroads. Her fourth collection of poetry is How Shadows Are Bundled (University of New Mexico Press, 2009).

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