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George Griggs family papers

Identifier: Ms-0032

Scope and Content

Materials contained in the George Griggs Collection have been assembled from items that have been at the New Mexico State University Library for some time. Consequently there are many gaps in the collection's coverage. Rather than being a comprehensive assemblage of Griggs' private papers, this collection consists primarily of items covering World War II and the period immediately thereafter. As a result there is very little material in this collection that documents Griggs' activities, instead it is an interesting miscellany of items that were at one time in his possession.

Among the items contained in the collection are bank statements, a few loose bills and advertisements, newspaper clipping on Billy the Kid and other topics of interest to Griggs. Some of the material is in Spanish. Correspondence dates from 1900-1954 and touches on a variety of topics.

The collection also contains deeds, redemption certificates, account books, several unidentified drawings, and a Spanish handbill. One file holds materials pertaining to James E. Griggs' army career. Among the items contained in this segment are rosters of his army unit's return to the United States following World War II. Other items contained in the collection include maps, a notebook, and an issue of Cosmos, a French anthropological magazine. This includes additional articles and notes he made during a study of evolution.

Several interesting booklets are found in the printed materials section. Although these items do not cover the same topics and in some cases do not appear to relate to Griggs, they provide valuable information. For example, Hindenburg von Rudolf Stohl is printed in German and does not relate to the Southwest. Digs is an archaeological publication while "The First Community of Theater and Playwright In The United States," deals with the performing arts. Among the articles that deal with Mexico are a New Mexico Historical Review reprint of "The Chihuahua Highway," Chihuahua Railroads, and Letras.

Also included in the collection are mining reports. There is a report on the Samalayuan mine location as well as one on the Tres Amigos Gold Mining Company. Both reports are written in narrative form rather than in statistical style. Additionally, there are tour guides to six Spanish cities contained in the collections. Photographs, periodicals and publications have been separated from the collection and placed in appropriate locations.

Additional material relating to the family was added in June 2005. This material includes items relating to family genealogy and photocopies of family correspondence, as well as an oral history interview with Edgar Griggs.


  • 1900-1954

Language of Materials


Access and Use Restrictions

This material may be examined by researchers under supervised conditions in the Search Room.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright and other applicable statutes.

All literary rights possessed in this collection have been transferred and assigned to New Mexico State University.

Biographical Sketch

George W. Griggs was born in Mesilla, New Mexico on May 2, 1866. His father, James Edgar Griggs, educated at Princeton, moved from New Jersey to Fort Filmore, New Mexico in 1859. The elder Griggs' ventures in mining and mercantile establishment led him to settle in Mesilla, where he married Eugenia Ascarate, a daughter of Cristobal Ascarate, a member of one of the most prominent Mexican families in the territory. They had six children of whom George was the second. After finishing his formal education at St. Regis College in Denver, Colorado, George Griggs migrated to Mexico.

Griggs quickly won an honored place in the affections of the President of Mexico, Porfirio Diaz. Diaz appointed Griggs Governor of Baja California. While in this area, Griggs studied the Tarahumara Indians of Chihuahua and produced the first dictionary of their language. He also studied mining and his 1911 Mines of Chihuahua remains one of the most complex technological histories of mining ever attempted.

When the Mexican Revolution overthrew Diaz in 1910, Griggs was forced to flee the country and walked from Monterrey to Eagle Pass, Texas and then to Mesilla. After his return to Mesilla, Griggs began writing the history of the region, History of Mesilla Valley or The Gadsden Purchase. Griggs also ran the Billy the Kid Museum in Mesilla and spent his latter years engaged in scholarly study. He died November 2, 1939.


9 linear inches


Mesilla, New Mexico museum owner, Mexican government official, compiler of historical and mining data, one time director of the State Mineral Exhibit and author of The Mines of Chihuahua. Includes bank statements, bills, newspaper and magazine clippings, memorandum No. 2 from the Commission Internacional de Limites Entre Mexico y Los Estados Unidos, correspondence, research, articles, deeds, redemption certificates, account books, drawings, a handbill, items from James E. Griggs, programs from Knights of Columbus meeting, maps, notebook, printed materials, "Regulations Governing Sanitation of Food and Food Handling Establishments," mining reports and Spanish tourist brochures.


  1. A15
  2. A32
  3. A40
  4. RG92-096 Gift of Edgar Griggs
  5. RG2001-076 Gift of Dr. Thomas K. Todsen

Related Material

John Lemon family papers. Ms 0233. New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department.

Cortes, Carlos E. The Mexican Experience In Arizona. New York, Arna Press, 1976.

Griggs, George. George Griggs: History of the Old West. Las Cruces, New Mexico, Bronson Printing Company, 1974.

________. History of the Mesilla Valley or The Gadsden Purchase Known In Mexico As The Treaty of Mesilla. Las Cruces, New Mexico, Bronson Printing Company, 1930.

________. Mines of Chihuahua. Chihuahua: Imp. El Norte, 1911.

________. Mines of Chihuahua. 1907.

Separated Material

The following items have been transferred to Special Collections:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1883)

A Smaller Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology and Geography (1887)

Las Cruces/Hatch Telephone Directory (1943)

Proof pages for The Mines of Chihuahua, Revista Catolica, Dec. 28, 1924

John Martin's Book: The Child's Magazine

The following items are very moldy and have been removed from the collection to protect other items from becoming moldy:

Montezuma (Nogales Arizona) brochure (printed, not unique)

Letter from Kemp and Nagle, October 22, 1930

"A" Day Activities Program (NM AC2M) (printed, not unique)

Two letters about the Billy the Kid Museum for school children

"From Despotism to Anarchy" (printed, not unique)

Fragment of Mines of Chihuahua manuscript presented by Mrs. Taylor, August 5, 1959


Contact Information

  1. Archives and Special Collections
  2. New Mexico StateUniversity Library
  3. P.O. Box 30006
  4. Las Cruces, New Mexico88003-8006
  5. Phone: (505) 646-3839
  6. Fax: (505) 646-7477
  7. Email:
  8. URL:


Processing Information

Merleen Dibert and Cecelia Carrasco
Guide to the George Griggs family papers, 1900-1954
Edited Full Draft
Merleen Dibert and Cecelia Carrasco
© 2000
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//New Mexico State University::Archives and Special Collections//TEXT (US::NmLcU::Ms 032::George Griggs Family Papers)//EN" "nmlcu1ms032.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA