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Mary Daniels Taylor papers

Identifier: Ms-0162

Scope and Content

This collection of files contains the materials created, copied and collected by Mary Taylor over more than 40 years of research and writing. When they arrived at the NMSU Library they showed very little recognizable order, and the assistance of Terry Reynolds was indispensable in organizing them. In most cases, we have imposed our own order on the papers. A few folders had been numbered according to a filing system once in use, but since the surviving evidence of that system was so fragmentary, we have not kept these numbers.

The papers are organized into the following series: Father Grange, Perla Alidib, María Chávez Fountain, Published books, Other books, Research files, Research correspondence, Family history, Church and civic activity, Photographs, Various and unsorted and Maps.


  • 1848-2007
  • Majority of material found in 1976-2004

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Most of the materials in this collection are available for research under supervised conditions in the Research Room. Some are under restriction, as noted in the container list.

Copy Restrictions

Copyrights associated with materials in this collection have not been transferred to New Mexico State University.

Biography / History

Mary Helen Daniels was born in El Paso in 1922 and attended Texas College of Mines (University of Texas at El Paso) before attending NMCA&MA during World War II. She taught second grade at Zack White Elementary School and history at Bowie High School before marrying J. Paul Taylor on December 27 1945 in El Paso. They settled in Mesilla and she taught English at NMCA&MA in 1946 and 1947. In 1953 they moved into the Barela-Reynolds property, which had been occupied by Father Jean Grange. Parts of the house date from the 1860s when Sheriff Mariano Barela lived there with his mother Rafaela. The Taylor family built new rooms on over the years while they lived there. Paul and Mary raised seven children: Robert Milton, Mary Dolores, Michael Romero, Mary Helen Catherine, John Paul Jr. (now deceased), Albert Patrick and Rosemary Marguerite. In 2006 the property, including the house, furnishings and art work, became a New Mexico State Monument upon the donation by the Taylor family. Mary Taylor was fascinated by the history of New Mexico, particularly the Mesilla Valley. She was a fervent advocate for the endurance and preservation of Hispanic culture. Her strong Catholicism played a important role in her community and historical activities. She and her husband also collected art, particularly the arts of New Mexico. In addition to being a professional photographer she pursued a long career as a historian. In the 1950s she and Nona Barrick began doing research in the archives of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso. She also worked with Terry Reynolds in studying the Tortugas community of Las Cruces. In 1976 Nona and Mary published The Mesilla Guard, 1851-61. About the same time the Taylors began traveling to Durango, Mexico, to do research into the archdiocese archives there. Mary’s efforts were instrumental in starting the NMSU Library’s Durango Microfilming Project, which lasted from 1992 to 2008. The project resulted in the filming of records from Mexican archives which are now found on hundreds of reels in the library’s Archives and Special Collections Department. She also served as the archivist for the Diocese of Las Cruces. Mary Taylor’s book the history of Mesilla, begun in the 1960’s. A Place as Wild As the West Ever Was: Mesilla, New Mexico 1848-1872, was published in 2004. She died in January 2007. Sources: Frankie Miller, “Mary of the Mantilla,” Southern New Mexico Historical Review XVII (2010)“DEDICATION OF THE TAYLOR-BARELA-REYNOLDS-MESILLA STATE MONUMENT,” CARTA News October 2006., accessed May 2012. Obituary, Las Cruces Sun-News, January 12, 2007.


22 Linear feet


The research, writing, and personal papers of Mary Daniels Taylor, dating from 1848-2007. Most of the materials range from 1976-2004. The collection contains family history papers, drafts and research files and correspondence for the books Mary Taylor published as well as for other topics, church and civic activity, and a number of photographs and maps. In addition, Mary Taylor collected original documents from a number of Mesilla residents, including Father Jean Grance, Pearla Alidib, and Mary Chavez Fountain.

Related Material

Amador family papers. Ms 0004. New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department. Archivos Históricos del Arzobispado de Durango microfilms. Ms 0355. New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department. Archivos Históricos del Arzobispado de Durango microfilms. Ms 0355. New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department. John Lemon Ms 0233 New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department.
Guide to the Mary Daniels Taylor papers, 1848-2007
Edited Full Draft
Terry Reynolds, Jennifer Chavez and Charles Stanford.
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

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