Skip to main content

Coe Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-480-BC

Scope and Content

The Coe family papers consist of manuscript materials and correspondence related to Louise Coe's, Lady and the Law Books and High Roads to Friendships, and Wilbur Coe's Ranch on the Ruidoso. Of special interest in Wilbur Coe's book is the history of the family's participation in the violent Lincoln County War. Wilbur Coe took down the stories told by his grandfather and great-uncles, who employed Billy the Kid as a seasonal ranch hand and maintained his friendship during the conflict.


  • 1925-1984

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.


Louise Holland Coe (l896-l985), born in Bartlett, Texas, received her B.A. from the University of New Mexico. She taught school in the Ruidoso Valley from l9l6 to l9l8, and married rancher Wilbur Coe in l9l9. Her interest in education led to the beginning of a public career when she was elected Lincoln County Superintendent of Schools in l923.

In l925, only six years after women in the United States had won the right to vote, Mrs. Coe was elected to the New Mexico State Senate. She was the first and only woman member of that legislative body for sixteen years; during her last term, she served as President pro-tempore. She retired in l94l to run in the United States congressional race.

During her four consecutive terms of office, Mrs. Coe concentrated on programs to improve the public education system. As chairman of the Senate Education Committee for l2 years, she was influential in securing legislation regarding free textbooks, larger libraries, higher teacher qualifications and salaries, and the use of sales and severance taxes as school revenues.

After spending twenty-five years working for the people of her state, Mrs. Coe spent thirty years traveling around the world. She wrote of her varied career and travels in Lady and the Law Books (l98l), and High Roads to Friendships (l984).

Her husband, Wilbur F. Coe (l893-l9??), a third generation owner of the famous Coe Ranch, spent his entire life on the ranch, taking time off to receive a law degree from Stanford University and to take specialized training in ranch management. The lives of Louise and Wilbur Coe and the varied life at the ranch are related in his book Ranch on the Ruidoso, published by Knopf in l968.


2 boxes (2 cu. ft.)

Related Material

Women in New Mexico Collection University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for Southwest Research Louise Coe was one of l3 women featured in the l976 AAUW exhibition on Women in New Mexico.

John L. Sinclair Papers University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for Southwest Research Much of John Sinclair's writing is based on his experiences as a ranch hand in the Ruidoso Valley from l923 to l937. He was also first curator of the Lincoln County Museum from l942 to l944.

Ealy Family Papers University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for Southwest Research Various items in this collection relate to Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War.

Antiques, pictures, and momentos of the Coe families, including photographs of the ranch and Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth Hurd paintings, are in possession of the Lincoln County Heritage Trust in Lincoln, New Mexico.

Separated Material

  1. l5 photographs printed in Louise Coe's book High Roads to Friendships, published l984.
  2. l3 color prints from slides (travel photos).
The following photographs have been transferred to the Louise Holland Coe Photograph Collection:

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Abousleman, Michel D. Who's Who in New Mexico, Vol.1. Albuquerque: Abousleman Co., l937, p. 50.
  • Coe, Louise. "Lady Rancher on the Ruidoso." New Mexico Magazine (January-February, l974), p. 30.
  • Whitney, Virginia K. and Josephine Koogler. Women in Education: New Mexico. Quarah, TX: Nortex Press, c. 1977, p. 222-223.
Finding aid of the Coe Family Papers, 1925-1984
Processed by CSWR staff
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 480 BC::Coe Family Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss480bc.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 UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131