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Jose A. Rivera Papers

Identifier: MSS-587-BC

Scope and Content

This collection contains articles, reports, meeting minutes, ledgers, legal documents, clippings, oral histories, and photographs produced and collected by Professor Rivera while researching several different projects. The collection is divided into four series: Series I. Acequias (irrigation ditches), Series II. Mutualistas (mutual aid societies), and Series III. Justice of the Peace, Sapello, NM., and Series VI. San Antonio, Texas Water Systems.

Series I contains the bulk of the collection, which relates to research on acequias, or community ditch irrigation systems. This includes research and publications files, acequia association records, seminar/workshop records, and oral histories. The research and publications files, arranged chronologically, contain transcriptions and translations of source documents, government reports, published and unpublished papers (including writings by Rivera), and articles on Precolombian systems, Spanish colonial irrigation, present-day systems of irrigation and their administration throughout New Mexico and Colorado. Of primary interest in this series are organizational records of acequia associations from around New Mexico, such as the Belen Ditch Association. These includes minutes, rules, ledgers, journals, business records, by-laws, and resolutions. Many of these documents were collected as part of a UNM sponsored project entitled,"Acequias y Sangrias: The Course of New Mexico Waters," funded by the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities (NMEH). Notes and transcripts from proceedings of several workshops and seminars on water systems are also included in this series. Together, the materials in series I resulted in a book, Acequia culture : Water, Land, and Community in the Southwest, University of New Mexico Press, 1998.

The acequias series also contains a large oral history component, the products of three separate oral history projects. The first, a part of the larger "Acequias y Sangrias" project, were recorded in 1985. These interviews are transcribed; most are in Spanish. The second is a series of interviews by F. Lee Brown and Gil Bonem as part of the "Upper Rio Grande Survey" project, sponsored by the Ford Foundation and conducted through the University of New Mexico. A small portion of the interviews were used in Brown's book, co-authored by Helen Ingram, Water and Poverty in the Southwest (Tucson: University of Arizona, 1987). Only four of these interviews are transcribed. The third oral history project contains three interviews by Dan Scurlock, archeological consultant, about Las Huertas, NM, all of which are transcribed.

Series II contains research materials on Hispanic American mutualistas, or mutual aid societies. These documents include ledgers, constitutions, and board of directors minutes from various mutual aid societies in the Southwest, primarily from the Union Protectiva de Santa Fe and the Sociedad de Proteccion Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos headquartered in Antonito, Colorado. The research began under an NMEH grant to the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute at UNM to study mutualistas in Roswell, NM. Rivera later expanded on the initial research, in preparation for a book on mutual aid societies. Some of the initial research was used in the published monograph, Mutual Aid Societies in the Hispanic Southwest: Alternative Sources of Community Empowerment (Albuquerque: Southwest Hispanic Research Institute, 1984).

The third series contains three journals kept by justices of the peace in Sapello, NM, 1881-1939. There is also a community register of Sapello and Las Tusas, NM, 1920-1940. The original journals were borrowed and photocopied by Rivera for their research potential. Together the items document legal, social, and community events in a rural community of northern New Mexico.

Series IV contains material Rivera collected on the acequia and dams system in San Antonio, Texas.


  • 1858-2022
  • Majority of material found in 1982-1994

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.

Biographical Information

Jose A. Rivera is an Emeritus Professor of Community and Regional Planning at the School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico. He holds an M.S.W. from Brandeis University (1970) and earned a Ph.D. from Brandeis University in Social Policy in 1972. He taught at UNM from 1982-2016 and served as Director of the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute from 1982-1994. His courses at UNM included Rural Community Development, the Practice of Policy Development and topics courses in Water Resources Planning. In the area of research, he specialized in the study of irrigation communities of New Mexico, Colorado and Texas, and for a comparative perspective he also conducted field work on the acequias of Spain, Mexico, Peru and the zanjeras of Ilocos Norte in the Philippines. He authored many publications that resulted from this work, as well as a book and journal articles about mutualista societies of the Southwest. From 2010-2014 he served as Secretario Superior of the Sociedad Proteccion Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos, a tri-state mutual aid society with local councils in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.


12 boxes (7 cu. ft.) + 1 oversize folder

Language of Materials



Catalan; Valencian

Mutualista Records Online

Records of the Union Protectiva de Santa Fe (boxes 6 and 7), are available in digital format at New Mexico's Digital Collections. Select "Union Protectiva" on that page to view them all.

Related Archival Material

Sociedad Proteccion Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos Records Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico. University of New Mexico. Oral History Projects and Video Recordings Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Acequia de Abajo (Sandoval County, N.M.) Records Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Photographs, almost all from the acequia series, are housed in the José A. Rivera Pictorial Collection.

Master audiocassettes stored in B3.

Processing Information

Audio cassette tapes were reformatted to CD in January 2012, at which time tapes were numbered consequtively from 1-105. All recordings (CD) are now located in box 3. There is no longer a box 4. Master oral history tapes are housed on B3, copies for researcher use are in the collection.

An addition of substantial material related to acequias was added to the collection in February 2023. These materials are almost entirely in the Acequias series, Research and Publications on Acequias subseries, Box 12. The 2023 additions are identified as such in the description for each item.
Finding Aid of the José A. Rivera Papers, 1858-2016
Processed by Cherity Foat
©2000, ©2012, ©2016, ©2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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 587 BC::José A. Rivera Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss587bc.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