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Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert Papers

Identifier: MSS-603-BC

Scope and Content

This collection is divided into three series: Genealogy, Folklore and History, and Personal. The genealogy series contains notes, narratives, charts, last wills and testaments, correspondence, and other documents pertaining to the Baca and Delgado families and their relations.

The Folklore and History series primarily contains narratives and notes, written by Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert. Her writings combine historical research with local folklore and tradition in topics relating to New Mexico's land and people, including settlements, Spanish culture, colonial life, religious practices, family life, native foods, home remedies, agriculture. This series also includes correspondence, newsletters, and narratives on folklore in general, as well as materials relating specifically to her publications, We Fed Them Cactus and The Good Life. News clippings are also found in this series.

The final and smallest section of the collection contains materials of a somewhat personal nature. This includes biographical materials, mementos, and a small amount of general correspondence.

Materials is this collection are written in English and Spanish. Postcards, predominantly of Spain and Mexico, along with photographs have been transferred to the Center for Southwest Research Photoarchives.


  • 1602-1996


Language of Materials

English Spanish

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

Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert, agricultural extension agent and author, was born into a prominent ranching family near Las Vegas, New Mexico, on May 16, 1894.* Her mother died when she was four; consequently, she was brought up by her father, Don Graciano Cabeza de Baca and her "very Spanish" paternal grandmother, Estefanita Delgado Cabeza de Baca.

Gilbert attended high school in Las Vegas and received her bachelor's degree in pedagogy from New Mexico Normal (Highlands) in 1921. In 1929, she received a B.S. degree in home economics from NMSU and proceeded to join the Agricultural Extension Service. She served as an extension agent for more than 30 years, mostly in New Mexico. She was extension agent for Santa Fe County from 1929-1947, then served the next 12 years as agent-at-large for 7 northern New Mexico counties. She went to Mexico in 1950 as a representative of the United Nations, where she set up demonstration centers among the Tarascan Indians and trained extension agents from Central and South America.

She had a deep respect for traditional ways. As a writer, she often tried to link the present with events of the past, providing a popular history of people and places. The family stories, told by her father and grandmother were incorporated into her writings. Three of her most renowned publications are Historic Cookery, The Good Life, and We Fed Them Cactus. She won many awards and participated in many community organizations. After her retirement in 1959, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert continued to deliver lectures and worked as a trainer and consultant for the Peace Corps. She died in Albuquerque on October 14, 1991.

*There has been some confusion concerning her birth date, however the 1894 date has been verified orally with her niece, and this is also the date that appears in her obituary.


1 box (.5 cu. ft. )

Related Material

Vertical File: Cabeza de Baca, Fabiola . Center for Southwest Research, General Library, University of New Mexico.

Hispanic Writers Collection. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Women in New Mexico Collection. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

Separated Material

Photographs have been transferred to the Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert Photograph Collection

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Lomeli, Francisco A. Chicano Writers. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992.

Processing Information

Folder 25 added, November 2006
Finding Aid of the Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert Papers, 1602-1996
For Approval
Processed by B. Silbergleit
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 603 BC::Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss603bc.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