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Paul Graham McHenry Papers

Identifier: MSS-739-BC

Scope and Content

The Paul G. McHenry Papers pertains to the history, construction, restoration and preservation of adobe and earthen buildings, as well as the advantages and problems of adobe building relating to environmental issues.

The collection consists of manuscripts, educational materials, articles, sketches, notes, diagrams, photographs, magazines, publications, correspondence, and reports. The collection is organized by series subject headings, which include: writing and teaching materials; research materials; research materials from travel, primarily to China, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, France; reports and studies related to construction issues and the environment; adobe preservation; international research, conferences and publications.

Some items of note include drafts of manuscripts relating to: the history of early southwestern inhabitants and their earthen dwellings, how New Mexico adobe buildings were built, and instructions on how to build an adobe home.

A large series of photographic materials including slides, prints and negatives is also included.


  • 1806-2002
  • Majority of material found within 1975-1987


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.

Biographical Information

Paul "Buzz" McHenry, Jr. was a leading authority on adobe and earthen technology. After growing up in Chicago and serving in World War II as a tail gunner, McHenry attended the University of New Mexico, earning a business degree. Starting out as manager of his own construction company, he went on to build adobe homes in the 1960's, becoming a dedicated advocate of earthen construction. He taught adobe building at UNM from 1966 -1973, while completing a Masters degree in architecture in 1974.

Designer of hundreds of earthen homes worldwide, he authored numerous books on the subject and developed an international reputation, lecturing in China, France, Bolivia, Italy, Turkey and Peru. In 1970, McHenry traveled to Iran, studying different types of earthen buildings. His research resulted in innovative designs, utilizing arches, domes, and vaults.

Pursuing regional projects in the 1980s, he worked on the stabilization of Fort Union, a New Mexico military post built in the 1800's. He also assisted in the restoration of homes at Acoma Pueblo and buildings at the Coronado Monument in Bernalillo. He founded the non-profit organization, Earth Building Foundation, and helped revise New Mexico's adobe building code in 2000.

Paul G. McHenry, Jr. died in Albuquerque on January 22, 2002.


18 boxes (17.5 cu. ft.)


Research articles, correspondence, publications, and theses, relating to Paul G. McHenry, Jr., a contractor, architect, and scholar in the field of adobe and earthen home building.

Related Archival Material

Paul Graham McHenry Drawings. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico University Libraries. Center for Regional Studies and the Center for Southwest Research Fellows presentation, Ellen Evans-Colburn

Harry Kinney Papers Center for Southwest Research, General Library, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Sixteen architectural drawings of the Tumacacori National Monument have been transferred to the HABS collection, John Gaw Meem Archives of Southwestern Architecture, Center for Southwest Research

Publications from this collection have been catalogued under the series title: Paul G. McHenry, Jr. collection.
Finding Aid of the Paul Graham McHenry Papers, 1806-2002
Processed by Ellen Evans-Colburn
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • 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