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Dan Chavez Papers on the History of New Mexico Government

Identifier: MSS-1033-BC

Scope and Content

Dan Chavez donated these papers to the Center for Southwest Research in 2012, adding a few items in subsequent years. The last in Box 2 were added in 2022. He had always been interested in New Mexico government and politics, and after retirement wanted to study and write about some of the unsung local leaders.

The majority of the folders in Box 1 deal with his book on Soledad Chacon, published in 1996. There are original and personal materials from Chacon’s daughter, Lena Ward, as well as histories of her family. In 1922, Chacon was nominated by the New Mexico Democratic State Convention for Secretary of State and won, being reelected in 1924. She was thus the first Hispanic woman elected to a State government office. While Secretary, she was called upon twice to be Acting Governor of New Mexico. In 1934 Chacon was the first and only Hispanic woman from Bernalillo County elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Another section contains information about the poetry and short stories of Felipe M. Chacon, who was the brother in law of Soledad Chacon. He wrote poems for Soledar and for Larrazolo. Another interesting piece is the historical play by Jose Andres Chacon, about the Native American girl, Maria, who was recovered by Rafael Chacon from the Navajos. While researching Chacon, Chavez also collected material on the other women in New Mexico politics. The collection also has his 1999 study of New Mexico Women legislators, 1923-1999. He also made annotated lists of New Mexico’s various elected federal and state officials, which is included in the 2012 Statehood Anniversary New Mexico Blue Book. He also researched and published information of Territorial Delegates and the Justices and Chief Justices of New Mexico.

Box 2 has mainly material about New Mexico Governor and Senator Octaviano Larrazolo, a Mexican immigrant. Chavez researched the life and contributions of Larrazolo to portray his character for the New Mexico Humanities Council Chautauqua program. Chavez interviewed and received material from Eva Larrazolo, the wife of Paul F. Larrazolo, who was the son of the Governor, and from others. The papers cover Larrazolo's Legislative goals and views, concerns for the Villista prisoners captured during the Columbus 1916 raid, Larrazolo and Montes family history and other interesting topics.

Chavez noted that Governor Larrazolo supported women’s suffrage in New Mexico and helped pave the way for women in government like Soledad Chacon. In August 1919 Larrazolo proposed an amendment to the State constitution for women to vote, which failed by two votes. In 1920, he supported the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which the New Mexico Legislature approved. Also in the collection is Amelia Andrews’s study of John V. Conway, 1872-1953, who was a pioneer New Mexico school superintendent. The collection gives a good view of the political leaders and issues in the early decades of New Mexico statehood history.


  • 1872-2016
  • Majority of material found within 1970-1999


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

Dr. Dan D. Chavez was a UNM professor, administrator and historian. He was born in 1934 on the family farm in Pajarito, Bernalillo County, New Mexico, to Nicodemus Chavez and Petrita Pena. After attending Pajarito Elementary School, he attended the Northern New Mexico Normal School in El Rito, where he served as class president and lettered in football, baseball, and boxing. He was class salutatorian and graduated in 1951. He went to the University of New Mexico and was active in the marching band, student government, and the Aquinas Newman Center. After graduating in 1955 with a B.S. in Science Education, he volunteered in the U.S. Navy, completed officer training, and was commissioned as a naval officer. He married Adeline Sanchez Chavez and they raised three children.

Chavez taught science in the Albuquerque Public Schools and enrolled in the UNM Master's Program in Educational Administration. He received his M.S. in 1961 and was appointed as principal of the Bernalillo Junior High School. Subsequently, he worked for the New Mexico State Department of Education as director of the New Mexico Small Schools Project, a program to improve instruction in the small rural schools of the state. Among the many achievements of this project, he, the principals and teachers developed a new school position, the educational assistant, which was officially established by the New Mexico State Board of Education.

Chavez was awarded a University of Michigan Mott doctoral fellowship and received his Ph.D. in Educational Administration in 1968. That year he was appointed the associate director of the Division of Continuing Education at UNM. In 1970 he became director of the UNM College Enrichment Program (CEP). As the first full-time director, he further developed and expanded the program. CEP recruited students for UNM from all the state high schools and provided a summer orientation program, academic advisement, counseling, tutoring, and placement services upon graduation. When he retired in 1990, CEP had recruited over 3000 students for the university. CEP was recognized as an "exemplary program for college-bound minority students" by the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) in 1988. CEP was also recognized as "one of the better recruitment and retention systems of its kind in the country" by the National Center for Student Recruitment/Retention in 1990.

After retiring from UNM in 1990, Dr. Chavez devoted his time to researching and writing about the political history of New Mexico. His published a book on New Mexico Women Legislators: 1923-1999, New Mexico Legislative Council Service, 1999. In addition, he wrote a book on Soledad Chavez Chacon: A New Mexico Political Pioneer: 1890-1936, UNM Press, 1996. He also researched the historical chronology of New Mexico’s elected federal and state officials for the 2012 Statehood Anniversary New Mexico Blue Book, printed by the Office of the New Mexico Secretary of State.

In addition, the Sabine Ulibarri Papers a CSWR contain a 1988 recorded interview with Dr. Dan Chavez made by Cecile Turrietta de Chang. Under the sponsorship of Ulibarri, she interviewed several of the first Hispanics in their generation to break the Anglo-American career barrier and become faculty and administrators at UNM. There is also a video interview with Chavez in the Abe Pena Pappers in the Rio Grande Collection at the New Mexico State University Archives, Las Cruces. Under the sponsorship of the New Mexico Humanities Council Chautauqua program, Chavez also portrayed Octaviano Larrazolo, a Mexican-born New Mexican who served as New Mexico Governor and U.S. Senator. CSWR holds a video of his portrayal of the life of the Governor, made in 1998 during the presentation of the Octaviano Larrazolo papers by his granddaughter, Francina Larrazolo, to the CSWR archives. In 2012 Chavez delivered the keynote presentation for the New Mexico Supreme Court's 100th Anniversary Celebration in Santa Fe. In 2016 Chavez was personally recognized by the New Mexico State Legislature for his "vision, foresight and dedication as Founder and Director of the College Enrichment Program at the University of New Mexico." UNM planted a tree in his honor in 2016 in the Mesa Vista courtyard. Dr. Chavez passed away in 2017.


2 boxes (1.50 ft., and one oversize folder)


The collection contains the research and manuscript of Dan D. Chavez for his book on Soledad Chacon. Included are documents related to her and her family, letters to her, and an interview with her daughter, Lena Ward. There are also materials by and about the writer, Felipe M. Chacon, a relative of Soledad. Further, it has annotated lists of New Mexico political and judicial officials researched by Chavez. In addition, the collection has some of Chavez's preliminary work on Octaviano Larrazolo and a study by Amelia Andrews of John Conway, an early New Mexico school superintendent.

Related Archival Material

Octaviano A. Larrazolo Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. William H. Andrews Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

Processing Information

Inquire with reference staff for access to unprocessed material, 1 box, B3-11A.
Finding Aid of the Dan Chavez Papers on the History of New Mexico Government, 1872-2016
N. Brown-Martinez
© 2019, 2022
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