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Tom Rutherford Papers

Identifier: MSS-724-BC

Scope and Content

The Tom Rutherford Papers contain material relating to his involvement with ballooning, community activism, his political career in the New Mexico Senate (1972-1996) and Bernalillo County Commission (1997-2004) as well as his legal career. There are 12 series: Ballooning, Bernalillo County Commission, Campaigns, Community Activism, Democratic Party, Fraternal Order of Police, New Mexico Senate, New Mexico Bar Association, Newspaper Clippings, Family/Personal Papers, Transportation and Memorabilia. Photographs are found throughout the collection.

Ballooning material covers local, national and international ballooning, 1909-2004. There are posters, articles, photographs, programs, patches, stickers, correspondence as well as information on the World Balloon Championship Inc., Budweiser Balloon and Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta (later called the Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.)

Bernalillo County Commission series contains fiscal information, material concerning the National Association of Counties, and correspondence.

Campaigns series covers Rutherford's campaigns for New Mexico State Senate, Lieutenant Governor and Bernalillo County Commission. There is also information on other state and national elections. This series contains political bumper stickers and a CD copy of a 45rpm recording of music. The original label reads, "Friends of Tom T. Rutherford invite you to a Birthday Fundraiser, $25, March 1 '92, Beer & Wine! Good Eats!, Monte Vista Fire Station, 3201 Central Avenue NE, Albuquerque, NM, 2-5 pm."

Community Activism seriesreflects Tom Rutherford's issues of interest while serving in the New Mexico Senate. The subject files are arranged alphabetically covering such topics as education, human rights, economic development, arts, Special Olympics, neighborhoods and tourism.

Democratic Party series contains materials on the Democratic Party in New Mexico from 1972-1996.

Fraternal Order of Police series contains correspondence, clippings, brochures, reports, and state conferences material, 1995-1997.

New Mexico Senate series consists of correspondence, reports of committees Rutherford served on, bills he sponsored, and articles on issues he was interested in. Rutherford was a participant in the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) which organized study tours overseas for young American political leaders, and also brought young political leaders from other countries to the United States. This series also contains a CD copy of a recording, "Air check with Senator Tom Rutherford, July 8, 1983." This recording has Rutherford as a guest DJ on 94 Rock, KWXL in Albuquerque. He was the State Senate Majority Whip at the time and discusses the infamous highway orange barrels and construction in New Mexico, as well as issues such as planning and growth. Side two is a continuation of the same program.

New Mexico Bar Association contains correspondence and articles, 1985-2004

Newspaper Clippings, 1965-2005, are from New Mexico newspapers in Albuquerque, Roswell, Espanola, Hobbs, Las Vegas, Santa Fe and Deming as well as surrounding states. The articles cover Rutherford while he was in the Senate and on the County Commission, political issues, county issues public announcing work Rutherford did at various charity and organizational events.

Family/Personal Papers series contains material on the Rutherford and Colby families including Tom Rutherford's parents, James William Rutherford and Elizabeth "Bets" W. Colby Rutherford. There are family newsletters and information on family vacations to California, Canada and New York. Rutherford's personal papers include certificates and awards, some law school papers, his early career including broadcasting, The Flower Shoppe, special events and charities he was involved with, personal correspondence, trips abroad including China, Hungary and Guatemala. The China trip in 1985 includes letters in Chinese to Rutherford expressing a desire to continue friendship with America. There is a newspaper article about Rutherford's visit promoting economic development, also postcards, brochures, stamps, and money. Also found in this collection is the Northampton Mercury and General Advertiser for the Counties of Northampton, Bedford, Buckingham, Huntingdon, Leicester, Warwick, Oxford, and Hertford, Saturday, September 13, 1823 and various certificates including ones for Colonel Aid-de-Camp on the staff of the Governor of New Mexico, (1972-2003).

Transportation series covers planning for the Rio Grande Rapid Ride Project 1991-1994. There are agendas, monthly reports and correspondence of the Bernalillo County Transportation Development District and the Santa Fe County Transportation Development District. Also in this series are newsletters, brochures, fact sheets and presentations for the proposed Rio Grande Rapid Rail.

Memorabilia consists of plaques, political pins, balloon stickers, cup and pen dating from 1980-2003.

Most of the collection is in English, however, there are letters to Rutherford in Chinese and Hungarian, also news articles in Chinese.


  • 1823-2006
  • Majority of material found within 1972-2004

Language of Materials

English Chinese Hungarian

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.

Donor retains copyright. Some photographs are copyrighted.

Biographical Information

Politician, lobbyist and balloonist, Thomas Truxtum Rutherford was born March 3, 1947 in Ohio. He moved with his parents, Jim and Betty Rutherford and siblings to New Mexico from Columbus, Ohio in 1954. While attending the University of New Mexico, Tom Rutherford opened The Flower Shoppe, which carried merchandise such as posters, beads, buttons and jewelry. He said he opened the store "to gain practical experiences in business." In 1970 he received his BBA in Marketing and Economics from the University of New Mexico and later in 1982 his Juris Doctorate from the University of New Mexico School of Law.

While working for KOB radio as an announcer in 1972, he co-founded the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, later earning a place in the Balloon Fiesta Hall of Fame. From 1972-1979 he served as Vice-President of the World Balloon Corporation.

In 1972 he was elected to the New Mexico State Senate. During his 24 years in the Senate his main interests were government reform, crime control, health, education, environmental quality, tax reform, community development and equal rights. He served on the Education, Rules, Local Government Needs, Science and Technology Oversight, Economic Development and New Technologies Interim and Election Study Review Committees.

After retiring from the Senate in 1996 he was elected to the Bernalillo County Commission representing District Three, where he served 8 years. He was also retained as General Counsel for the National Fraternal Order of Police for 6 years. He founded The Rutherford Group where he represents local, national, and international corporations and groups before the legislature.

Source: Tom Rutherford website.


10 boxes + 1 oversize folder


The Tom Rutherford Papers contain material relating to his involvement with ballooning, community activism, legal career, political career in the New Mexico Senate (1972-1996) and Bernalillo County Commission (1997-2004).


12 series:
  1. Ballooning
  2. Bernalillo County Commission
  3. Campaigns
  4. Community Activism
  5. Democratic Party
  6. Fraternal Order of Police
  7. New Mexico Senate
  8. New Mexico Bar Association
  9. Newspaper Clippings
  10. Family/Personal Papers
  11. Transportation
  12. Memorabilia

Photographs Available Online

Selected family photographs are available via New Mexico's Digital Collections.

Related Archival Material

Friends of the North Golf Course Records Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Periodical issues transferred to CSWR general collection include: New Mexico Independent, Ape Sheet, Baptist New Mexican, NuCity, New Mexico Newspaper Directory, Book of Business Lists, Torch, Official Publication of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and Power Brokers.

Books transferred to UNMGL general collection: Cline, Dorothy I. Reorganization of the Executive Branch of State Government, New Mexico, 1975-1978, Larson, Martin A., Tax Revolt: U.S.A.!, 1973 New Mexico Municipal League. New Mexico Municipal Code, December 1975.

Master audio cassette, reel-to-reel, 45rpm record and DVD stored in B3.
Finding Aid of the Tom Rutherford Papers, 1823-2006
Edited Full Draft
T. S. Reinig
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