In honor of Women’s History Month, the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections offers a series of five posts on collections that highlight important women and special collections. In this first post, from Nancy Brown Martinez, we celebrate African American women who appear in the archives of the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections (CSWR SPC). We are especially proud to salute UNM graduates:
Barbara Simmons, UNM, JD 1974, was the first UNM African American woman Law graduate. She also led the first Black Student Union at UNM and worked as a criminal defense attorney. She is the founder as well as current President of the UNM Alumni Association Black Alumni Chapter, which has established The UNM Black Alumni Chapter Oral Histories Collection. This collection documents experiences of ten of the first African American students on campus. Efforts are currently underway to add digitized video content from this collection in the New Mexico Digital Collection. In addition to interviews for Barbara Simmons, keep an eye out also for Angela J. Jewell, UNM, JD, 1979 and retired Albuquerque District Court Judge; and Rita Ann Turfley Powdrell, UNM BA 1968 and Director of the Board of the African-American Museum and Cultural Center, and owner of Mr. Powdrell's Barbecue House.
Also of interest are:
Shirley Ann Griffin-Martin, UNM BA, Criminal Justice 1992. While a work-study student in the UNM Fine Arts Library, Shirley Ann Griffin-Martin recorded Albuquerque African American programs in the 1980s to fill holes in the libraries’ collections. As she noted, “Music is key in all types of gatherings, reflecting the mood of and the reason for the occasion." Check out The Shirley Ann Griffin-Martin Collection of Recordings of Albuquerque African American Music and Programs, 1985-1988
Sandra Schackel, UNM BA 1979, PhD. 1988 who interviewed seventeen New Mexico women for her dissertation and later book called Social Housekeepers: Women Shaping Public Policy in New Mexico, 1920-1940. She donated the tapes of these interviews which comprise The Women in Social Services Oral History Collection, The collection includes interviews with three local African American women: Xenobia McMurray, who recounts founding and organizing the Eureka Matrons, one of the first Black women's clubs in Albuquerque; Florence Napoleon, who recounts her role in helping found the Winona Art and Study Club in Albuquerque; and Laura Webb who discusses her membership in the Home Circle Club, a Black women's organization designed for the self-improvement of young married women.
I just wanted to note that in the CSWR's section of the UNM Digital Repository there are additional materials for the Black Alumni Chapter Oral History Project. You can view the videos there also and download PDFs of the interview transcripts, all in one place!