CSWR Resource Guide

A guide to the resources housed at the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections

CSWR Vertical Files

The CSWR Vertical Files consist of newspaper clippings, brochures, maps, and other ephemera on selected topics related to New Mexico. The Vertical files might be a good place to start when first setting out on researching a topic, or for researchers interested in local newspaper coverage of persons, places, and events in New Mexico history. Like the CSWR manuscript, book, and pictorial collections, the vertical files are also themselves a historical object. The product of decades of clipping and filing, the vertical files reflect newspapers, magazines, and other published and unpublished materials that CSWR staff have thought worth making available over the years. 

While some vertical file topic headings have two or three file folders of material associated with them, others might only have a few newspaper clippings or a single tourist map. Given the amount of material in the collection and the fact that materials continue to be added the files, the contents of the files for each topic are not indexed. This means that the only way to find out for sure what exactly is in a given vertical file is to look through it. 


Note! The search function on the vertical files page is a dedicated function and will only show results from the collected vertical files. 

Searching the CSWR Vertical Files

From the CSWR homepage (http://library.unm.edu/cswr/), click on the Vertical Files option in the menu on the left. 

To the best of my knowledge, using the search function built in to the CSWR website is the only way to search the vertical file collection. 

Important note: the CSWR's vertical files are a physical collection that has not been digitized. Users can search for specific terms and browse the headings, but the materials contained within the files are only available to consult in the CSWR's Anderson Reading Room. Creating digital scans of vertical file materials is a possibility. For more information and the fee schedule for scanning, please contact CSWR staff. 

After selecting Vertical Files from the menu on the left side of the CSWR homepage, users will see a search dialogue with the option to match whole words only. The vertical files are largely organized by peoples' names (and sometimes occupations), place names, and general topics (like "mining," "health," or "theatre").

In this example I've searched for the word "uranium" and gotten several results, including a file on Stella Dysart, a businesswoman associated with uranium, nuclear energy in New Mexico, and uranium mining. 

Using broad search terms can often bring up material that one might not find otherwise because the search function also looks for subheadings on each file. 

Note: like the rest of the CSWR's archival collections, the vertical files mostly have to do with people, places, and events in New Mexico. The materials contained in folders with very broad headings like "health" or "dancing," will generally reflect those topics as they relate to New Mexico. 

An important note: topic organization in the vertical files runs from broad to more specific. In this case, there are several sub-headings under the umbrella term "dancing" that collect material on specific dance styles (such as Ballet or Flamenco) or dances associated with particular groups of people (such as Apache, Hopi, or Navajo.) The search function will return all of these results with the term "dancing." On the other hand, using the search term "Apache" would return the file "Dancing - Native American - Apache - Mountain Spirits" along with all other files whose headings contain the word "Apache."



While in many cases users will have some terms or headings in mind when searching the vertical files, the collection also allows for browsing. This mimics opening up the filing cabinet in which the files are stored and flipping through them. Spending a few minutes browsing the vertical files can help users get a better sense of how they are organized, making searching for particular topics a bit less time-consuming. Like I showed on the previous tab, the headings go from broad down to more specific. 


Once users have found files that look promising, the vertical files page also allows for requesting that those files be pulled. To request folders, simply check the boxes next to the headings, and then click "Request." 

To finish requesting materials, simply fill in the form that comes up. 

Important! When requesting vertical files (and other CSWR materials), users should make sure to include their first and last names. This helps avoid confusion in the reading room when patrons come to consult the materials they have had pulled. Vertical files can also be requested in the Anderson Reading Room with a paper slip. Ask the archivist on duty for more details!