Juarez Archives

By: Claudia Rivers

Type: General Entry

Published: March 1, 1995

The Archivo Municipal de Ciudad Juárez, also known as the Juárez Archives, contains the records of the municipal government of Ciudad Juárez. Ciudad Juárez was known as El Paso del Norte until 1889, and administered the largest population center in northern Chihuahua. The jurisdiction of El Paso del Norte included, until the Mexican War, much of the area now in El Paso County, Texas, and Doña Ana County, New Mexico. During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the jurisdiction included the settlements that grew up around missions and presidios founded in the area at Paso del Norte, Senecú, Socorro, Ysleta del Sur, and San Elceario (the spelling of which was later changed to San Elizario). These last three are located in areas now part of Texas. During the Mexican period, the town council, or ayuntamiento, of El Paso del Norte also had authority to make grants of land in the Mesilla valley of what is now New Mexico.

Previously housed at the Municipal Palace of Ciudad Juárez, the archives are now in that city's public library, the Biblioteca Municipal Arturo Tolentino. They contain documents dating from 1726 to 1970 and measuring approximately 12,000 linear feet. Since 1979, the AMCJ has been part of the Mexican Sistema Nacional de Archivos, administered by the Archivo General de la Nación, and, since 1991, the subject of a study sponsored by the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez. Unfortunately, many of the documents in the AMCJ have deteriorated, and access is limited due to space and staff shortages. The records contained in the AMCJ are not complete; besides the normal ravages of time in an extreme climate, there have been cases of deliberate theft and destruction. During the winter of 1846–47, United States troops with A. W. Doniphan's expedition destroyed many documents while they were housed in the Municipal Palace. Soldiers burned papers as kindling, and, whether through malice or ignorance, a number of land grant records were destroyed or lost.

The easiest means of access to the AMCJ is through microfilm copies available at the University of Texas at El Paso Library, the Archivo General de la Nación, and the Municipal Palace in Ciudad Juárez. Two filmings exist: Archivos del Ayuntamiento de Cd. Juárez, done between 1961 and 1964 as a cooperative project of UTEP and the Pan American Round Table; and Ciudad Juárez Municipal Archives, filmed in the early 1980s. No comprehensive guide to the archives exists, although the project sponsored by the University in Ciudad Juárez has published some inventories of the minutes of the city council, and plans to publish more aids.

The archives include documents that reflect the functioning of the municipal government, such as the minutes of the town and city councils, personnel and financial records, registers of land, and criminal reports. The records also contain a variety of other materials such as censuses, mining claims, brand registers, accounts of military activities, and the official state gazette, El Periódico Oficial del Estado de Chihuahua. Of particular interest to the history of Texas are early censuses of the towns of Ysleta, Socorro, and San Elizario, records of land transactions, and examples of international cooperation between the cities of Juárez and El Paso, Texas.

Jorge Chávez Chávez, El Archivo Municipal de Ciudad Juárez (Universidad Autónoma de Cd. Juárez, Unidad de Estudios Regionales, 1992). Mexico and the Southwest: Microfilm Holdings of Historical Documents and Rare Books at the University of Texas at El Paso Library (Special Collections Department, UT El Paso Library, 1984).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Claudia Rivers, “Juarez Archives,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 19, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/juarez-archives.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995