Border Heritage Center
The El Paso Public Library’s Border Heritage Center was formed in 1995 by combining three major collections – Southwest, Genealogy, and Raza – into one area of the Main Library. The purpose of the Center is to enhance the quality of life of El Pasoans and others by collecting, preserving, and making available information about the history and culture of the residents of El Paso and the surrounding Southwest region.
Archive Online Collections
The Border Heritage Center holds over 70 archival collections that relate to the history and culture of El Paso, Southwest Texas, and Northern Mexico.
These collections include the Trost & Trost architectural firm, the Eliot Shapleigh Papers, the Hal Marcus Papers, Jose Cisneros Collection, the Peter DeWetter Collection, the Aultman Photograph Collection, the City of El Paso Collection, and many others!
The archives hold a variety of items including glass and film negatives, architectural drawings, rare books, photographs, scrapbooks, maps, political papers, business documents, postcards, yearbooks, film reels, manuscripts, and other ephemera. The Center also holds historical items like a copy of the Treaty of Velasco, a 1799 newspaper with an article on the death of President George Washington, maps from the 1800’s to the present, and much more!
In 2018, the Border Heritage Center was awarded grant funds from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and Texas State Library and Archives Commission to digitize a portion of the Historical Maps Collection. A total of 67 maps were digitized and made available online.
For More information, please call 915-212-0355.
The El Paso Public Library began collecting and preserving materials on the history and culture of the Southwest (west Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and northern Chihuahua of Mexico) as early as 1902. Among other things, the collection includes vertical files on local and regional topics, Southwest periodicals, the El Paso Times and El Paso Herald-Post newspapers and other regional serials on microfilm/fiche, historical maps, and a high school yearbook collection. The Southwest Collection includes both reference and circulating materials.
The Genealogy Collection holds resources related to family history research. Genealogy guides and manuals, U.S. region-specific books, sources relating to specific ethnicities and heritages, vital record indexes, census records, cemetery records, city directories, and a wide variety of genealogy publications are included. The entire Genealogy Collection is reference material and is not available for circulation
The RAZA Collection was inspired by the Chicano pride movement of the 1970’s and continues to -document the history, culture, and literary works of Mexican Americans. Used both for research and recreational reading, the collection continues to grow and is particularly strong in poetry and fiction. Both Reference and circulating materials are available.
The Main Branch continues to be closed to in-person visits for research and/or to browse materials. However, BHC staff is available to assist remotely with research and digital reproduction requests.
To request assistance or to speak with staff regarding BHC collections, the BHC reference desk is open to calls Monday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Please feel free to email the Border Heritage Center directly if preferable.
Phone: 915-212-3218 Email: LibBorder@elpasotexas.gov
BHC does not charge a research fee, however, any copies requested are $1.00 per page.
Digital scans of collection photographs, architectural drawings, and maps are available at an associated cost. Total cost is entirely dependent on the number of items requested, resolution size requested, purpose of materials (e.g. publication) and patron status. Please contact BHC to request a copy of the library’s photograph and architectural drawing request form(s).
All research/reproduction fees must be paid before copies and scans are provided by email. Payments may be made online via the library’s SmartPay application, found here, or by check. Checks must be mailed to the address found below, to the attention of the Border Heritage Center.
Mailing Address: 501 N. Oregon St., El Paso, TX 79901