Librarian Katherine McMahon, Riechmann, and writer Howard Bryan at the Albuquerque Library, ca. 1980. Negative No. HP.2015.31.26

Researching in the Photo Archives

Researchers use the photo archives to explore aspects of New Mexico history and regional histories or to do original research on historic photography and photographers. They may also be looking for photographic images to support projects from books and brochures to documentary films.

Please call or email us with specific questions concerning photo archives holdings, research, and image reproduction.

Search from Home

New Mexico Digital Collections is often a great way to begin exploring our vast collections. Thumbnails for thousands of popular and frequently requested images are already posted. Searching and browsing the catalog will introduce you to the kinds of material collected at the archives, and the digitized collections will help you answer many broad research questions.

Not everything is digitized. We also contribute text-based descriptions (finding aids) of some of our holdings to New Mexico Archives Online

Our digitized collections and archival descriptions only cover a portion of our holdings, so keep checking back.


We can respond to some focused research questions via email. If you have questions that would take more than a half hour to research or respond to, we recommend scheduling a research appointment or hiring a contract researcher to visit the archives.

Making Research Appointments

There is no charge to work with photo archives staff using the subject file index to the collection, which provides access to approximately 150,000 images. Additionally, archives staff may provide up to one hour of research assistance on site if researchers need to explore additional, unindexed holdings in our collection.

Appointments are available between 9 am and 4 pm Monday through Friday and must be made in advance. Assistance from staff depends on their schedules and workloads. When you contact us to schedule a research appointment, please describe the nature and scope of your project, your deadline, and what kinds of materials you are looking for.


As a general rule, the photo archives does not allow patrons to scan or digitally photograph material on site. Exceptions may be made for significant, collaborative digitization projects planned in advance. If you find something during your research that isn’t in the digital collections, you can order image files or prints.

Books about Photography

In addition to our photographic collections, we also have books and periodicals on and about photography. These materials cannot be removed from the archives but can be read during research appointments. For titles, search our catalogued holdings via DCA's Library Consortium catalog.

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