University Libraries has begun work on a project to digitize songbooks and archival resources from the New Mexico Federal Music Project.  The project will be led by Amy Jackson, digital initiatives librarian and funded by the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board through the State Commission of Public Records – State Records Center and Archives, and the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections.

The Federal Music Project was established as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1935 and became the WPA music program from 1939 – 1943.  The goal of the project was to employ musicians on the relief rolls during the Great Depression.  The New Mexico project, under the direction of Helen Chandler Ryan, documented the Hispanic-American folk music traditions in New Mexico and provided music instruction to children from low income families.

The documents provide a valuable resource of Hispanic-American music traditions in the Southwest during the Great Depression and earlier.  This digitization project also corresponds with the 75th anniversary of the New Deal projects and programs as identified by the National New Deal Preservation Association and complements other New Deal exhibits presented by New Mexico cultural heritage museums.

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; e-mail: