The Role of the New Mexico State Historian

On Sunday, August 20, 2023, Rob Martinez, state historian of New Mexico since 2019, presented a program about what the state historian does, how it is done, as well as when, where and why. Topics such as public history and academic history was discussed, as well as the broader scope of what historians do, necessary skills, and what their role is in society. Recent challenges to historiography will be presented, and possible directions for the role of the state historian to move forward. The program was held at the Albuquerque Museum at 2000 Mountain Rd. NW in Old Town.

Photo of the NM SRCA building
New Mexico State Records Center and Archives in Santa Fe


Photo of Rob MartinezRob Martínez is a native New Mexican born and raised in Albuquerque. A graduate of the University of New Mexico with a B.B.A. in International Business Management, Rob then went on to pursue his interest in New Mexican culture and history at U.N.M., earning an M.A. in Latin American history, with an emphasis on church, cultural, and social practices of the Spanish Colonial period in New Mexico.

During his tenure as a graduate student, he was a research assistant for four years at the Vargas Project, learning research skills and paleography, abilities that would serve him well as a historian. Upon graduating, Rob pursued a teaching license and also worked for fourteen years as a research historian for the Sephardic Legacy Project, scouring civil and church archives in New Mexico, Mexico, Spain, France, Italy, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, analyzing documents for a research and publishing project about the Crypto-Jewish phenomenon in New Mexico and the Caribbean.

Rob has presented papers and lectures on his research at the University of New Mexico, as well as history conferences throughout the southwestern United States. He has also spoken to historical groups in New Mexico such as the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico, the Albuquerque Historical Society, and the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies about research methodology, unique findings, New Mexico Hispanic culture, and general History of New Mexico. Rob was a teacher at Rio Rancho High School for ten years, educating young New Mexicans about World History, New Mexico History, and Language Arts. Before becoming state historian in 2019, he was deputy state historian for six years at the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives.

Rob has published articles on New Mexico history, genealogy and culture in periodicals as diverse as the New Mexico Historical Review, Herencia: The Quarterly Journal of the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center, IMAGEN Magazine, Tradición Revista, and the New Mexico Genealogist.

Finally, Rob is also a folk musician, performing and promoting New Mexican Hispanic musical traditions for the past twenty years with his brother Lorenzo and their father Roberto Martinez in the group Los Reyes de Albuquerque. With his musical family, Rob has performed in all parts of New Mexico, and on multiple occasions has presented music and New Mexican culture at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, D.C., the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowship Awards, and also at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Photo of the NM OSH office
Physical Office of the NM State Historian