History •  Southwest and Religion

$34.95 hardcover

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Death and Dying in New Mexico

Martina Will de Chaparro

In this exploration of how people lived and died in eighteenth- and nineteenth- century New Mexico, Martina Will de Chaparro weaves together the stories of individuals and communities in this cultural crossroads of the American Southwest. The wills and burial registers at the heart of this study provide insights into the variety of ways in which death was understood by New Mexicans living in a period of profound social and political transitions.

This volume addresses the model of the good death that settlers and friars brought with them to New Mexico, challenges to the model's application, and the eventual erosion of the ideal. The text also considers the effects of public health legislation that sought to protect the public welfare, as well as responses to these controversial and unpopular reforms. Will discusses both cultural continuity and regional adaptation, examining Spanish-American deathways in New Mexico during the colonial (approximately 1700-1821), Mexican (1821-1848), and early Territorial (1848-1880) periods.


Martina Will de Chaparro is assistant professor of history, Texas Woman's University, Denton. This is her first book.


". . . an unexpected, absorbing, and illuminating discourse about New Mexico's deathways."


Santa Fe New Mexican

"A good resource for understanding death customs and their residual social and landscape expressions."


Choice Magazine

" Death and Dying in New Mexico . . . leads the reader through a fascinating exploration of burial registers, wills, and court records that reveal the model of a 'good death' in 18th- and 19th-century New Mexico."


Texas Books in Review

"This book is an excellent study that should be useful to many audiences. It is well researched, engagingly written, and full of interesting detail and anecdote."


Western Historical Quarterly

"Martina Will de Chaparro's admirable study....will interest scholars and students of colonial Latin America, the Southwest, and popular religion."


Hispanic American Historical Review

Published in association with the Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University

6 x 9 in. 288 pages 21 halftones, 4 charts