- Associated Press - Friday, June 19, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A state agency responsible for archiving New Mexico’s past is worried some of the state’s historic material dating back to the region’s Spanish rule may end up for sale online.

The New Mexico Commission of Public Records recently issued a warning that the sale of state public records is illegal. The warning comes after officials noticed some documents being sold online.

New Mexico has lost many of historical documents from Spanish, Mexico and territorial periods to private collectors, state officials said. “The disappearance of government records into private hands deprives the public of access to important historical information that helps us to understand the history our state and our nation,” the agency said.

In addition, the Albany, New York-based Council of State Historical Records Coordinators issued a statement requesting eBay’s assistance in alerting its customers to the illegal sale of historic public documents from all 50 states.

New Mexico State Records Administrator Linda Trujillo told The Associated Press that officials are not aware of any new cases of state records appearing for sale on online but they have discovered some in the past.

“We don’t want state public documents to inadvertently end up in the wrong hands,” Trujillo said. “We just wanted to put this out as a warning and a reminder.”

A search Friday on eBay showed that the online auction site had a number of historical documents connected to New Mexico for sale. One seller posted a 1968 U.S. Cavalry Equipment document from Fort Sumner, New Mexico, related to the Indian Wars. Another seller had handwritten letters sent in 1903 from the Dawson, New Mexico, Mining Company to a resident in a ghost town.

Many public documents are passed down from family members who don’t know they shouldn’t be sold online, Trujillo said. Other times, the documents are stolen by former state employees or researchers who take the documents when workers aren’t looking, she said.

During the last legislative session, state archives officials told lawmakers the New Mexico Commission of Public Records was grossly underfunded and aging state documents were in dire need of more protection.

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Follow Russell Contreras at http://twitter.com/russcontreras

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