Death and Dying in New Mexico

Death and Dying in New Mexico

Martina Will


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In this exploration of how people lived and died in eighteenth- and nineteenth- century New Mexico, Martina Will 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:
Martina Will is an assistant professor of history at Texas Woman's University, Denton. This is her first book.