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New Mexico Blue Books
Biennial Reports of the Secretary of State
Biennial Reports of the State Comptroller
Biennial Reports of the Bureau of Revenue
and Other State Publications

From June 8, 1912 to April 16, 1923, the New Mexico Secretary of State was the official who had responsibility for motor vehicle registration and the issuance of license plates.  Consequently, it is in the records of the Secretary of State where much important and interesting information can be found for this period. Ever since the advent of statehood in 1912, and continuing to the present time, the offic of the Secretary of State has published a periodic (usually every two years) report called the New Mexico Blue Book.

This publication not only summarizes the work of the office during the respective period, but also reports county-by-county election results during that time period, and provides a thumbnail sketch of state’s history and a number of its important institutions, such as the New Mexico National Guard, various institutions of higher learning, special schools for the blind and deaf, the state hospital, and so forth.

The same office also published an even more detailed report called the Biennial Report of the Secretary of State, which in some cases contains statistical information on motor vehicle licensing which cannot be found in any other source.

On April 16, 1923, Motor vehicle licensing responsibility was transferred to the office of the State Comptroller, so beginning that date (and for a number of years thereafter), it is the Biennial Report of the State Comptroller where this very useful information is to be found. 

Bureau of Revenue Biennial Reports, especially those from the 1950s, contain some useful information on motor vehicle registrations which we have not seen in any other publications. The report for 1956-1958, which is illustrated below, is the source of one of the few known tables of county-by-county registration statistics. The table from this report is reproduced on our Registration Statistics page.

The New Mexico Transportation History Project has a number of the aforementioned books and reports in its library, but would like to add additional volumes. If you have any of the New Mexico Blue Books, Biennial Reports of the Secretary of State, or Biennial Reports of the State Comptroller that you would like to donate or sell to the NMTHP, please contact us.

Note: We are particularly in need of a copy of the Biennial Report of the State Comptroller for the Eleventh and Twelfth Fiscal Years (1923-1924). If you have a copy of this report you would like to donate, sell, or loan to the NMTHP, please contact us.
Other State Publications
Illustrated below are several examples of early state publications which contain historical information which often proves to be invaluable in the research and understanding of New Mexico’s history of motor vehicle registration, license plates, road building and other related subjects.

First Report of the State Engineer of New Mexico, July 12, 1912 to December 1, 1914. The State Engineer was the person in charge of planning and building New Mexico’s roads. This publication provides fascinating insight into the sorry condition of the state’s roads at the time, and the State’s plans to change that situation by building a first class highway system. This report contains the earliest known official state road map, showing that New Mexico was using a road numbering system a decade and a half before there was any national consensus to do so.

Message of Governor Arthur Seligman to the Eleventh Legislature of the State of New Mexico, January 11, 1933. This 14-page pamphlet reproduces Governor Seligman’s address to the legislature wherein, among many other things, he proposed that the legislature establish a centralized motor police patrol. The legislature followed through in that session by creating the New Mexico Motor Patrol, which was renamed as the New Mexico State Police two years later.

Report of the Attorney General of New Mexico, January 1, 1933 to December 31, 1934. A rather bizarre event came to light in 1932 when an apparent kickback scheme was discovered in connection with the purchase of the state’s 1932 license plates and related merchandise. The State Comptroller was accused of taking kickbacks from a salesman so that the manufacturer he represented would be granted a sole-source contract to supply the plates. The Comptroller was forced to resign, and the Attorney General filed suit against the salesman and the supplier in an attempt to recover the funds paid out by the state. This publication has a brief report on the lawsuit. A detailed account of the entire sordid saga, which dragged on for over two years, can be found in the book Early New Mexico License Plates.

Inauguration 1947. This pamphlet is the formal program for Thomas J. Mabry’s inauguration as Governor in January 1947. Its value lies in the fact that, aside from giving a brief biography of Mabry, the names of many important state officials, along with their titles, appear in the program.  Mabry’s 1947 Governor plate, incidentally, is one of several such plates illustrated on the Governor & Lt. Governor page of this site.

There are undoubtedly many more state publications from the early years which document various aspects of New Mexico license plate history. If you have any that you would like to donate or sell to the New Mexico Transportation History Project, please contact us.


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