Error 404: When the information you are looking for cannot be found

My intention with my previous post was to avoid legitimating my exploration of El Paso history (for myself and for others) because the importance of local history should be obvious. Luckily, though, I continue to find my quest for El Pasohistory validated. Case in point: today, while volunteering at the El Paso County Historical Society’s (EPCHS) Burges House, I met a young woman requesting information on Canutillo, TX. The search she had just conducted at the Main Branch of the El Paso Public Library had not returned enough information. While she was pleased with what she found in EPCHS’s holdings (mostly maps), it still left her with much to be desired. This prompted me to ask myself why there’s such an absence of photographs, articles and correspondences from, about or relating to Canutillo.To many, especially to those unfamiliar with this small town, this question may seem unnecessary. But is something (or some place) that often escapes our attention or fails to achieve mass-recognition inherently unnecessary? Furthermore, should any town, no matter how small, lack such basic, personal records as the year it was founded, by whom it was founded, or the meaning and/or significance of its name? And is this information unavailable because it is not public record or was it simply not recorded?

History, no matter how marginal it may at first seem, is important to someone. And each history, regardless of whether we can discern it’s present contribution to the local, national or international atmosphere, is worthy of being recorded in an effort to honor those who shaped that area’s history, and to serve those who continue live in and foster that community. It is not for me to say to whom the responsibility of recording local history should fall—though I think I may have insinuated in my previous post that we should all feel compelled engage with history—but we, and specifically those living in Canutillo, should be grateful to their compatriots, like the young lady I assisted today, who take it upon themselves to uncover, preserve, restore and record absent histories.

Rebekah Grado is a Research Volunteer at the El Paso County Historical Society.

Since 1954 the El Paso County Historical Society has been a driving force in the historic scene of El Paso. EPCHS strives to foster research into the history of the El Paso area; acquire and make available to the public historic materials; publish and encourage historical writing pertaining to the area; and to develop public consciousness of our rich heritage.