In January 2002, the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site signed an agreement with the library to house much of the Site’s research collection in the Special Collections & University Archives. The Site transferred hundreds of books and selected microfilms to the Archives and Special Collections as part of a joint project to develop a research collection on the Mexican War (1846–1848). The Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site is now the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park. The materials remain the property of the Park, but are cataloged as part of the University Library collection. Recently, both Palo Alto NHP and UTRGV Special Collections & University Archives have begun to add unique archival materials to the collection, and an MOU was signed in September of 2018 to work towards the creation of a Palo Alto Research Center, which will include rare and primary resources related to the Mexican American War and development of the National Historic Park, and offer interpretation of those materials, as well as other projects in the future.
The arrangement was established with the understanding that advantages will be created for both organizations. The agreement benefits the Park in that the materials, which include a number of antique and rare volumes, are protected in a monitored and climate controlled environment. The library, in turn, gains access to a wide range of important materials that supplement its existing collections. Nevertheless, it will be researchers of the Mexican War who will benefit the most from this partnership.
In the past, the Palo Alto Collection had largely been reserved for internal Park use, and the general public had only limited access. With the transfer of the collection to the Archives and Special Collections, these items have become available to library patrons on a daily basis. To date, the Park has transferred about half of its library holdings to its new home. The core of this collection consists of approximately 300 volumes from the collection of the Descendants of Mexican War Veterans. These books were donated to the Park in the summer of 2001. This organization has promised the donation of additional materials in the future. Other materials in the collection include newspapers from the time of the war reporting on the War from both the United States and Mexico, and archival materials, including broadsides, reports, and military documents related to the war and the National Park.
All parties involved in the partnership hope that the development of this unique partnership will inspire other individuals and groups to follow the lead of the Descendants of Mexican War Veterans and donate books, manuscripts, and war-related items to the Park or the Special Collections & Archives so that such materials may be included in this research collection. In time, the goal is to develop the Palo Alto Collection at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley into an important research center through a lasting partnership between the Park and the University.