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Frank Waters Papers

Identifier: MSS-332-BC

Scope and Content

The Frank Waters' papers consist primarily of literary manuscripts by and about Frank Waters, personal and professional correspondence, research materials, audio and video recordings featuring Waters, as well as personal journals, serial publications, etc. Boxes 29 and 30 contain oversized materials.

Waters' literary manuscripts comprise the first two series. The first series contains manuscripts, research files, correspondence and other materials related to specific published books. Not all titles contain all the above types of materials. Subseries, organized alphabetically, include: "Below Grass Roots," "Book of the Hopi," "Brave are My People," "Colorado," "Cuchama," "Diamond Head," "Dust within the Rock," "Earp Brothers," "Eternal Desert," "Flight from Fiesta," "Leon Gaspard," "Lizard Woman," "Man Who Killed the Deer," "Masked Gods," "Mexico Mystique," "Midas of the Rockies," "Mountain Dialogue," "People of the Valley," "Pikes Peak Saga," "Pumpkin Seed Point," "To Possess the Land" (about Arthur Rochford Manby), "The Woman at Otowi Crossing" (Edith Warner), and "Yogi of Cockroach Court.".

The second series encompasses shorter and unpublished works, including materials on Nicolai Fechin, Mexico's Barranca del Cobre, Black Mesa, typescripts and research materials pertaining to lectures, speeches, book reviews, testimonials, forewords, introductions, and the like, composed by Frank Waters.

The Research, Background Materials, Projects series contains articles, pamphlets, clippings, and notes relating to topics of interest to Frank Waters, but not necessarily pertaining to a specific publication. Research topics include Taos, Hopi Indians, Colorado history, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Mexico, etc.

Correspondence includes letters to and from Frank Waters, along with associated materials. General correspondence and correspondence from Frank Waters is filed chronologically, while correspondence with individuals and organizations is filed alphabetically

Personal materials include journals as well as honorary degrees, class notes, and miscellaneous materials.

Writings about Frank Waters consists of articles and typescripts by others relating to Waters and his works.

Journal Publications By and About Waters and His Work contains published journals with articles by or about Waters. In some instances, the published article is included rather than the entire publication.

Audio-Visual Materials contains audio cassettes and DVDs of interviews with Waters, readings by Waters, and a performance of "The Woman at Otowi Crossing."

Other Writings contains papers and theses given to Waters for his comments, review, or information. Included in this series are several early typescripts written by Mabel Dodge [Luhan].


  • 1892-1992


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

Frank Waters, writer and editor, was born July 25, 1902, at the foot of Pike's Peak, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His father, who was part Cherokee died when Frank was 12 years old. It was his father who initially sparked Frank's interest in Indian culture.

Waters attended Colorado College (Colorado Springs) from 1922-25 as an engineering student. He dropped out after his third year to take a job as a laborer in the Salt Creek, Wyoming oil fields. He later worked as an engineer for the Southern California Telephone Company on the Mexican border. Waters moved back to Colorado in 1935 to work on the second two volumes of his Colorado mining trilogy. He moved to New Mexico's Mora Valley in 1937, and relocated to Taos in 1938. When World War II broke out, he worked for the office of Inter-American Affairs, Washington, D.C., as a chief content officer and propaganda analyst. After the War, Waters returned to New Mexico and bought his home in Arroyo Seco. He was editor of El Crepusculo, a weekly Spanish-English newspaper (1949-1951); and book reviewer for the Saturday Review of Literature (1950-1956). Waters also held positions as information consultant for Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, New Mexico, and for the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, (1952-1956). He held a variety of other jobs, including writer for C.O. Whitney Motion Picture Co., Los Angeles (1957), writer-in-residence, Colorado State University, Fort Collins (1966); and director, New Mexico Arts Commission, Santa Fe, (1966-68).

Waters' first publication was a short story called, "How It Was Settled," published in 1916. He began publishing in earnest in the 1930s. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 25 books and numerous articles and short works. Thematically, many of his publications relate to the Southwest and Native American culture. Mayan cosmology, atomic physics, and taoism are other topics evident in Waters' works. Waters' style distinguishes between the popular Western and the novel of the Southwest. His revealing, stark descriptions of the Southwestern landscape and the story of human adaptation to the environment has turned People of the Valley and The Man Who Killed the Deer into classics. In addition to his popular and successful publications, Waters' historical novel, River Lady has been produced as a film (Universal International.) Articles by Waters have appeared in numerous periodicals and publications. Foreign translations are in languages including French and German.

Frank Waters died in New Mexico on June 3,1995 at the age of 92.


30 boxes (29.75 cu. ft.) + 1 oversize folder


The collection contains typescripts, correspondence, published materials, research files, audio and video recordings, and personal journals documenting the literary career of Frank Waters.


The collection is organized into the following series and subseries:
  1. BOOK MANUSCRIPTS AND RELATED MATERIALS: Subseries for each individual work
  2. ARTICLES, UNPUBLISHED WORKS, SHORT WORKS: Articles, Unpublished manuscripts; Forewords, Introductions, Prefaces; Blurbs, Testimonials, Book Reviews, Chapters; Lectures, Papers, Conferences, Speeches
  4. CORRESPONDENCE: General Annual Correspondence; Correspondence with Individuals and Organizations; Correspondence from Frank Waters

Related Archival Material

Oral History Interviews with Frank Waters Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Dorothy Brett Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Peggy Pond Church Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Frank Waters Correspondence and Contracts Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Myron Brinig Memoirs Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Ann Merrill correspondence from Frank Waters Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Writers at Work Videotapes Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico David Dunaway Writing the Southwest research and recordings Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Porter-Harvey Family Papers Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Dennis Dutton Letters and Correspondence Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Photographs have been transferred to the Frank Waters Pictorial Collection.

Published books have been catalogued for the CSWR general collection.

Issues of El Crepusculo, 1949-1951 will be found in the CSWR general collection.

Master audio and video materials stored in B3.

Processing Information

Collection was reprocessed and rearranged in April 2005. Folder titles have generally remained as they were before reprocessing

Video cassettes were reformatted to DVD in February 2008.

Inquire with reference staff for access to unprocessed additions (Jan. 2017), 29 boxes, B3-6A.
Finding Aid of the Frank Waters Papers 1892-1992
Processed by CSWR Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131