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Denise Chavez Papers

Identifier: MSS-361-BC

Scope and Content

The collection consists of the original donation (processed February 1981) and an addition. Included in the original donation are manuscripts of plays, 1972-1983, and newspaper clippings, flyers and programs. The addition (processed March 1995) contains a 1987 resume, newspaper clippings, flyers, programs, reviews, letters of support and publications relating to Denise Chavez' work as playwright, poet, author, actress and artist in residence. Also included are manuscripts dating from 1971-1987. An oversize folder contains posters relating to her work. There are no original photographs in the collection. Ms. Chavez writes in Spanish and English.


  • 1965-1987


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material 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

Denise Chávez was born August 15, 1948 in Las Cruces, New Mexico to Epifanio E. Chávez, a lawyer, and Delfina Rede Chávez, a teacher. She was drawn at an early age to the artistic qualities of bilingualism. The Mexican-American border area, her home, and community environment afforded Chávez the opportunity to appreciate the musicality of the spoken word in conversations, prayers, tales, and legends--a poetic speech that she soon identified as a potential means of literary re-creation. At Madonna High School in Mesilla, New Mexico, she took a theatre class and discovered that theatre was the creative means by which she could integrate the different aspects of her artistic inclinations. Chávez received a drama scholarship to New Mexico State University where she studied with Mark Medoff, author of the play Children of a Lesser God, and in 1971 she received a bachelor's degree in drama. She received a master of fine arts degree in drama in 1974 from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and had the experience of working in the Dallas Theatre Center. She continued her studies in drama and writing, and in 1984 received a master of arts degree in creative writing from the University of New Mexico.

Chávez has worked in the Artist-in-Residence Program in the New Mexico communities of Aztec, Socorro, Alamogordo (the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped), as well as in Carlsbad and Las Cruces. She taught at the Radium Springs Center for Women, where she helped to edit the women's newspaper and a poetry anthology, Life is a Two-Way Street. She taught play-writing at the College of Santa Fe and English composition and literature at Northern New Mexico Community College. She gives frequent workshops in writing, creative dramatics, and acting, as well as many readings from her work. She has worked as a writer-in-residence throughout New Mexico, most specifically with La Compañia de Teatro de Albuquerque, a bilingual theatre company, and Theatre-in-the-Red from Santa Fe. Seventeen of her plays have been produced throughout the United States including the Joseph Papp Festival of Latino Theatre in New York, and at the Edinburgh, Scotland Festival of the Arts. Chávez has taught at the American School in Paris. In 1988 she participated in a creative writing symposium in Moscow in which artists from the United States and the then Soviet Union exchanged ideas on contemporary art. Chávez has recently won the Premio Aztlán for her work Face of an Angel and presently teaches at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.


1 box (1 cu. ft.) + 1 oversize folder

Related Archival Material

David Dunaway Writing the Southwest Research and Recordings Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico
Finding Aid of the Denise Chávez Papers, 1965-1987
Processed by D. Trujillo
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 361 BC::Denise Chavez Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss361bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 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