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Mildred Tolbert Papers

Identifier: MSS-479-BC

Scope and Content

This collection consists of the accumulated papers of writer and photographer Mildred Tolbert 1932 - 1989. The core of the collection is her letters and correspondence, which also include some of her own letters to her daughters and to her parents, and her collection of manuscripts and photographic art work. Photographs have been transferred to Photo Archives.

Tolbert's collection is a very complete set of papers, both in her correspondence as well as in her literary and photographic art work. Except for the correspondence with publishers and literary critics, which had been censored by Mildred Tolbert prior to arrival at the University of New Mexico, it reflects struggles, defeats and victories of a class conscious artist, wife, and mother who tried to make her way from a small Texas town upbringing to recognized success in the fine arts. The collection is important in the efforts to reconstruct the life and times of the Taos art colony. The collection also reflects the local Albuquerque metropolitan writers scene, and compliments other personal papers in the Center for Southwest Research, including Carol Berge, Arden Tice, Judson Crews. This collection, along with other related collections, will assist a researcher in recreating and evaluating the literary scene in New Mexico.


  • 1932-1989


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.


Mildred Tolbert was born in 1919 and brought up on a Panhandle ranch near Pampa, Texas. She and her two sisters, Burton and Frances, graduated from high school in Pampa (Mildred graduated in 1936). In 1947 Mildred married Judson Crews, a poet and printer from Waco, Texas (now residing in Albuquerque) and they lived for many years in Taos where they subsequently brought up their two daughters, Carole and Anna Bush. After separation from her husband in 1972, and eventual divorce in 1979, she resumed the use of her family name. During the 1950s she worked as a free-lance photographer in Taos. Until the death of her father, Weimar S. Tolbert, in 1985 she resided again in Pampa, yet maintained her home in Taos and made frequent visits to her northern New Mexico home. She has three grandchildren, Ariana and Edwina McLoughlin, and Sohrab Wilson.

Mildred Tolbert, who since the 1970s devoted much of her time to writing, was exposed to various artistic and literary influences. Judson Crews, Wendell Anderson, and Robert Creeley, in different ways, furthered her artistic abilities in the earlier years, while Harvena Richter, daughter of Conrad Richter, was supportive and helpful in later years. Traveling in Europe and Africa certainly influenced her creative style as did living in Taos in the early 1950s which acquainted her with many artists such as Dorothy Brett, Andrew Dasburg, Mabel Dodge Luhan, and others.

The immediate value of the collection based on the completeness of Tolbert's correspondence and art work (photographs and manuscripts) is the insight into the artist's life. No less important, though, is the collection's high merit as a supplementary source to the understanding of the Taos and Santa Fe art colonies and the metropolitan Albuquerque writers circle, due to her marriage to and friendship with Judson Crews. Both Tolbert and Crews were very prolific in putting thoughts and events on art and artists in general, and writing in particular, onto paper.

Writing and publishing is of major importance to Tolbert. In her own words, her main interest is "the psychology or artistic creativity, the artistic personality." Tolbert published many non-fiction essays in various journals about art and artists with whom she has associated in Taos, New York, and other places.

In 1969, at age 50, she received a B.A. degree in English from the University of Houston, where she studied literary criticism with James V. Baker. Mildred Tolbert died at her home in Ranchos de Taos, NM on January 22, 2008.


5 boxes (4.5 cu. ft.)

Related Archival Material

Judson C. Crews Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico. Arden Tice Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico. Carol Bergé Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico. Wendell B. Anderson and Emily F. Anderson Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico.

Separated Material

Photographs have been transferred to Mildred Tolbert Photograph Collection

In November 2017, publications were transferred out of the collection for cataloguing.


These files were initially found in an addition to Judson Crews Papers, MSS 340, but more appropriately belong in this collection.

Processing Information

In November 2017, publications were transferred out of the collection for cataloguing. At this time, remaining boxes were consolidated. In February 2018, materials were added to the collection. These materials came from an addition to Judson Crews papers, but more appropriately belong in this collection.
Finding aid of the Mildred Tolbert Papers, 1932-1989
For Approval
Processed by B. Silbergleit, Addition processed by: J. Brzosko
©2000; ©2017; ©2018
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 479 BC::Mildred Tolbert Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss479bc.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