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Tony Hillerman Papers

Identifier: MSS-501-BC

Scope and Content

The Tony Hillerman Papers consist of literary manuscripts, correspondence, published materials and lecture notes. The collection is divided into five series, Novels, Nonfiction, Correspondence, Teaching Materials, and Miscellaneous.

Literary manuscripts include drafts, revisions and edited manuscripts for all of Hillerman's published novels, as well as page proofs and screenplays for some titles. Related research materials and correspondence with agents and publishers regarding revisions and editing is located with the respective manuscripts. Manuscripts, drafts and editorial correspondence for Hillermans nonfiction works, 1964-82, are found in the Nonfiction series.

The Correspondence series contains letters from agents and publishers concerning contracts and various publishing projects. General correspondence, arranged chronologically, includes requests for appearances, book signings, conference participation and lectures; some personal letters and a considerable amount of fan mail. This series consists almost entirely of letters received by Hillerman, as he did not regularly keep copies of letters sent.

The teaching materials indicate Hillerman's classroom style and the topics that he emphasized as a journalism professor who also taught some creative writing classes. This series also contains files about workshops and conferences that Hillerman participated in. Articles about Hillerman are located in the Miscellaneous series. The bulk of the miscellaneous material consists of copies of manuscripts by other authors that Hillerman was asked to read.

Additions to the collection begin in Box 12. These include similar materials to the initial collection, but generally, of a more recent nature.


  • 1964-1996


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

Tony Hillerman, writer and teacher, was born May 27, 1925 in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma. He grew up in the rural community and attended the only local grade school, a Catholic school for girls. When the United States entered World War II, Hillerman joined the army and served for two years in Europe. He returned to Oklahoma and received a BA from the University of Oklahoma in 1946.

He worked as a newspaper reporter in Texas and Oklahoma until he became UPI's Santa Fe Bureau Manager in 1952. In 1954 he joined the staff of the New Mexican as a political reporter and later became an editor. He came to the University of New Mexico as a graduate student in English in 1962 and also worked as an assistant to President Popejoy. Hillerman received his MA in 1966 and became a professor of journalism, serving as department chair 1967-74. Taking a leave from teaching, he served as assistant to President Davis, 1975-77. During that period he worked toward the establishment of the Faculty Senate and helped Davis sort out an athletic department scandal, popularly known as lobogate. He retired from teaching in 1986.

Hillerman's journalism career influenced his later writing. His style, clear and direct, produced beautiful and vivid descriptions of the stark Southwestern landscape. His first novel, The Blessing Way, was published by Harper & Row in 1970. The University of New Mexico Press published a collection of stories, five of them from Hillerman's masters thesis, under the title, The Great Taos Bank Robbery, 1972. In addition to the popular and successful Navajo mystery series of novels (the tenth title in the series was published in 1990), Hillerman wrote texts for photograph and travel books on New Mexico and the Southwest. Articles by Hillerman have appeared in New Mexico Quarterly, New Mexico Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Arizona Highways and other magazines.


18 boxes

Manuscripts Available Online

Visit the Tony Hillerman Portal for digital content and other resources.

Related Archival Materials

Anne Hllerman Papers Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Libraries.

Separated Material

Photographs have been transferred to the Tony Hillerman Photograph Collection.

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Hieb, Louis. Tony Hillerman: From The Blessing Way To Talking God, A Bibliography. Tucson: Press of the Gigantic Hound, 1990.

Processing Information

Inquire with reference staff for access to an unprocessed addition of 38 boxes, B3-2B. A partial description of the general contents of the unprocessed boxes follows: Box 20: documents; Box 21: books; Boxes 22 and 23: magazines; Box 24: documents and contracts; Boxes 25, 26, 38 (added 11/30/22): artifacts; Box 27: VHS tapes; Box 28: Misc. folders, album/clippings; Box 29: Hillerman books published in various languages.
Finding Aid of the Tony Hillerman Papers, 1964-1996
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

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 501 BC::Tony Hillerman Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss501bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 2021-05-24: 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