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Frances Léon Quintana Papers

Identifier: MSS-768-BC

Scope and Content

Frances Léon Quintana's collection consists of papers and publications by Quintana and other scholars whose work she used to inform her own. It also contains general correspondence with various institutions and colleagues, as well as correspondence and other materials regarding particular projects she participated in throughout her career. Additionally, the collection includes personal information such as curriculum vitae, autobiographical statements, job descriptions and evaluations, grievance documentation, as well as grant proposals, project reports, ethnographic field diaries, project papers, lecture notes, petitions, statements, testimonies, and news clippings. The collection is divided into 6 series. The first two series, Life Works and General Correspondence provide an overall historical background on the life of Frances Léon Quintana and her work. The Projects series is the largest of the series encompassing the major projects Quintana worked on and which contributed to her dissertation and future publications. The series, Historical and Sociopolitical Interests and Involvement, provides a good sense of Quintana's political standpoint as well as her involvement with Hispanic and Indian civil and cultural rights and land claims.

Several papers, publications, and correspondence are in Spanish.

Life Works This series is divided into three subseries that outline Frances Quintana's history, interests, and engagement in anthropological research and teaching. The first subseries consists of personal information including a curriculum vitae, autobiographical and biographical papers, and material concerning the graduate fellowship in anthropology she established, and photographs. Subseries two is comprised of papers she presented and published on the different projects she partook in or led throughout her career. Topics of papers include the Alianza and Reies Lopez Tijerina, land grants, the H.E.L.P. and Rancho de Carnue projects, as well as her graduate papers and correspondence, reviews, and clippings about her book Los Primeros Pobladores. and Ordeal of Change. The third subseries holds material such as lecture invitations, syllabi and lecture notes on New Mexico history, culture change and cultural relations, photography as an ethnographic tool, anthropology and illness, and minority education.

General Correspondence This series contains correspondence between Quintana and various scholars and colleagues from 1963 to 1999. Topics of correspondence include the American Anthropological Association and the Applied Anthropology meetings, an invitation to teach at Antioch College in 1971, publication of articles and her thesis,The Southern Utes and their Neighbors, her doctoral dissertation research, and reviews of books to be published. The series also includes communications with Russell Bernard about publication of the volumes,Otomí Ethnography, Jim Clifton, Joe Jorgenson, and Richard Clemmer concerning Ute studies and publications, and Renato Rosaldo regarding the paper, "Chicanos in Anthropology." "Sensitive" correspondence is restricted and requires special permission for access.

Laboratory of Anthropology, Museum of New Mexico This series contains information regarding Quintana's employment. It contains correspondence about and the history and plan for the Lab of Anthropology, Quintana’s evaluations and job description, and well as grant proposals and news clippings. Of particular interest are the grievance procedures Dr. Quintana went through in 1976 and 1978, project proposals for the exhibits "My Land, My People," "Los Moros y Los Cristianos," and "Our Hispanic Living Heritage."

Projects This is the largest series, which is divided into six subseries pertaining to projects Quintana participated in as an ethnographer. The first subseries pertains to traditional Hispanic music for which Dr. Quintana collected historical and ethnographic information through interviews with Hispanic families. The second subseries, the Tri-Ethnic project is one of the most important projects she partook in. The project concerned the intercultural contact and relations of Ute, Hispanic, and Anglo families within a northern New Mexico-Colorado community. Quintana, along with Omer Stewart focused on Spanish-Ute relations from initial contact in the early 17th century through the twentieth century. She combined archival research relating to community formations, kinship, genealogies, and land grants with what she called “living history" — the recollections and traditions of elderly people who could recount the types of relations that existed between the Spanish and the Utes. It was from this project that Quintana's doctoral dissertation developed. Planning materials, correspondence mainly from Omer C. Stewart concerning ethnographic material gathered, a participant list, photographic data, and notes by Dr. Quintana are included. Most of the data from this project, particularly Dr. Quintana’s field diaries are restricted, requiring special permission for access. Restricted material also includes proposal and planning documents, an unpublished paper by Dr. Quintana, field reports and data samples. The third subseries is comprised of documents on the Home Education Livelihood Program (H.E.L.P.) for which Dr. Quintana served as ethnologist-evaluator from 1968-1973. Materials present are the research design and proposal, correspondence, reports, and resulting papers by others. Papers by Quintana on the project are found in the Life Works series. Field diaries and project reports are restricted and require special permission for access. The fourth subseries pertains to the Office of Economic Opportunity (O.E.O), a project designed to create an instrument that would effectively assess attitudes toward the poor. Quintana served as an education and consumer affairs specialist for this project. Materials include correspondence, news clippings and a final publication written by James Petersen. The fifth subseries on the Las Vegas, New Mexico ethnohistorical and archeological project focuses on documentation and findings on sociocultural change. Materials include research design draft, project correspondence, community demographics and reports, and maps and photographs of the infrastructure of the community. The final subseries concerns projects undertaken at Tijeras, and Villanueva, containing a discussion paper on the historical finds, a social impact assessment proposal, correspondence, field notes and interviews with residents of village of Tijeras, an archeological paper and reports, as well as news clippings regarding the excavation. Also included in this subseries are some notes, plans, a sketch, and photographs pertaining to the Villanueva bridge project.

Historical and Sociopolitical Interests and Involvement This series reflects Dr. Quintana’s involvement with historico-political matters. It is divided into four subseries the first of which contains material on Hispano and Native American history and culture, consisting mainly of notes, clippings, and archival material on colonial Indian relations. This subseries also contains material on contemporary issues of health and disease among Hispanos, their experiences with the medical system, and information on environmental concerns and social impact. The second subseries concerns the Alianza Federal de Pueblos Libres and Reies Tijerina. This material dates from 1966-1988 and contains correspondence regarding the organization and Tijerina; correspondence with various funding institutions to conduct a study of the organization and its struggle; reports and testimonies on behalf of the Alianza and Tijerina; and news clippings about Tijerina’s court cases. Here can also be found a small amount of information, mainly the manual and constitution, of La Raza Unida Party of New Mexico. The third subseries contains material on New Mexico land grants including correspondence, notes, related publications, and archival material pertaining to various land grants. The final subseries is on the Indian Civil Rights Bill and contains petitions, statements and testimonies by Dr. Quintana and other scholars, the ACLU, and different Pueblo members and representatives from 1969-1977. There is also information on the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project that took place in 1977.

Publications Written by Others This series represents a collection of scholarly material Dr. Quintana used in the various projects she was involved in, as well as issues that were of great importance to her. Topics of publications vary from New Mexico history to the U.S.-Mexico border, migrant workers, education and bilingual and multicultural representation, as well as publications on culture change and revitalization.


  • 1705-2012
  • Majority of material found within 1960-1999


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Access to ethnographic or informant data is restricted to academic researchers, with the written approval of the Director of the Center for Southwest Research, on the condition that researchers agree not to divulge the true names or identities of the persons with whom the records are concerned in any written work, oral report, or any other release to the public. Researchers will sign a consent form agreeing to the above conditions. Access to this material by others will be at the discretion and written authorization of Joel Swadesh or his designee. This restriction expires in 2050.

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

Frances Webster Léon was born on August 6, 1917 in Irvington, New York. In 1940 at the age of 23, she married Morris H. Swadesh. Their marriage lasted until 1958, but she continued to use the surname Swadesh until 1978 when she married Miguel F. Quintana. Thereafter she published under the name Frances Léon Quintana.

Quintana completed her high school education at the International School of Geneva in 1933, after which she entered Vassar College to train as a teacher of French. She quickly discovered anthropology and became interested in Mayan artistic achievements, which catapulted her into the field of anthropology. In 1936, Quintana received the opportunity to conduct archeological field research at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico where her interactions exposed her to contemporary Navajo culture and the Quechua indigenous culture of Peru. As a result of her experiences at Chaco Canyon, Quintana realized that her passion lay in ethnography and planned for her graduate work in the Andean area of Quechua-Aymara populations. To enrich her anthropological education, Quintana volunteered at the American Museum of Natural History where she worked on a large Peruvian textile collection. She considered becoming a textile specialist but her museum mentor, Wendell Bennett, urged her to go to Yale and study under Edward Sapir. Following his advice Quintana went to Yale University in 1938 on a one year graduate fellowship where she studied with Edward Sapir. Most impressed by his advocacy for direct fieldwork and his belief in treating cultures as co-equals, Quintana embraced Sapir's teachings and utilized them to guide her future work and methodological approaches. After Sapir died, Quintana went to the Instituto Politécnico in Mexico City where she continued her linguistics studies with Sapir's former student Dr. Morris Swadesh. Under his auspices Quintana began working as a teacher of reading and writing in Tarascan and Otomí indigenous communities of Mexico until 1940, at which time the newly elected Mexican president put an end to the Indian literacy projects. In that same year Quintana and Swadesh also married. In 1941, after the Pearl Harbor attack, they returned to the United States, where Morris Swadesh enlisted in the Army and Frances Quintana settled down to raise a family. After the war, Quintana joined and assisted Swadesh in his fieldwork trips, typing and editing his manuscripts. However, it was not until the early 1960s that she resumed her graduate studies at the University of Colorado. There, she joined the Tri-Ethnic Project as a research assistant from 1960-1963, and conducted field and archival research on Spanish-Ute-Anglo relations in southern Colorado, analyzing intercultural contact and influence between Southern Utes and southwestern Spanish populations from the 17th century to the early 20th century. Her research for the Tri-Ethnic Project resulted in her 1962 M.A. thesis, The Southern Utes and Their Neighbors and directly contributed to her doctoral dissertation,Hispanic Americans of the Ute Frontier, which she completed in 1966.

From 1968-1973 Dr. Quintana served as ethnologist-evaluator for the Home Education Livelihood Program (H.E.L.P.), sponsored by the Museum of New Mexico. The program, a result of protests from northern New Mexico farm workers, created national awareness about rural Hispanic poverty, discrimination, and land grant grievances. Quintana's research concerned attitudinal change among farm workers, something the program hoped to incite through education, organization and small demonstration projects. Dissatisfied with the treatment of the program by the Nixon administration, Quintana left H.E.L.P. However she continued her employment with the Laboratory of Anthropology at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe, working as Curator of Ethnology until 1978, developing programs and exhibits about New Mexico's varied cultural groups. During this time she also conducted ethnohistorical research contributing to archeological projects at historic sites due to be destroyed by highway development. She participated in projects at San Antonio, in the Villanueva Bridge project, the Navajo sites at Newcomb, and the Las Vegas New Mexico I-25 bypass project. As the ethnohistorian on these assignments, Quintana reconstructed the local history from colonial times while engaging public interest in the sites and treating the local people as "living historic communities." During her tenure at the Laboratory of Anthropology, Dr. Quintana also wrote Los Primeros Pobladores: Hispanic Americans of the Ute Frontier, first published in 1974. While her employment with the Laboratory of Anthropology was consistently productive, it was not without its problems. Dr. Quintana filed a grievance in 1976 and again in1978, which was rooted in competing visions of Native Americans as participants in the Museum of New Mexico rather than as objects of study. Her grievance brought to light gender discrimination in the administration of the Museum. The grievance was eventually settled in her favor in 1978 as the Laboratory's grievance committee determined she was improperly denied back pay. Afterwards, Dr. Quintana resigned her position with the Laboratory of Anthropology. She continued ethnohistorical research for archeological projects as well as projects relating to Chicano heritage, the Alianza movement, land grants, water rights, Indian civil rights, and Indian-Hispanic relations.

Well aware of the history surrounding land grants in New Mexico, Dr. Quintana became sympathetic towards the efforts of the Alianza Federal de Pueblos Libres. She wrote historical reviews which substantiated some of the historical land claims of the Alianza and delivered testimony on behalf of Reies Lopez Tijerina during his trial in the mid-1960s. She also attended the Alianza's fourth annual conference in 1966 addressing land rights issues and discrimination against Hispanos. Additionally, Dr. Quintana actively advocated for Indian Civil Rights through legal testimonies and by encouraging the ACLU and its New Mexico affiliate to fully support the tribes in their struggle against the 1968 amendment to the Civil Rights Act, which threatened to diminish the powers of tribal sovereignty.

While much of Dr. Quintana's energy was dedicated to research and publication, she was also a teacher. She served briefly as a visiting professor at Antioch College and Colorado College and also gave class presentations at UNM College of Nursing, the College of Santa Fe, the Institute of American Indian Arts, Western New Mexico University, UNM School of Architecture and Planning, and the Ghost Ranch Conference Center. She addressed a range of topics from ethnohistory, to culture contact and change in the Southwest, anthropology and illness, property and kinship, land grants, and Hispanic and African American education. Throughout her career, Dr. Quintana became a well known and respected professional in the history, cultures, and politics of the Southwest. Although she did not pursue the traditional academic course of anthropology, her work places her among the pioneers of Southwestern studies. This collection is testimony to Dr. Frances Léon Quintana's contributions to and influence on anthropology and Southwest studies, reflecting the passion and dedication of a truly distinguished anthropologist.

Source: Supplemental information provided by Joel Swadesh.


8 boxes (6.4 cu. ft.), plus 1 oversize folder


This collection documents the life and career of anthropologist, Frances Léon Quintana, in the Southwest, mainly between 1960 and 1999. The collection consists of published and unpublished works, field notes, lecture notes, project proposals and reports, general and project correspondence, biographical and job-related materials, political petitions, statements, testimonies, and some news clippings.


The collection is divided into six series
  1. Life Works (Subseries: Biographical Information; Papers and Publications; Lectures)
  2. General Correspondence
  3. Laboratory of Anthropology and Museum of New Mexico
  4. Projects (Subseries: Alabados, Traditional Music, Folkways; Tri-Ethnic Project; Home Education Livelihood Program (H.E.L.P.); Office of Economic Opportunity (O.E.O.); Las Vegas Project; Tijeras, Rancho de Carnue, Villanueva [La Cuesta] Projects)
  5. Historical and Socio-Political Interests and Involvement (Subseries: Hispano and Native American History and Contemporary Culture; Alianza, Reies Tijerina, and La Raza Unida; Land Grants; Indian Civil Rights)
  6. Publications/Lectures Written by Others

Related Archival Material

Alianza Federal de Pueblos Libres Collection, Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Reies Tijerina Papers, Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Paul Kutsche Papers from the Cañones Ethnographic Field Research Project, Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Publications have been transferred for cataloging.

See list of Publications after Contents List

Original reel to reel, audiocassettes and vinyl record stored in B3.

Publications Transferred for Cataloging

  • Los Estados Unidos y el Mexico Olvidado, Agustín Cue Cánovas 1976.
  • El Reino de Dios: A la Parroquia de Conejos en sus Boda de Diamante (authors unknown) 1934.
  • Ethnicity and Its Identity in the U.S.A.: A Report on the Field Research in the U.S.A. (1979), Tsuneo Ayabe (ed.) 1981.
  • La Tierra Amarilla: The People of the Chama Valley, Anselmo F. Arellano (ed.) 1978.
  • Community and Continuity: The History, Architecture and Cultural Landscape of La Tierra Amarilla, Chris Wilson and David Kammer 1989
  • Achievement And the Achievement Syndrome Among Mexican American Youth, James G. Anderson and Frank B. Evans 1969.
  • Summary Reports on New Mexico’s Resources Phase I, State Planning Office 1965
  • Social Impact Assessment: Experiences in Evaluation Research, Applied Anthropology and Human Ethics, Sue-Ellen Jacobs 1977.
  • Determining the Feasibility of Developing a Craft Business Enterprise for Rural Low-Income U.S. Citizens Living in the San Luis Valley: Final Report, The Virginia Neal Blue Resource Centers for Colorado Women 1974.
  • Cultural Resource Investigations at Bis Deezahi, Newcomb Flats, Jim John, and Bush Mound Sites Near Newcomb, New Mexico, Steven A. Koczan 1981.
  • Prediction of Adjustment Outcomes of Rural Migrants to the City, Gabino Rendón, Jr. 1968.
  • Ethnohistorical Bibliography of the Ute Indians of Colorado, Omer C. Stewart 1971.
  • Assessing Cultural Change in North-Central New Mexico, Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 592, New Mexico State University 1972
  • The Colorado College Studies: The Survival of Spanish American Villages, Paul Kutsche (ed.) 1979
  • A Coloring Book of New Mexico Santos, Al Chapman and James J. Maldonado 1973.
  • Cultural Stability and Cultural Change: Proceedings of the 1957 Annual Spring Meeting of the American Ethnological Society, Verne F. Ray (ed.) 1957.
  • Papers in Anthropology, Anthropology Club University of Oklahoma (eds.)1961
  • Papers in Anthropology, Anthropology Club University of Oklahoma (eds.)1966
  • Papers in Anthropology, Graydon H. Doolittle and Christopher Lintz (eds.) 1973
  • Papers in Anthropology, Anthropology Club University of Oklahoma (eds.) 1974
  • The Northwest New Mexico Regional Overview Volume 1: Historic Overview, Boyd C. Pratt and Dan Scurlock 1990
  • The Northwest New Mexico Regional Overview Volume 2: Management Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment, Boyd C. Pratt and Dan Scurlock with introduction by David M. Brugge 1990
  • Land Resources of New Mexico, Report of New Mexico Land Resources Association 1957
  • Los Bareleños de Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico: Photographic Essay, Rodolfo G. Serrano 1976
  • Desegregation of the Nation’s Public Schools: A Status Report, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 1979
  • Runaway Boy (Raton Jemez), Thelma Clarke1969
  • El Primer Siglo: A Centennial History of San José Parish Los Ojos, New Mexico 1883-1983, Robert J. Torrez 1983
  • New Mexico Santos: How to Name Them, Frances Breese and E. Boyd 1966
  • Father Juan Agustín de Morfí’s Account of Disorders in New Mexico 1778, Marc Simmons (ed.) 1977
  • The Story of Madrid New Mexico, Joe Huber 1963
  • In My Mother’s House, Ann Nolan Clark 1972
  • Final Report: Interpretive Study on Bilingual Education, Horacio Ulibarri and James G. Cooper 1969
  • "Spanish Irrigation Practices in New Mexico," Marc Simmons 1972, in New Mexico Historical Review vol. 47 no.2 pp.135-150, 1972
  • "Settlement Patterns and Village Plans in Colonial New Mexico," Marc Simmons 1969, in Journal of the West vol. VIII no. 1 pp.7-21, 1969
  • "The Baltasar Baca "Grant": History of an Encroachment," Myra Ellen Jenkins 1961, in El Palacio vol. 68, nos. 1and2 pp. 47-105, 1961
  • Journal of the West (Spanish Land Grants in New Mexico and Colorado) vol. XIX no. 3 July 1980
  • Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies (Chicanas en El Ambiente Nacional/Chicanas in the National Landscape) vol. V no. 2 Summer 1980
  • Los Seis de Boulder XX Aniversario 1974-1994
  • Amigos: Cada Cabeza es un Mundo, vol. X Nivel P #1, vol. X Nivel I #2, vol X Nivel II #3, vol. X Nivel II #4, vol. X Nivel III #5, vol X Nivel II #6, vol. X Nivel III #7, vol. X Nivel III #8, vol. X Nivel III #9
  • New Mexico: Manpower Resource Report/ Smaller Communities Program, Guadalupe County (vol. 11), Mora County (vol. 19), San Miguel County (vol.25), Sandoval County (vol. 26), Socorro County (vol. 29), Taos County (vol. 30), Torrance County (vol. 31),Valencia County (vol. 33)
  • Rio Arriba County, New Mexico: Economic Base Report/Smaller Communities Program, Employment Security Commission of New Mexico [1965?]
  • Water Resources Assessment Methodology (WRAM)—Impact Assessment and Alternative Evaluation, Interim Report, R Charles Solomon et. Al, February 1977
  • Confronting Racial Isolation in Miami, A report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, June 1982
  • Social Impact Assessment in Context: The Tensas Documents, Occasional Papers in Anthropology, Charles A. Clinton 1978
  • Agenda: A Journal of Hispanic Issues, vol. 11 no. 3, May/June 1981
  • Perspectives: The Civil Rights Quarterly, Spring 1981
  • El Palacio, vol. 84 no.3, Fall 1978
  • Four Corners Cultural Heritage Festival Cookbook, 1983
  • Civil Rights Digest, Fall 1978, Spring 1979, Winter 1979
  • People and Land: The Newspaper of the Land Reform Movement, vol. 1 no.1 Summer 1973, vol. 1 no. 2 Winter 1974, vol. 2 no.1 Summer 1974
  • El Llano Estacado Resource, Conservation, and Development Area Plan, United States Department of Agriculture, 1977
  • Handbook for County Commissioners—New Mexico, University of New Mexico 75, 1967
  • Lieutenant Governor Roberto A. Mondragon Annual Report, 1979
  • To See Ourselves: Anthropology and Modern Social Issues, Thomas Weaver, 1973
  • The State of Civil Rights: 1979, a report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights
  • Spanish Speaking People in the United States, American Ethnological Society, 1968
  • Spanish/Mexican Influence in U.S. History, Alfredo Lujan, Betty Burgess, Roy Boone n/d
  • Papers in Anthropology, Anthropology Club University of Oklahoma (eds.) 1975
  • Evaluation of Potential Social Impacts: El Llano Unit of the San Juan-Chama Project, Sue-Ellen Jacobs for U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation, 1975.
  • The Forgotten Egg, The Good Samaritan Center San Antonio Tx, 1961
  • Uranium Development in the San Juan Basin Region: A Report on Environmental Issues, San Juan Basin Regional Uranium Study, 1979.
  • Juegos Infantiles Cantados en Nuevo Mexico, Richard B. Stark1973
  • The Anglos and The Mormons Come to Ramah, no author, n/d.

Processing Information

Additional materials were added to the collection in June 2007 and in January 2012. A note to that effect is included in the contents list, with the description of each particular item. Materials initially restricted until 2020 have been integrated into the collection.
Finding Aid of the Frances Léon Quintana Papers, 1705-2012
For Approval
Processed by Lavinia Nicolae
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English
Funded in part by: Center for Regional Studies, University of New Mexico, Dr. Tobias Durán, Director

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