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Nancy C. Wood Papers

Identifier: MSS-888-BC

Scope and Content

This collection is organized into five series: Awards, Grants, Publicity; Correspondence; Research, Notes, Clippings, and Articles; Full-Length Manuscripts; and Audio Recordings.

Awards, Grants, Publicity: This series includes the application materials Wood assembled for various grants, including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. Wood was awarded a substantial grant from the Colorado Bicentennial Commission in 1976 to fund Grassroots People; in 1987 the Museum of New Mexico awarded her a large grant to support her Taos Pueblo photography; and she won an NEA fellowship in literature in 1988 for “The Soledad Crucifixion" (published as Soledad in 2012). Her unsuccessful 1974 Guggenheim application would have funded an historical novel on Taos Pueblo. The series also includes materials from a 2012 NEA application which would fund a narrative poem on the Spanish Inquisition in New Mexico.

Correspondence: This series holds materials that reflect Wood’s professional and personal life. This series is subdivided into: Publishers; Agents; General; Appraisers/Collectors; and Teaching. Included are letters sent to Wood and carbons of letters written by Wood. Several folders contain correspondence between Wood and her agent and close friend Marie Rodell.

Research, Notes, Clippings, and Articles: Wood wrote and sold a number of articles in the 1960’s and early 1970’s before focusing exclusively on books. Most of the articles are about Colorado towns and Western themes. Subjects include environmental issues like deforestation, cattle ranching, nuclear energy, and radioactive pollution. Wood collaborated with members of the Sierra Club to publish articles about conservation and the timber industry. Wood published several profiles of Colorado cowboys and wild horses. This series includes one oversized box containing scrapbooks with Wood’s early work for the Beachcomber and the New York Times.

Manuscripts - Full Length: Ms. Wood’s work includes fiction, non-fiction, photography, children’s literature, poetry and an edited collection. Full length manuscripts are arranged chronologically. Wood collaborated with her photographer-husband Myron Wood on her first three books. The manuscripts are: Central City: A Ballad of the West; Little Wrangler; Colorado: Big Mountain Country; The Last Five Dollar Baby; Hollering Sun; Clearcut: The Deforestation of America; Many Winters; In This Proud Land; The King of Liberty Bend; The Man Who Gave Thunder to the Earth; The Grass Roots People; War Cry on a Prayer Feather; When Buffalo Free the Mountains; Heartland New Mexico; Taos Pueblo; Spirit Walker; Dancing Moons; The Girl Who Loved Coyotes; Shaman’s Circle; The Serpent’s Tongue; Sacred Fire; Thunderwoman; How the Tiny People Grew Tall; Mr. and Mrs. God; Old Coyote; Eye of the West; We Became as Mountains.

Correspondence with Roy Stryker is included with manuscript material for In This Proud Land, which was a collaboration between Wood and Stryker. Wood’s most well-known publication treating her experience on the Ute Indian Reservation is When Buffalo Free the Mountains. Several of her publications were deeply influenced by her relationships with several members of the Taos Pueblo; most well-known is the book of photography, Taos Pueblo. The libel suit brought against Wood for her work on the Ute people can be found among the materials for War Cry on a Prayer Feather, one of two books that she wrote on the Ute.

Audio Recordings: This series contains oral histories with members of the Taos Pueblo and with FSA photographers. Included are interviews with John Collier, Jr. and Russell Lee, as well as an oral history with Ms. Wood dated February 9, 2012.


  • 1954-2011


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

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

Biography / History

Nancy Wood was born in 1936 in Trenton, New Jersey. She moved to Fort Carson, Colorado in 1958 and it was here that the landscape and environment first captured her soul. In 1962, she met Roy Stryker who became her artistic teacher. Roy Stryker managed the photography movement of the Farm Security Administration, and he enlisted Nancy to help him compile a book of FSA photos that depicted the happier, hopeful side of the Great Depression. In 1973, their joint editorial collaboration, In This Proud Land, was published. Although it would be over 10 years after meeting Stryker that Nancy would pick up the camera in a professional capacity, Stryker taught her the art of seeing.

In 1961, Nancy married photographer Myron Wood and they collaborated on projects together, with her writing the narrative and he providing original photographs. It was in 1962 that Nancy began to write magazine articles and children’s books. Her first children’s book, a collaboration with Myron Wood entitled Little Wrangler, was published in 1966. Writing children’s books soon expanded into writing books of poetry, short novels, and narratives for her own photographic work. Her second book, Hollering Sun, was a book of poetry written after spending time at Taos Pueblo. Nancy’s time at Taos Pueblo would have a tremendous impact on her life.

Roy Stryker may have been Nancy’s artistic teacher, but her spiritual teacher was Taos Pueblo elder Red Willow Dancing. While still living in Colorado, Nancy began to write about Taos Pueblo and its spirituality. Her own religious views shifted from devout Roman Catholicism to the religiosity of the Taos people, which involved a profound sensitivity to nature. In 1984, she left Colorado and moved to Taos, New Mexico where she photographed Taos Pueblo and its people for five years. She was to write nine books on Taos over the years, which she has described as a “kind and loving tribute" to the Taos people.

Her writing and photography over the last 45 years has yielded 32 books, all influenced by the real situations, people, and environment of the West. Her work focuses on the grassroots of many Western regions and peoples such as Colorado, the Utes, Taos, Pueblo, Pie Town, and rural New Mexico. Nancy's four children are: Karen Alison, Christopher Keith, Eleanor Kathryn, and India Hart. Nancy passed away on March 12, 2013 at her home in Santa Fe, NM, as a result of cancer.

Her awards include: the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Photography Book from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (2008) for Eye of the West, the finalist for the Western Writers of America Spur Award (2005) for Old Coyote, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award (2005, 1998), the Zia Award (2005), the Frank Waters Lifetime Achievement Award (2004), the Lee Bennett Hopkins Children's Poetry Award (1994) for Spirit Walker, the National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Literature (1987) for The Soledad Crucifixion, the Pulitzer Prize Nominee for musical adaptation of poetry (1976) for War Cry on a Prayer Feather, and she was the finalist for the Southwest Book Award (2009) for We Became As Mountains.


30 Boxes (27.5 cu. ft.)


This collection primarily contains writings, research, and correspondence, spanning Nancy Wood’s fifty year career as a professional writer.


5 series:
  1. Awards, Grants, Publicity
  2. Correspondence
  3. Research, Notes, Clippings, and Articles
  4. Full Length Manuscripts
  5. Audio Recordings

Related Material

Nancy C. Wood Photograph Collection, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

Separated Material

Archival CDs are stored in B3.

Book titled "A Treatise on Auricular Confession", Raphael Melia, 1865 (used by Wood in her research for "Soledad.") removed for preservation and cataloguing.

Processing Information

There is no box 12. Audio tapes were re-formatted to CD in March, 2012. CD 17, CD 23, and CD 26 were inaudible and therefore discarded.

Inquire with reference staff for access to unprocessed addition - 77 boxes, B3-13A.
Finding Aid of the Nancy C. Wood Papers, 1950-2011
Edited Full Draft
C. McSherry
© 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English
Funding provided by: University of New Mexico Center for Regional Studies.

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