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Ann Merrill correspondence from Frank Waters

Identifier: MSS-895-BC

Scope and Content

Ann Merrill’s collection consists of letters and notes written to her by Frank Waters. The letters provide insight into their lives and relationship in the 1960s-1970s. Ann was getting settled in Taos, NM with her daughters and also developing as a painter. Frank was writing books, travelling to Mexico and Central America, and struggling to earn a living. Both Ann and Frank were in “soul searching" phases of their lives. The letters give insight into personal journeys, daily goings on, and connections with the Taos scene. Some of the letters are written by Waters from Mexico where he spent time in Mexico City and did a bit of travelling around the country and into Guatemala. His description and analysis of travel itself (transportation, lodging, etc.) as well as of the people, towns, and archaeological sites give insight into Mexican and Guatemalan culture in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Description of travels to Oaxaca, Yucatan and Chiapas in Mexico and down the Usumacinta River and to Bonampak, Yaxchilan, and Tikal in Guatemala are particularly noteworthy.

The collection also includes a letter to Ann Merrill from Tom Lyon (2001) thanking her for letting him use the letters, a letter from Tal Luther wanting to buy the letters for his collection, and a biographical sketch of Ann Merrill written by her daughter, Lolly Merrill Stafford.


  • 1965-2012
  • Majority of material found within 1966-1979

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.

Biography / History

Ann Merrill was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, as Ann Etta Findeisen. Her mother Margaret Findeisen and her father Charles Walter Findeisen moved to California when Ann was still a little girl with their younger son Charlie. When the children were about 6 and 4, the couple divorced. Margaret later married Ernie Hamilton. Years later, Ernie and Margaret went to Taos and became friends with Frank Waters.

Ann grew up in Pasadena, CA, went to College at UCLA and graduated with honors in English. She married David Merrill who was a medical resident in New York. They moved back to Pasadena, California and had three children, Tim, Blandy, and Lolly. When the children were 16, 13, and 11, David divorced Ann. This was very devastating and Ann struggled with her grief for a long time. She began to find herself and began to study Zen Buddhism and painting. She held salons at the house in Pasadena, attended by artists, dancers, and poets. Teo Morca, who danced with Maria Benitez from Taos attended some of the salons.

Ann had planned to move to Santa Barbara after the divorce, but her plan changed when she read The Man Who Killed the Deer. She was very moved by it and wrote to Frank Waters. He wrote back and encouraged her to come to Taos.

She went to Taos in 1965 and fell in love with the area. She decided to move there with her 2 girls; her son was in his first year of college. They moved into an adobe house called the "Tony House," built by Mabel Dodge Lujan. After a year or so, Ann and her daughters moved from the Tony House to a small house in Ranchos de Taos where Ann lived until 1996. Ann was part of a local group of artists (Spud Johnson, Jonathan Scott, Fritz, and Louise Gantier) who would get together a few times a month for a "sketch group." Frank was friends with all of the members of this group and would often host the group at his home in Arroyo Seco.

Ann and Frank spent a lot of time together and developed a very close friendship. Frank introduced Ann to many of Taos’ interesting people. He took her and the girls to dances and Pueblos. Frank treated Ann’s daughters like his own. After Frank married Barbara, Ann and her family had less and less contact with him. Ann Merrill passed away on April 6, 2008.

Source: Excerpted from letter regarding Ann Merrill and Frank Waters from Lolly Merrill Stafford, 4/10/2012. Letter is housed in the collection.


1 Folder


This is Ann Merrill’s collection of letters and notes written to her by Frank Waters from 1965-1979. The letters give insight into personal journeys, daily goings on, connections with the Taos scene, and travels in Mexico and Guatemala.

Related Archival Material

Frank Waters Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Oral History Interviews with Frank Waters Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Frank Waters Correspondence and Contracts Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.
Finding Aid of the Ann Merrill correspondence from Frank Waters, 1965-2012
Edited Full Draft
B. Silbergleit
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

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