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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: July 29, 2002
Volume 38, Number 2

Library celebrates Waters centennial

By Carolyn Gonzales


Frank Waters Room at Zimmerman Library. Photo by Carolyn Gonzales.

The UNM General Library can’t travel to Taos for the Frank Waters Centennial July 25-28. The library can, however, open its doors and invite Waters’ devotees in to explore the author’s books, manuscripts and photographs and check out Remembering Frank Waters, an exhibit featuring articles by and about him as well as photos and memorabilia.

By appointment, visitors are invited to the second floor of Zimmerman Library to see the Frank Waters Room.

Taos events and the library exhibit coincide with the centennial of Waters’ birth July 25, 1902. Waters, whose life spanned most of the 20th century, was nominated five times for the Nobel Prize in Literature and authored more than 20 books, including fiction titles “The Man Who Killed the Deer,” and “The Woman at Otowi Crossing.”

Called the grandfather of Southwestern literature, Waters also published non-fiction works, such as “Book of the Hopi.” His works focused on Navajo, Hopi, Pueblo and pre-Columbian influences.

Jan Dodson Barnhart in the Waters Room with collection materials. Photo by Carolyn Gonzales.

The Frank Waters Papers, housed in the library’s Center for Southwest Research (CSWR), consists of 34 boxes of editorial and general correspondence, lecture notes, video tapes as well as manuscripts and photographs. His books have been incorporated into the center’s extensive holdings of Southwestern authors.

The UNM General Library already had much of Waters collection in July, 1992 when library administration and CSWR staff were interested in creating a reading room to honor a Southwest writer.
Dean Robert Migneault, Associate Dean Steve Rollins, John Grassham, reference program director in the CSWR, and Jan Dodson Barnhart, then associate director of the CSWR, traveled to the Waters’ home in Arroyo Seco, near Taos, to meet with Frank and Barbara Waters.

Now in donor programming in the library’s Development Office, Barnhart is the only member of the foursome still with the library. She says, “It was an opportunity to obtain the rest of the collection. We had many of his books and other materials we acquired in the 1980s, but in 1992, Waters was still a publishing writer. We were interested in being able to provide the extent of his collected work to researchers.”

An index to the Waters collection is available on the Online Archive of New Mexico, accessible from the library’s web page at http://elibrary.unm.edu/.

The Frank Waters Room was dedicated on June 3, 1994, and included a reception in the library’s exhibit area. “Frank was more comfortable in a wheelchair those days. As Barbara wheeled him out of the elevator, his eyes sparkled when he saw his room with his books on the shelves as well as the mandolin and his beloved pipe collection,” Barnhart recalls. Waters died exactly one year later.

Today, the reading room is a special access area for researchers interested in studying from his collection. Adorning the room are many items the library acquired with the books and manuscript materials.

A trastero, a cabinet that is a copy of one in the Waters' residence, a small chest Mabel Dodge Luhan gave to Waters;
a bust of Waters, three Indian rugs, a kachina, paintings and more.

Many of these items are included in the exhibit where they remain through Aug. 30.

Of the many researchers who have dug deeply into the collection, one, Thomas Lyon, is a Waters biographer. Others include students interested in literary analysis or Native American studies.

“We hope that those who participate in the Frank Waters Centennial in Taos will visit the library collection to gain a deeper understanding of the man and his work,” says Barnhart.

To schedule an appointment to visit the Frank Waters Reading Room, call Kathlene Ferris at 277-7172.H