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Guide to the Miguel Méndez Papers CEMA 141
CEMA 141  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Processing Information note
  • Scope
  • Series Descriptions

  • Title: Miguel Méndez Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 141
    Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara, Davidson Library, Department of Special Collections, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
    Language of Material: Spanish; Castilian
    Physical Description: 12.0 linear feet
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1960-2006
    Date (inclusive): 1930-2006
    Location note: Del Norte
    General Physical Description note: 19 letter size document boxes, 1 legal size document box, 1 over size box and audio/video files.
    Abstract: Miguel Méndez is a major literary figure in the world of Chicano fiction. His papers represent this important Chicano writer's life and his writings. He is a novelist and retired univerisity professor. Personal and biographical information, correspondence, articles, photos, audio, and video files are included in his collection. Méndez's writings consist of essays, novels, poetry and short stories. Original manuscripts of his most notable work titled Peregrinos de Aztlán are part of these papers.
    Language of Materials note: The collection is almost entirely in Spanish with a few items in English.
    creator: Méndez M., Miguel

    Conditions Governing Use note

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Conditions Governing Access note

    Service copies of audiovisual items may need to be made before viewing or listening. Please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

    Biographical/Historical note

    Miguel Méndez is one of the leading writers in the field of Chicano literature. His work includes novels, short stories, essays and poetry. In his review of From Labor to Letters: A Novel Autobiography – Miguel Méndez (1997) Marco Portales describes him as the famous Yaqui-Chicano author, one of the few writers in this genre who like Tomas Rivera choose to write almost exclusively in Spanish, "continuing to spin out stories that he has published for many years wherever he has elicited interest, becoming in the process one of the first Mexican-American authors who has amply peopled Chicano literature with the stuff of his own existence and with characters, situations and stories he has imagined and experienced." Miguel Méndez has written over 57 literary works over the span of his career, writing his first novel at the age of 18.
    Miguel Méndez writes about the U.S. - Mexico border area. The Chicano Literature: A Reference Guide describes him as "one of the principal voices of socially committed Chicano fiction." The Dictionary of Literary Biography’s Chicano Writers First Series (DLB) says of him "Chicano literature has in Miguel Méndez M. one of its finest and most sensitive writers." The DLB goes on to say that in 1969 his two short stories "Tata Casehua" and "Taller de Imagenes" published in the seminal Chicano literature anthology El Espejo/The Mirror, "written in poetic prose by a brick layer with only a sixth grade education, left a profound impression on readers and critics."
    Retired as a full professor at the University of Arizona, he describes himself as a self-taught man who learned much of what he knows by spending long hours at the public library. His mastery of language, he says, "was the fruit of long hours writing in solitude by candlelight." He says his mother taught him to read, having been raised in poverty and lacking any formal education beyond the 6th grade. He spent much of his life as a laborer, brick-layer and farm worker and worked in construction until 1970 when he was offered a job teaching Hispanic literature at Arizona’s Pima College after applying for the position and passing the exam with flying colors. In 1984 the University of Arizona conferred on him the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. In 1991 he was awarded the "Premio Nacional de Literatura Mexicana Jose Fuentes Mares." Says Gary Keller of Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue, "We are committed to Miguel Méndez, whose work is sure to continue to be a lasting component of the Chicano canon."
    Miguel Méndez’ papers were established in CEMA in 2004. They include personal papers documenting the writer’s life and literary career, original literary manuscripts and essays, correspondence files, photographs, an unpublished novel, ephemera, audio-tapes, and files related to the literary magazine he directed at Pima College.

    Preferred Citation note

    Miguel Méndez Papers, CEMA 141, Department of Special Collections, University Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    Initial acquisition made in 2004, additional acquisition in 2006.

    Processing Information note

    Processed by Callie Bowdish with assistance of Lilian Gomez, May 23, 2012.


    Personal papers include essays, correspondence, photographs, novels, teaching files, and manuscripts, which are arranged alphabetically. The oversized box contains articles about and by Méndez and they are ordered chronologically. The collection consists of four series: Personal and biographical, Correspondence, Writings, and Audio and Video. All of these are organized in 21 boxes.

    Series Descriptions

    Personal and Biographical Information, 1930s - 2000s
    This section contains papers from his childhood through his career as a University professor and author. Accomplishments, conferences, awards, interviews, reviews and newspapers articles about Méndez are included in this section. Pictures and other miscellaneous documents are also included. The subseries are Biographical documents, Articles about and by Miguel Méndez, Interviews, and Photos.
    Correspondence, 1970s - 2000s
    Correspondence records contain drafts and incoming and outgoing letters from his career as a professor and writer. It includes personal and business correspondence with family, friends, writers, co-workers, and non-profit organizations. The Correspondence section also include some postcards. University of Arizona correspondence are in this section. Each section is organized by date and there is also a section for the correspondence in which date was not provided. The subseries are Drafts, Incoming, and Outgoing.
    Rough drafts and manuscripts of many of his works are included. The titles are arranged in alphabetical order and are listed by subseries as Essays, Magazines, Notes, Novels, Short stories, Poems, Theater and Typed manuscripts. Most of the material provided is undated and handwritten in Spanish. When available the author's comments are included. Very few dates were provided.
    Audio and Video, 1989 - 2002
    This section includes VHS and audio tapes, some from his radio and television interviews.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Frontera mexico-estadounidense (Región) -- Novela.
    Immigrants - - Fiction.
    Mexican American authors
    Mexican American fiction (Spanish)
    Mexican-American Border Region--Fiction.
    Mexicano-americanos -- Novela.
    Méndez M., Miguel
    Trabajadores extranjeros mexicanos -- Estados Unidos -- Novela.