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Mary Hunter Austin Collection: Finding Aid
mssAU 1-5456 ; photCL 296  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biography
  • Scope Content
  • Related materials in the Huntington Library
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Mary Hunter Austin Collection
    Dates: 1845-1950
    Bulk dates: 1920-1934
    Collection Number: mssAU 1-5456 ; photCL 296
    Creator: Austin, Mary, 1868-1934
    Extent: 6698 items in 148 boxes (802 manuscripts, 4651 letters, and 3 printed broadsides in 136 boxes and 1242 photographs in 12 boxes)
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2203
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: manuscripts@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The collection consists of the literary and personal papers of American novelist, essayist and political activist Mary Hunter Austin (1868-1934), best known for her portrayals of life in California and New Mexico. It includes correspondence and literary manuscripts by both Austin and numerous other authors, editors and friends, as well as ephemera and photographs. Literary manuscripts include Austin's personal journals, short stories, poems, essays, and numerous drafts of novels. The correspondence deals with Austin's personal life and business dealings as well as her activities with Indian rights and the water right controversies in California's Owens Valley and in the Southwest. There are also materials related to Austin's interests in folklore and religion in New Mexico and the Southwest. The more than 1,200 photographs in the collection date from 1869 to the 1920s and include personal and family photographs of Mary Austin, her friends, relatives, homes, and various topics related to her interests.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Administration Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher. For more information about the copyright ownership of unpublished materials in the Mary Hunter Austin Collection, researchers are encouraged to contact the Huntington’s Curator of Literary Manuscripts.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Mary Hunter Austin Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired from the Mary Austin Estate in 1951. Some additional material has been incorporated from other sources. These acquisitions include gifts of Charlotte Kellogg, May 9, 1951 (AU 1123); Bertha B. Wardell, August 23, 1954 (AU 1274-1279); Glen Dawson, January 6, 1956 (AU 1290); and J. E. Reynolds, January 26, 1958 (AU 1246); and purchases from Argonaut Book Shop, December 1960 (AU-113-1138, AU 1267, AU 3554); Zeitlin & Ver Brugge, March 28, 1968 (AU 1077); Dawson's Book Shop, June 30, 1969 (AU 1091-1093); K. W. Rendell, August 18, 1970 (AU 1104); Joseph the Provider, July 5, 1977 (AU 1249-1266); and Randall House, February 23, 1989 (AU 5456).

    Custodial History

    Prior to their acquisition by the Huntington, the items were housed at the School of American Research.

    Separated Material

    Photographs received as part of this collection that were created by Ansel Adams for the book Taos Pueblo, a collaboration with Austin published in 1930, were transferred to the Art Division in July 1988 (accession numbers 88.10.1 – 88.10.19).
    These items may be viewed by appointment with the Registrar, Art Division.

    Processing Information

    This collection was divided between the Manuscripts Department and the Photo Archives, with the manuscripts and ephemera processed as one collection (mssAU), and the photographs processed separately (photCL 296).
    A summary report for the manuscripts collection was made by Karen Kearns in March 1989 and updated by Natalie Russell on August 27, 2007. In December 2014, Suzanne Oatey created a folder list of the photographs, and Diann Benti combined and updated the various inventories and created a box list in order to create this finding aid describing both the manuscript and photographic components.


    Mary (Hunter) Austin (1868-1934) was a well-known and prolific writer best known for her portrayals of life in California and New Mexico. She published 33 books, including Land of Little Rain, 3 plays and well over 125 short stories, articles, and poems before her death on August 13, 1934.
    During her lifetime, Austin befriended many important figures including Jimmy Hopper, Herbert Hoover, Jack London, Charles Fletcher Lummis, George Bernard Shaw, George Sterling, and H.G. Wells, among many others represented in the collection. There is little correspondence with her immediate family, though she was close to her brother Jim’s daughter, Mary (Hunter) Sullivan Wolf, and numerous correspondence between the two exist. Austin lived in Carmel, California, New York, London, and Rome. Santa Fe, New Mexico, became her final residence and she erected a house there, which she named "Casa Querida." Once in Santa Fe, her lifelong interest in American Indians became more pronounced, and she lobbied vigorously and frequently on their behalf. Much of her later writing dealt with Indians as well as mysticism and religions. With the help of Arthur Leon Campa of the University of New Mexico, Austin collected Spanish folklore, which had existed as oral tradition until they transcribed it. Austin's writings also focused on the financial, intellectual, and social independence of women. The collection provides insight into the personal and professional life of this early 20th century writer.

    Scope Content

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains the personal papers of American novelist, essayist, and political activist Mary Hunter Austin, best known for her portrayals of life in California and New Mexico. It includes correspondence and literary manuscripts by both Austin and numerous other authors, editors and friends, as well as ephemera, scrapbooks of newspaper clippings about Austin, and photographs. Literary manuscripts include Austin's personal journals, short stories, poems, essays, and numerous drafts of novels. The correspondence deals with Austin's personal life and business dealings as well as her activities with Indian rights and the water right controversies in California's Owens Valley and in the Southwest. There are also materials related to Austin's interests in folklore and religion in New Mexico and the Southwest.
    Subject matter includes:
    • The publishing of her books and articles (see letters from Houghton Mifflin Co.; The Forum; Bobbs-Merrill; and Anne (Whiton) Watkins among others)
    • Indians of North America (see letters from Bronson Murray Cutting; Frederick Webb Hodge; U.S. Dept. of the Interior; Sotero Ortiz; Ray Lyman Wilbur; and, Eufracio Trujillo, et al.)
    • Spanish Folklore (see letters from Arthur Leon Campa and numerous literary manuscripts)
    • Religion and mysticism (see letters by Austin to Mr. Schroeder)
    • The Colorado River and Owens Valley water controversies (see letters from George Wylie Paul Hunt; Julian Eibeshutz; Francis Cushman Wilson; and, Elsie Watterson)
    The more than 1,200 photographs in the collection date from 1869 to the 1920s and include personal and family photographs of Mary Austin, her friends and relatives, and her various homes; portraits of notable literary friends and acquaintances; theaters and theater productions; Southwest Indians and pueblos, art and artifacts; desert plants and scenery; town views and travel photographs; Guatemalan masks; views of Penitente processions in New Mexico; and other miscellaneous views. Most of the photographs are unattributed and are of various sizes and formats.

    Physical Description

    Many items have pencil marks previously made by Nellie Barnes at the School of American Research. The marks may be found in the forms of added dates and words, summarizations of the contents of letters, and corrected spellings. No attempt has been made to erase these marks.
    Manuscripts. Most of the manuscripts are originals with some carbon copies. There are numerous drafts of the same manuscripts. Many are in bad condition. Austin frequently wrote on the backs of other manuscripts and letters. When possible the identity of these fragments has been determined and included on the folders. There are many pages that are glued, taped, or pinned together and have been folded. These items have now been unfolded and pins and paper clips have been removed. Some of the paper has become very brittle.
    Letters. Most of the letters from Mary (Hunter) Austin are carbon copies. Those to Ansel Easton Adams are Xerox copies given to the library by Adams in 1978. Letters to Austin are mainly originals. The letters tend to be in good physical condition.

    Persons and organizations represented by more than 20 pieces

    Note: Because of the size of the collection, it was impractical to list people represented by less than 20 pieces.
    • Adamic, Louis (1899-1951) Austrian novelist. 21 pieces. AU 807-827.
    • Adams, Andy (1859-1935) Cowboy, miner, and author. 22 pieces. AU 828-849.
    • Adams, Ansel Easton (1902-1984) Photographer. 57 pieces. AU 850-901. FAC 1110-1114.
    • Applegate, Frank guy (1882-1932) Artist, educator, and author. 26 pieces. AU 993-1018.
    • Bender, Albert Maurice (1866-1941) Philanthropist and patron of the arts. 82 pieces. AU 1388-1469.
    • Bobbs-Merrill Company Publishers. 74 pieces. AU 1503-1576.
    • Brooks, Van Wyck (1886-1963) Critic and essayist. 20 pieces. AU 1666-1685.
    • Bynner, Witter (1881-1968) Playwright and poet. 21 pieces. AU 1753-1773.
    • Campa, Arthur Leon (1905-1980?) Educator and author. 57 pieces. AU 1779- 1835.
    • Canby, Henry Seidel (1878-1962) Author and editor. 30 pieces. AU 1841-1870.
    • Canby, Marion Ponsonby Gause (fl. 1930s) Wife of Henry Seidel Canby. 27 pieces. AU 1871-1897.
    • The Century Company. 40 pieces. AU 1944-1983.
    • Cutting, Bronson Murray (1888-1935) Senator from New Mexico. 31 pieces. AU 2079-2109.
    • Densmore, Frances (1867-1957) Author and editor. 22 pieces. AU 2173-2194.
    • Farrar, John Chipman (1896-1974) Editor, publisher, and author. 22 pieces. AU 2324-2345.
    • The Forum. 61 pieces. AU 2416-2476.
    • Grierson, Francis (1848-1927) Author and musician. 27 pieces. AU 2560-2586.
    • Hodge, Frederick Webb (1864-1956) Ethnologist and author. Director of the Southwest Museum, Los Angeles. 33 pieces. AU 2764-2796.
    • Holt, Henry (1840-1926) Publisher and author. 41 pieces. AU 2824-2864.
    • Hoover, Herbert Clark (1874-1964) and Lou (Henry) Hoover (1874-1944) 31st President of the United States and his wife. 31 pieces. AU 2882-2912.
    • Houghton Mifflin Company. 235 pieces. AU 2919-2920, 2922-3154.
    • Kellogg, Paul Underwood (1879-1958) Editor of Survey. 40 pieces. AU 3322-3361.
    • Luhan, Mabel (Ganson) Dodge (1879-1962) Author and patron of the arts. 46 pieces. AU 3571-3616.
    • MacDougal, Daniel Trembly (1865-1958) Scientist and author. 131 pieces. AU 3649-3656, 3658-3689, 3691-3781.
    • McWilliams, Carey (1905-1980) Editor and author. 57 pieces. AU 3831-3887.
    • Mencken, Henry Louis (1880-1956) Editor, essayist, and critic. 20 pieces. AU 3946-3965.
    • The Nation. 36 pieces. AU 4057-4092.
    • National Folk Review. 28 pieces. AU 4102.4129.
    • The New Republic. 35 pieces. AU 4143-4177.
    • Park, Robert Ezra (1864-1944) Sociologist. 20 pieces. AU 4274-4293.
    • Simpson, William Haskell (1858- ) Employee of the Advertising Dept. of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway System. 20 pieces. AU 4615-4634.
    • Southwest Review. 57 pieces. AU 4670-4726.
    • Toor, Frances (1890-1956) Editor of Mexican Folkways magazine. 22 pieces. AU 4867-4888.
    • Tracy, Henry Chester (1876-1958) Author. 24 pieces. AU 4894-4917.
    • Van Doren, Mark Albert (1894-1972) Editor and author. 21 pieces. AU 5042-5062.
    • Walker, Ryan (1870-1932) Cartoonist. 39 pieces. AU 5103-5141.
    • Wolf, Mary (Hunter) Sullivan (1904- ) Niece of Mary (Hunter) Austin. 47 pieces. AU 5295-5341.
    • World Celebrities (booking agency). 28 pieces. AU 5365-5374, 5376-5393.
    • Yale University Press. 27 pieces. AU 5405-5426, FAC 1164-1169.

    Other Important Correspondents

    • Atherton, Gertrude Franklin (Horn) AU 1048-1053
    • Benet, William Rose AU 1470-1472
    • Cather, Willa Sibert AU 1930-1943
    • Coolbrith, Ina AU 2047-2048
    • Frost, Robert AU 2487
    • Garland, Hamlin AU 2501-2502
    • Hurst, Fannie AU 3206-3213
    • Jeffers, Robinson AU 3261-3265
    • La Farge, Oliver Hazard Perry AU 3439-3441
    • Levien, Sonya AU 3471-3473
    • Lewis, Sinclair AU 3475-3484
    • Lippman, Walter AU 3511-3513
    • London, Charmian (Kittredge) AU 3532-3545
    • London, Jack AU 3546-3548
    • Lowell, Amy AU 3560-3563
    • Pound, Ezra AU 4372
    • Rivera, Diego AU 4450
    • Roosevelt, Theodore AU 4468
    • Seton, Ernest Thompson AU 4558-4577
    • Sinclair, Upton AU 4635-4638
    • Sterling, George AU 4758-4762
    • Untermeyer, Louis AU 5003-5010
    • Van Doren, Carl AU 5013-5030

    Related materials in the Huntington Library


    The collection is arranged in the following series:
    • 1. Manuscripts by Mary Hunter Austin (Boxes 1-41)
    • 2. Manuscripts by other authors (Boxes 42-44)
    • 3. Oversize Manuscripts (Boxes 45-52)
    • 4. Correspondence (Boxes 53-121)
    • 5. Oversize Correspondence (Box 52 [4 folders])
    • 6. Ephemera (Boxes 122-136)
    • 7. Oversize Ephemera and Art (12 folders)
    • 8. Photographs (photCL 296 Boxes 1-12)

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Adamic, Louis, 1899-1951.
    Adams, Andy, 1859-1935.
    Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984.
    Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell), 1820-1906 -- Photographs.
    Applegate, Frank G. (Frank Guy), 1881-1931.
    Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn, 1857-1948.
    Austin, Mary, 1868-1934 -- Archives.
    Austin, Mary, 1868-1934 -- Photographs.
    Austin, Mary, 1868-1934 – Homes and haunts -- Photographs.
    Bandelier, Adolph Francis Alphonse, 1840-1914 -- Photographs.
    Bender, Albert M. (Albert Maurice), 1866-1941.
    Benét, William Rose, 1886-1950.
    Brooks, Van Wyck, 1886-1963.
    Bynner, Witter, 1881-1968.
    Campa, Arthur L. (Arthur Leon), 1905-1978.
    Canby, Henry Seidel, 1878-1961.
    Canby, Marion Ponsonby Gause.
    Cather, Willa, 1873-1947.
    Coolbrith, Ina D. (Ina Donna), 1842?-1928.
    Coolbrith, Ina D. (Ina Donna), 1842?-1928 -- Photographs.
    Conrad, Joseph, 1857-1924 -- Photographs -- Photographs.
    Cutting, Bronson M., 1888-1935.
    Densmore, Frances, 1867-1957.
    Farrar, John Chipman, 1896-1974.
    Fiske, Turbesé Lummis -- Photographs.
    Frost, Robert, 1874-1963.
    Garland, Hamlin, 1860-1940.
    Grierson, Francis, 1848-1927.
    Hodge, Frederick Webb, 1864-1956.
    Hodge, Frederick Webb, 1864-1956 -- Photographs.
    Holt, Henry, 1840-1926.
    Hopper, James, 1876-1956 -- Photographs.
    Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.
    Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964 -- Photographs.
    Hoover, Lou Henry, 1874-1944.
    Hoover, Lou Henry, 1874-1944 -- Photographs.
    Hurst, Fannie, 1889-1968.
    James, George Wharton, 1858-1923 -- Photographs.
    Jeffers, Robinson, 1887-1962.
    Kellogg, Paul Underwood, 1879-1958.
    La Farge, Oliver, 1901-1963.
    Levien, Sonya, 1888?-1960.
    Lewis, Sinclair, 1885-1951.
    Lippmann, Walter, 1889-1974.
    London, Charmian.
    London, Jack, 1876-1916.
    London, Jack, 1876-1916 -- Photographs.
    Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925.
    Luhan, Mabel Dodge, 1879-1962.
    Luhan, Mabel Dodge, 1879-1962 -- Photographs.
    Lummis, Charles Fletcher, 1859-1928.
    Lummis, Charles Fletcher, 1859-1928 -- Photographs.
    Lummis, Charles Fletcher, 1859-1928 -- Homes and haunts -- California -- Photographs.
    Lummis, Eve -- Photographs.
    MacDougal, Daniel Trembly, 1865-1958.
    MacDougal, Daniel Trembly, 1865-1958 -- Photographs.
    McWilliams, Carey, 1905-1980.
    Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956.
    Miller, Joaquin, 1837-1913 -- Photographs.
    Palmer, Sutton, 1854-1933
    Park, Robert Ezra, 1864-1944.
    Pavlova, Anna, 1881-1931 -- Photographs.
    Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972.
    Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957.
    Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957 -- Photographs.
    Robinson, Bill, 1878-1949 -- Photographs.
    Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919.
    Schultz, James Willard, 1859-1947 -- Photographs.
    Seton, Ernest Thompson, 1860-1946.
    Severance, Caroline M. Seymour (Caroline Maria Seymour) 1820-1914 -- Photographs.
    Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950 -- Photographs.
    Simpson, William Haskell.
    Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968.
    Sterling, George, 1869-1926.
    Sterling, George, 1869-1926 -- Photographs.
    Toor, Frances, 1890-1956.
    Tracy, Henry Chester, 1876-
    Lang, Annie Traquair, artist.
    Untermeyer, Louis, 1885-1977.
    Van Doren, Carl, 1885-1950.
    Van Doren, Mark, 1894-1972.
    Walker, Ryan.
    Wells, H. G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946 -- Photographs.
    Wolf, Mary Hunter, 1904-


    Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984, photographer.
    Bradfield, Wesley, 1876-1929, photographer.
    Curtis, Edward S., 1868-1952, photographer.
    Forbes, A. A., photographer.
    Lummis, Charles Fletcher, 1859-1928, photographer.

    Corporate Names

    Houghton Mifflin Company.
    Bobbs-Merrill Company.
    Century Company.
    National Folk Festival (1934 : St. Louis, Mo.)
    New Republic.
    Yale University Press.
    World Celebrities.


    Southwest review.


    Authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
    Adobe buildings -- Photographs.
    Cahuilla Indians -- Photographs.
    Churches--New Mexico -- Photographs.
    Cocopa Indians -- Photographs -- Photographs.
    Folklore -- Southwest, New.
    Geothermal resources -- Imperial Valley (Calif. and Mexico) -- Photographs.
    Hermanos Penitentes--Southwest, New--Religion -- Photographs.
    Hopi dance -- Photographs.
    Hopi Indians -- Photographs.
    Indian baskets -- Photographs.
    Indian masks -- Photographs.
    Indians of North America -- California.
    Indians of North America -- California -- Photographs.
    Indians of North America -- New Mexico.
    Indians of North America -- Southwest, New -- Photographs.
    Indians of North America -- Legal status, laws, etc.
    Isleta Indians -- Photographs.
    Mission San Gabriel Arcangel (San Gabriel, Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Navajo Indians -- Photographs.
    Paiute Indians -- Photographs.
    Pueblo Indians -- Photographs.
    Pueblo pottery -- Photographs.
    Pueblos – New Mexico -- Photographs.
    Ruins--New Mexico -- Photographs.
    Sandpaintings -- Photographs.
    Santuario de Chimayo (Chimayo, N.M.) -- Photographs.
    Theaters -- Photographs.
    Tohono O'odham Indians -- Photographs.
    Water rights -- California -- Owens Valley.
    Women authors, American -- 20th century -- Archives.
    Women -- Suffrage -- United States.
    Women travelers -- Photographs.

    Geographic Areas

    Arizona -- Photographs.
    California -- History -- Sources.
    California – Photographs.
    Chimayo (N.M.) -- Photographs.
    Colorado River (Colo.-Mexico) -- Water rights.
    Fort McDowell (Ariz.) -- Photographs.
    Grand Canyon (Ariz.) -- Photographs.
    Independence (Calif.) – Photographs.
    Inyo County (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Lone Pine (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    New Mexico -- History -- Sources.
    New Mexico -- Photographs.
    Owens Valley (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Pajarito Plateau (N.M.) -- Photographs.
    Salton Sea Region (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Santa Fe (N.M.) -- Photographs.
    Southwest, New -- History -- Sources.
    Taos (N.M.) -- Photographs.
    Zuni (N.M.) -- Photographs.


    Lantern slides.
    Letters (correspondence) Southwest, New.
    Manuscripts Southwest, New.
    Personal papers Southwest, New.