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Finding aid to the Mary Austin Collection MS.605
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Scope and contents
  • Biographical note
  • Preferred citation
  • Processing Information note
  • Use
  • Acquisition
  • Custodial history
  • Arrangement
  • Related Archival Materials note

  • Title: Mary Hunter Austin Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.605
    Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
    Date: 1868 - 1954
    creator: Austin, Mary Hunter, 1868-1934.


    Collection is open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit http://theautry.org/research/research-rules-and-application or contact library staff at rroom@theautry.org. An item-level inventory is available from library staff.

    Scope and contents

    The collection consists of published articles and biographies by Austin; reviews and interviews about Austin or her work; correspondence with Charles Flethcer Lummis and Frederick Webb Hodge; a book prospectus; and advertisements promoting her publications.

    Biographical note

    Mary Hunter Austin (born September 9, 1868 in Carlinville, Illinois; died August 13, 1934 in Santa Fe, New Mexico) was the fourth of six children born to George and Susannah (Graham) Hunter. Austin graduated from Blackburn College in 1888. Her family moved to California in the same year and established a homestead in the San Joaquin Valley. She married Stafford Wallace Austin on May 18, 1891 in Bakersfield, California. He was from Hawaii and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.
    For 17 years Austin made a special study of Indian life in the Mojave Desert, and her publications set forth the intimate knowledge she thus acquired. She was a prolific novelist, poet, critic, and playwright, as well as an early feminist, suffragist, and defender of Native American and Spanish-American rights. She is best known for her tribute to the deserts of California, The Land of Little Rain (1903). Her play, The Arrow Maker, dealing with Indian life, was produced at the New Theatre, (New York) in 1911, the same year she published a rhapsodic tribute to her acquaintance H.G. Wells as a producer of "informing, vitalizing, indispensable books" in the American Magazine.
    Mary Hunter Austin wrote about her Independence, California home in The Land of Little Rain.
    Austin and her husband were involved in the local California Water Wars, in which the water of Owens Valley was eventually drained to supply Los Angeles. When their battle was lost, he moved to Death Valley, California, and she moved to Carmel, California. There, she was part of a social circle that included Jack London, Ambrose Bierce, and George Sterling and was one of the founders of the Forest Theater.
    In 1929, while living in New Mexico, Austin co-authored a book with photographer Ansel Adams. Published a year later, the book, Taos Pueblo, was printed in a limited edition of only 108 copies. It is now quite rare because it included actual photographs made by Adams rather than reproductions.
    Mount Mary Austin, in the Sierra Nevada, was named in her honor. It is located 8.5 miles west of her longtime home in Independence, California. A biography of Austin by Helen McKnight Doyle was published in 1939.
    Hammond, Ann (2002). Ansel Adams: Devine Performance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
    "Mount Mary Austin". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved from http://geonames.usgs.gov
    McKnight Doyle, H. (1939). Mary Austin: Woman of genius. New York, NY: Gotham House.

    Preferred citation

    Mary Hunter Austin Collection, 1868-1954, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.605; [folder number] [folder title][date].

    Processing Information note

    Processed by Glenna Schroeder, circa 1977-1981. Revised by Sarah Buchanan, 2007. Finding aid updated by Anna Liza Posas 2012 July. Final processing of collection and publication of finding aid made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).


    Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry National Center as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.


    Assembled by Southwest Museum Library staff circa 1977.

    Custodial history

    Several of the articles were originally from MS. 7 Frederick Webb Hodge Collection. Per a 1923 index for the Hodge Collection, the are articles were originally part of folder 622. Other parts of the Mary Austin Collection also comes from MS.4 George Wharton James Collection and the Southwest Museum Library general acquisition fund. The Mary Austin Collection was assembled by Southwest Museum Library staff circa 1977.


    • Biographical information, 1908-1954
    • Correspodence and ephemera, 1899-1933
    • Published writings by Austin, 1899-1934
    • Reviews of Austin's work, 1931, 1934

    Related Archival Materials note

    Related archival materials: Papers of Mary Hunter Austin, 1845-1950 (bulk 1920-1934) (mssAU 1-5456). The Henry E. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California.
    Carey McWilliams Collection of Material About Mary Hunter Austin (Collection 278). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Hodge, Frederick Webb, 1864-1956
    Lummis, Charles Fletcher, 1859-1928.