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Guide to the Juan Felipe Herrera Papers, ca. 1970-1998 M1043
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Biography
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Access

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: Juan Felipe Herrera Papers
    creator: Herrera, Juan Felipe
    Identifier/Call Number: M1043
    Physical Description: 42 Linear Feet
    Date (inclusive): circa 1970-1998
    Abstract: Manuscripts and other original work, correspondence (mainly incoming), works by other writers and artists (primarily Chicano).

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    Herrera's collection bridges nearly thirty years of his literary career, as well as memorabilia from his childhood and high school years. The collection is divided into seven series, several of which are further divided into subseries and subsubseries. The first series includes mostly incoming Correspondence from well over three hundred writers, artists, friends, and others. The second series, Manuscripts, Journals, and Other Literary Material, contains drafts, notes, sketches, and journal entries spanning the years 1972 through 1998. Arranged in three subseries, manuscript material for many of Herrera's poems, essays, and books appears in the first, while the second subseries is dedicated exclusively to the manuscript development of Mayan Drifter. The third subseries holds journals, notebooks, planners, appointment and phone books with handwritten entries dating from 1977 through 1998. Series 3: Educational Career and Teaching Materials, is further divided into four subseries, covering Herrera's years in the Stanford graduate anthropology program, various workshops and conferences including the Creative Writing workshop at the University of Iowa, syllabi, course materials, and student papers and projects from his classes at CSU-Fresno, and material from his visits to high schools, elementary schools, and workshops with inmates in California correctional facilities. Manuscripts, sketches, chapbooks, student papers, submissions for publication, and other material from over thirty poets, friends, acquaintances, are found in Series 4: Manuscripts and Literary Works by Others, including work by Francisco X. Alarcon, Lauro Flores, Margarita Luna Robles, and Victor Martinez. Series 5: Personal and Legal Papers, Miscellaneous Material gathers a range of materials into five subseries, covering: family documents; legal papers regarding a literary lawsuit directly involving Herrera and a murder trial peripherally involving his friend Francisco Alarcon; award announcements and newspaper articles concerning Herrera or acquaintances; flyers, handbills, and other types of announcements regarding poetry readings or appearances by Herrera; and similar material regarding appearances by friends and acquaintances of Herrera. The Photographs and Slides found in Series 6 are broken into two subseries, the first featuring: images of Herrera's involvement with mural projects in San Diego; various theatre groups and poetry readings; items submitted for publications edited by Herrera; pictures of Herrera and friends, covering the time period between the early 1970s to 1998. Also in this subseries can be found a photograph of his uncles in Texas during the 1920s. The second subseries contains photographs and slides of Herrera's 1970 trip to Mexico, with a few images from a later visit in 1993. Audio-Visual Materials are found in Series 7, and contain audio tapes, both four-track cassette and reel to reel, and visual media consisting of video cassettes in various formats, and film in 8 mm and 16 mm widths. The material recorded in this series includes: interviews with poets and artists; performances of theatre groups associated with Herrera; video productions featuring Herrera or produced by friends; sound and visual from Herrera's 1970 trip to Mexico; and various recordings of student projects.


    Juan Felipe Herrera is the son of Mexican migrant workers and is an accomplished writer who has been honored with National Endowment for the Arts grants (1980, 1985), the American Book Award (1987), four California Arts Council grants, the UC Berkeley Regent's Fellowship, the Breadloaf Fellowship in Poetry and the Stanford Chicano Fellows Fellowship. His publications include thirteen collections of poetry, prose, short stories, young adult novels and picture books for children in the last decade with nineteen books in total His poetry and essays have appeared in both small presses (Bilingual Press and Curbstone) as well as mainstream publishing concerns (University of Arizona Press and Vintage). His works have been translated to Spanish by Mexico's most important publisher, the Fondo de Cultura Economica. Other translations include German and Serbo-Croatian. For his literary endeavors, Herrera has garnered the Ezra Jack Keats Award, the Hungry Mind Award of Distinction, the Americas Award, the Focal Award, the Pura Belpré Honors Award, the Smithsonian Children's Book of the year, the Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice, the IRA Teacher's Choice, the LA Times Book Award Nomination, the Texas Blue Bonnet Nomination, the New York Public Library outstanding book for high school students and two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards. Born in Fowler, California, a small town southeast of Fresno, Herrera traveled with his parents on the seasonal crop circuit, eventually settling in the San Diego area at the age of eight. Upon graduation from San Diego High School in 1967, he was awarded a federal Educational Opportunity Grant and went on to UCLA, earning a B.A. in social anthropology. While at UCLA, Herrera became interested in the performance work of Luis Valdez's El Teatro Campesino, and subsequently formed his own theatre group, Teatro Tolteca. In 1970, with funding from UCLA's Mexican American Center, Herrera traveled to Mexico to study indigenous theatrical expression. The combination of "teatro and the journey through Mexico changed my [his] life forever", and Herrera returned invigorated with a new sense of identity and purpose. His first major work, Rebozos of love we have woven sudor de pueblos on our back, appeared in 1974, and in 1977 he was accepted into Stanford University's graduate program in anthropology, earning an M.A. in 1980. Herrera's restless spirit, however, continued to find more creative outlets in poetry. His Exiles of Desire appeared 1983, a thematic collection exploring the darker side of urban existence, followed in 1987 by Facegames and Akrilika in 1989. With his literary career on the rise, Herrera enrolled in the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop in 1988, attaining the status of fellow with the distinction of Excellence in 1990. Awarded an M.F.A. in creative writing that same year, he joined the Department of Chicano and Latin-American Studies at California State University-Fresno. Throughout the 1990s, Herrera continued to produce collections of poetry in addition to his teaching load of creative writing and theater production. In 1995, Calling The Doves / El Canto De Las Palomas, poetry based on Herrera's childhood experiences in the farming fields of California was released, which brought Herrera into third and fourth grade classrooms across the United States both in print and in person. The fate of indigenous people as they succumb to the pressures of modernization was the subject of his 1997 release Mayan Drifter: Chicano Poet in the Lowlands of America, the result of Herrera's continuing quest to examine identity and culture in the crosscurrents of post-colonial Mesoamerica. He has three forthcoming books and is currently producing "The Twin Tower Songs," a San Joaquin Valley performance memorial on the September 11th tragedy and writing for the PBS television series "American Family." Mr. Herrera is a board member of the Before Columbus American Book Awards Foundation and the California Council for the Humanities. Promoted to Full Professor in 1998, Herrera was elected to the Chair of the Department. Of Chicano and Latin American Studies at California State University-Fresno in 2001.
    Note: This biographical sketch includes information gathered from the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Chicano Writers, Second Series, Volume 122; and from Juan Felipe Herrera's most recent curriculum vita, dated March, 2003.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased, 1999.

    Preferred Citation

    Juan Felipe Herrera. M1043. Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.


    There are no restrictions on access.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Mexican American art
    American literature -- Mexican American authors
    Mexican Americans
    Herrera, Juan Felipe