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College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences News

Rudolfo A. Anaya: In Memoriam

by Portia Vescio on 2020-07-01T20:10:00-06:00 in Library, CSWR, Southwest Studies & New Mexico, Chicano/a Studies | Comments

Rudolfo A. Anaya

October 30, 1937 – June 28, 2020


Rudolfo A. Anaya Papers (MSS 321), Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections,
University of New Mexico Libraries.



Rudolfo Anaya          PICT 2013-004-b3-f2-0001


It was very sad news for the staff of the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections (CSWR) to hear of Rudolfo Anaya’s passing on Sunday, June 28.  Rudolfo Anaya was a nationally renowned and noted writer, novelist, and children’s book author and was often considered the “godfather” of Chicano/a literature. Some of his books are required reading for many English Literature and Chicano Studies programs throughout the US. In addition, many of his books are also translated into various languages and read worldwide.  He is particularly recognized for his 1972 novel Bless me, Ultima, which was subsequently adapted into a film and an opera.  Furthermore, Bless me, Ultima remains a staple literary “must” in New Mexico high schools.  Mr. Anaya joined the English faculty at the University of New Mexico in 1975, where he taught until his retirement in 1993.  His productive writing career and teaching accomplishments would fill pages and pages and pages.

	Denise Chávez, Rosalinda Barrera, and Rudolfo Anaya











Rudolfo Anaya with Denise Chavez and Rosalinda Barrera        PICT 2013-004-b3-f2-0002


More importantly to us, Rudolfo was a friend and great supporter of CSWR.  Many of us who had the opportunity to meet him got to know a humble and gentle man who knew the importance of archival materials and historical documentation of literary papers.  Even some of our students had the opportunity to meet Mr. Anaya late last year.

Understanding the importance of literary papers (including his own), for teaching, research, and for literary and cultural history in New Mexico, Mr. Anaya entrusted his personal archives to the CSWR in 2005 and donated additional personal papers in December 2019. The Rudolfo A. Anaya Papers contain over seventy archival boxes of material created and collected by Mr. Anaya documenting his professional life. Within the collection are draft manuscripts (some annotated) of published and unpublished works such as Bless me, Ultima, The Legend of La Llorona, and The Heart of Aztlán, materials from his career as a professor in the UNM English department, and his work involving Chicano(a) identity, politics, and literature. It also contains material from his involvement on numerous boards and committees, correspondence with colleagues, students, notables, and publishing companies. In addition to the manuscript documents, the collection also has a great variety of clippings and photos, numerous honors and awards given to Mr. Anaya, and posters and graphics advertising his lectures and produced works. His National Humanities Medal, presented to him by President Barack Obama in 2016, is proudly and prominently displayed in the CSWR’s foyer.

  Manuscript cover page from Heart of Aztlan                                                                undefined

Heart of Aztlán, cover page. Rudolfo Anaya Papers (MSS 321 Box 1, Fd. 9)                              President Barack Obama and Rudolfo Anaya.  Courtesy of


Because of Rudolfo Anaya’s literary and cultural significance to New Mexico and to honor his legacy, UNM Libraries’ Department of Digital Initiative and Scholarly Resources (DISC) created the Rudolfo Anaya Digital Archive, a comprehensive online guide to his life and work.  Oral histories, draft manuscripts, book covers, and an extensive bibliography of Anaya resources are available in the online archive.

CSWR staff, and indeed, the entire UNM Libraries community is deeply saddened by Mr. Anaya’s death, one of New Mexico’s great writers and cultural icons.  While his passing is a great loss, by placing his papers with CSWR he left an incredible gift to New Mexico. His work will be treasured and preserved in perpetuity in the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections for future generations to enjoy.

For detailed descriptions of the material in the Rudolfo A. Anaya Papers please see the CSWR finding aid at

To access the Rudolfo A. Anaya Digital Archive, please visit


Rudolfo Anaya

Photograph of Rudolfo Anaya taken as part of "The Writers of the Southwest Project" by Cynthia Farah Haines, PICT 986-008


Blog post written by CSWR Staff

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