The Benson Latin American Collection

Carmen Tafolla Papers, 1967-2001

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Tafolla, Carmen, 1951-
Title: Carmen Tafolla Papers
Dates: 1967-2001
Abstract: Papers related to the life and work of Texas poet, writer, and educator Carmen Tafolla. The collection documents Dr. Tafolla’s personal life, writing endeavors, work as an educator, and performances of her work.
OCLC Record No.: 22946251
Extent: 7 linear feet
Language: English and Spanish
Repository: Benson Latin American Collection, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Carmen Tafolla was born on July 29, 1951 in the West Side barrios of San Antonio, Texas. Growing up she excelled in San Antonio schools and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and French in 1972 and a Master of Arts degree in Education from Austin College in 1973. Tafolla served as the Director of the Mexican-American Studies Center at Texas Lutheran College from 1973 to 1975 and again from 1978 to 1979. In 1981, she completed her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Bilingual and Foreign Language Education at The University of Texas at Austin. She then embarked on a multi-faceted career, becoming an internationally known writer and educational consultant.

Tafolla has held faculty and administrative positions in universities throughout the Southwest, including Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at California State University Fresno and Special Assistant to the President for Cultural Diversity Programming at Northern Arizona University.

As one of the most highly anthologized of Latina writers, Tafolla’s work appears in more than two hundred anthologies, magazines, journals, readers, and textbooks. She has published five books of poetry, eight illustrated children’s books, seven television screenplays, one non-fiction volume, one collection of short stories, and she has co-authored one feature-length film. In addition to her writing, Tafolla has performed the one-woman theatrical show My Heart Speaks a Different Language throughout the world.

Her writing focuses on peace, justice, and human understanding which earned her the Art of Peace Award in 1999, among other awards throughout her career. Her community and institutional projects are characterized by innovation, valuation of diversity, and multicultural celebration.

Tafolla continues her work today and was recently named the first-ever Poet Laureate of San Antonio. She currently resides in San Antonio, Texas with her husband, Dr. Ernesto M. Bernal, her daughter, and her mother.

Scope and Contents Note

The collection primarily consists of literary and academic manuscripts which reflect Tafolla's activities as a writer, speaker and educator. The collection also includes correspondence, biographical material, poems and poetry collections, short stories, criticism, social commentary, textbooks, school research papers, master's thesis, doctoral dissertation, plays and scripts, instructional materials, notes, and ephemera. Poetry, short stories, and plays often reflect life in the Mexican American barrio of San Antonio. Many of the instructional materials and academic papers relate to bilingual education and racial identity. Titles included in manuscript form are "Curandera" and "To split a human: mitos, machos, y la mujer chicana", and “Sonnets to Human Beings”. Scripts to KLRN television series Sonrisas are also present, including scripts by others edited by Tafolla. Some essays and poems were co-authored by husband Ernest M. Bernal. A book of poems by Reyes Cárdenas, "Anti-bicicleta haiku," and a script and poems by students are also part of the collection.

The collection is arranged into eight series: Personal and Biographical; Academic and Research Papers; Poetry and Prose; Non-fiction and Essays; Literary Criticism and Works by others; Plays and Scripts; Instructional Materials; and Speaking Engagements, Performances, and Readings.

The first series, Personal and Biographical, contains items detailing Carmen Tafolla’s personal life. These are divided into five subseries: Photographs, Vita, Personal Notes, Correspondence, and Press.

Series two, Academic and Reseach Papers, contains items created through Carmen Tafolla's work as a student. The files are arranged alphabetically by title and numerically by dissertation draft number, and there are also several bound notebooks. The series also has one item removed to oversize, containing Carmen Tafolla’s dissertation data printouts.

The third series, Poetry and Prose, contains Dr. Tafolla's poetry, short stories, and children’s work; it also contains multiple drafts of her published book Sonnets to Human Beings. Many of these items represent recurring themes throughout Chicana literature of the period.

Series four, Non-Fiction and Essays, consists of Dr. Tafolla’s non-fiction writing, including several copies of anthologies containing her essays. The files are all arranged alphabetically by title and contain papers, newsprint, and bound materials.

The fifth series, Literary Criticism and Work of Others, includes files arranged alphabetically. They do not include the full length productions by Carmen Tafolla herself, but rather a few essays she composed to critique other literary productions, as well as works by her students and other writers related to her life. The most notable part of the series is the work "Anti-bicicleta Haiku" by Reyes Cardenas.

Series six, Plays and Scripts, is divided into two subseries: Plays and Scripts by Title and Sonrisas. Sonrisas contains drafts and copies of scripts for Dr. Tafolla’s television series of the same name.

The seventh series, Instructional Materials, contains works written by Carmen Tafolla for use by instructors. These materials provide insight on Dr. Tafolla’s interactions with teachers of small children and her work as an educator.

Speaking Engagements, Performances, and Readings, the eighth series, is arranged chronologically. The items include fliers, programs, and feedback from Dr. Tafolla’s public events. It also contains notes for use in her performances.

The ninth series, Oversize Materials,consists of items that were moved from their original series because of size. It includes a poster from an exhibit called "La Familia" as well as newspapers with articles about and interviews with Tafolla.


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Any use, reproduction, or distribution of the Carmen Tafolla papers is restricted under international copyright law. All rights are reserved by Carmen Tafolla. Contact information is available at the Benson library.

Index Terms

The Carmen Tafolla Papers are classified under the following Subject Headings in the University of Texas Libraries catalog:
Tafolla, Carmen, 1951--Archives
Bilingualism in children--Texas
Mexican American poets--Texas
Children's television programs--Texas
American literature--Mexican American authors--History and criticism
Mexican American women
Women and literature--United States--History--20th Century
Mexican American authors
Mexican-American border region--In literature
Other Authors
Bernal, Ernest M.
Cárdenas, Reyes

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Carmen Tafolla Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

Box and Folder Inventory

Personal and Biographical, 1976-2001, undated

1 Photographs
1 Photographs, undated
2 Vita 1, undated
3 Vita 2, undated
Personal Notes
4 Autobiographical notes, undated
5 Blurbs, undated
6 Cultura y Raices: The Beauty of Strength [speech], undated
7 Various Notes, 1979-1982, undated
8 Various Notes, undated
9 De Leon, Nephtali, 1979-1982, 1992
10 Mexican American Studies Center, 1976, undated
11 National Institute of Chicano Writers, 1986-1992
12 San Antonio Hispanic Arts Association, 1983
13 Various, 1980-1989
14 Various, 1990-1999
15 Various, undated
16 "Person to Person with Carmen Tafolla," Interview by Dorey Schmidt, 1992
17 Publishing Documents, undated
18 Various, 1983-2001
19 Various, 1979-2000, undated

Academic and Research Papers, 1971-1981, undated

2 Dissertation
1 Chapter 1 (translation), undated
2 Chapter 2, undated
3 Chapter 3, undated
4 Chapter 4, undated
5 Chapter 5, undated
6 Research Design, undated
7 Time Plan, undated
8 Typed Originals, 1981
9 Early Works, 1971-1977
10 Los Indios De Nuevo Leon (translations), undated
11 Nuevo Reino de Leon, undated
12 Nuevo Reino de Leon (translations), undated
13 "Language Attitudes in Texas: A potential for Change," undated
14 Thesis: A Relevent Educational Environment for the Mexican American Student, 1973
15 Thesis: A Relevent Educational Environment for the Mexican American Student (cont.), 1973
16 "Star Warts: A Worksheet in Curriculum Analysis," 1977

Poetry and Prose, 1967-2001, undated

3 Poetry by title
1 "Between the Borders," undated
2 "As Old as the Earth," undated
3 "Cantos a la Revolución Mexicana", 1975
4 "Como Un Pajarito," 1975
5 Curandera draft, undated
6 Curandera publishers copy, undated
7 Curandera printed copy, 1983
8 In variious publications, 1975, undated
9 "La Isabella de Guadalupe" drafts, 1984
10 "Loca Journals," undated
11 Mosaic, 1986
12 Poets of the New Promesa, 1981
13 "Rebozos," undated
14 Saguaro, Vol.3, 1986
15 Sonnets and Salsa, 2001
4 Sonnets to Human Beings and Other Selected Works
1 Published book, 1992
2 Bilingual German ed., 1992
3 Reviews, 1993
4 Correspondence, undated
5 Various, undated
6 Duplicate Negative Drafts 1A-4D, 1992
7 Partial draft, undated
8 Draft, 1992
9 Draft, undated
box folder
5 1 Draft, undated
2 Draft, undated
3 Draft, undated
4 Draft, Section 1, undated
5 2nd ed. draft, undated
6 Tókos, 1971
6 Short Stories
1 "Chencho's Cow," undated
2 Drafts, various, undated
3 "El Dulcero Y Otros Cuentos," undated
4 "Federico Y Elfiria," undated
5 "I Don't Scream," undated
6 "I Just Can't Bear It," undated
7 "El Mojado no Existe," undated
8 "The Pot Has Eyes," undated
9 "The Queen of Mean," undated
10 "Soul of Dirt and the Holy Tortilla," undated
11 "This Dirt," undated
12 "With Our Very Own Name," undated
13 "You Don't Know Marta," undated
14 "You Never Know," undated
7 Children's Literature
1 "Baby Coyote's Songbook / El Cancionero Del Coyotito," 1 of 2, undated
2 "Baby Coyote's Songbook / El Cancionero Del Coyotito," 2 of 2, undated
3 Children's stories, various, undated
4 Creative Activities for Adventurous Kids, undated
5 The Dog Who Wanted to be a Tiger / El perro que queria ser tigre, 1996
6 "El Dulcero," 1992
7 "A Word From the Author," 1993
8 Patchwork Colcha, A Children's Collection, undated
9 Patchwork Colcha, A Children's Collection, 1987
10 "Mama's Birthday Present," 1993
11 "What Can You Do With A Rebozo?" undated
8 Various
1 Poems, 1967-75
2 Poems, 1971-80
3 Poems A-K, undated
4 Poems M-R, undated
5 Poems S-Y, undated
6 Drafts of poetry, undated
7 Notebook, undated
8 Poetry, undated
9 Poetry drafts, etc., undated
10 Manuscripts, 1 of 3, undated
11 Manuscripts, 2 of 3, undated
12 Manuscripts, 3 of 3, undated
13 Various notes, undated
14 Various written works, undated

Non-Fiction and Essays, 1977-1997, undated

box folder
9 1 "Abuse transcends race and class," 1984
2 "The Art of Education in a Culturally Diverse Society," 1989
3 "Arts, Culture, and the Public Trust: Empowering Society Through Authenticity," undated
4 "A Binational Wealth: Chicanas and Mexicanas in Cultural Growth," undated
5 "Chicano Literature: Beyond Beginnings," 1981, undated
6 "Chicano Literature: Beyond Beginnings (draft)," undated
7 "Cielos," undated
8 "Cielos/An Angel Passed Our Way," 1984
9 "El Desarrollo del Cine Chicano en Texas," undated
10 "The Embodiment of Power in Chicana Poetry," undated
11 "Empowering Students Through Creative Writing," 1989-1990
12 "Expansion of the Church - 1904-1945," undated
13 "Flores de un Arbol Sinfín," 1988
14 "From the Rio Chama to Zoot Suit: The Road to Mythical Realism, A Reaction to Mexican-American Theater: Then and Now," undated
15 "From the Rio Chama to Zoot Suit: The Road to Mythical Realism, A Reaction to Mexican-American Theater: Then and Now" (draft), undated
16 "La Hispana," 1977
17 "La Hispana" (draft), undated
18 "I Was a Barrio Protestant," 1988
19 "Institutional Approaches to Cultural Pluralism," undated
20 "Institutional Options in Denying, Accomodating, or Engaging Cultural Pluralism," undated
21 Introduction to Solitaria J, 1986, undated
box folder
10 1 "Mi Familia," 1995
2 "La Mujer Chicana el los EEUU y la Perspectiva de la Humanidad Total," undated
3 "Myths, Magic, and the Secret of Survival: Hispanics and Education in the 80's" (speech), 1986, undated
4 "The Ones Who Don't Fit In Boxes," undated
5 "An Oppressed Church in Texas," undated
6 "Otras Voces, Otras Cantos," undated
7 "Parenting the Developmentally Disabled Child," 1984
8 "Recognizing the Silent Monster: Racism in the 90's," 1992
9 "A Review of the 2nd St. Poems by Beverly Silva," undated
10 "Reyes Cárdenas," undated
11 "Staying Human," undated
box folder
11 1 "Three Texas Women," undated
To Split a Human: Mitos, Machos, y La Mujer Chicana
2 Typescript draft, 1983
3 Draft 1, undated
4 Draft 2, undated
5 Draft 3, 1985
6 Draft 4, undated
7 Draft 5, undated
8 Draft 6, undated
9 Draft 7, undated
10 Through Chicana's Eyes: The Arts - drafts of chapters 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, undated
box folder
12 1 Through Chicana's Eyes: The Social Sciences, undated
2 "A University for Tomorrow's Children," undated
3 "The Vision and the Will," undated
4 "Visión y Declaración," undated
5 "We Gained an Angel," undated
6 "Women In The Arts: A South Texas Hurricane," 1997

Literary Criticism and Works by Others, 1980, undated

box folder
12 7 Anti-Bicicleta Haiku by Reyes Cardenas, 1980
8 "The Clear Breath of Heritage: The Stories of Patricia Preciado Martin," undated
9 Literary criticism, undated
10 Student screenplay La Pelirroja de Punk y Super-Vato!, undated
11 Poems by others, undated
12 Reviews (by Tafolla), undated
13 Series of Chicana biographies, fairy tales written for MANA honorees, undated
14 Tongues of Magic (Poems by students), undated
15 Tongues of Magic (Poems by students), undated

Plays and Scripts, 1978, undated

13 Plays and Scripts by title
1 El Artista, undated
2 La Falta de Respeto, undated
3 La Familia, undated
4 Jardin Infantil, undated
5 Misa Azteca, undated
6 Not Like the Others, undated
7 Periodico Channel 9, undated
8 Plaza San Cuilmas, undated
9 ¿Quiénes Somos?, undated
10 San Antonio Summer Stock, undated
11 Viva San Antonio, undated
12 Who and What is a Mexican-American, undated
14 Sonrisas
1 "El Derecho de Estar," 1978
2 "A Place to be Yourself," 1978
3 "Lagrimas de Apache," 1978
4 "The Choice," 1978
5 "El Derecho de Estar," 1978
6 "The Need to Touch," 1978
7 "El Curro," 1978
8 "A Chance," 1978
9 "The Rich Dummy," 1978
10 "The Barrio Battle of the Burger," 1978
11 Parents'/Teachers' Guide, 1978
12 Writer's FDA Approved Survival Kit, 1978

Instructional Materials, 1976-1990, undated

box folder
15 1 American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), 1989, undated
2 AASCU, The Lurking Evil: Racial and Ethnic Conflict on the College Campus, 1990
3 Assertive Leadership Workshop, R.I.A. Test (written by Carmen Tafolla), undated
4 "Bilingual Certification at Texas Lutheran College," undated
5 Creative Activities for Adventurous Kids, 1982
6 How to Make a Movie: A Manual For Kids, 1982
7 Information, Training, and Awareness Strategies for Helping to Develop Parent Competency, 1977
8 Parenting and the School Administrator, 1977
9 "¡Perquiamos Vatos!" Conversational Spanish of the Southwest, 1976
10 Supplementary Teachers' Guide: Additional Activities, Topics, and Resources for the Classroom Use of Tejanitos, 1978
11 Various, 1988-1989, undated

Speaking Engagements, Performances, and Readings, 1960-2000, undated

box folder
16 1 1960s
2 1970s
3 1980-1984
4 1985
5 1986
6 1987
7 1988
8 1989
9 1990
10 1991
11 1992
12 1993
13 1994
14 1995
15 1996
16 1997
17 1998
18 1999
19 2000
20 undated

Oversize, 1975-1979, undated

box folder
Flat File 1 Poster - La Familia exhibit, undated
2 Newspapers, 1975-1979, undated