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Ann Roy papers

Identifier: COU:1397

Scope and Contents

This collection of writings, art, fashion, sound recordings and Super-8 films spans 70 years of work by Tulsa-born poet, mystic and political activist Ann Roy. Material in this collection relates to her life as a young girl in Tulsa, Oklahoma; as the wife an historian writing about the Ute Indian Territory; as the artist-wife of an American painter living in Marfil, Mexico; an ex-patriot living in Mexico and raising two sons; as an instructor at Ivan Illich's Centro Intercultural de Documentación, in Cuernavaca; and as a feminist working to bridge the cultures of Mexico and the United States.

Please note: This collection contains photocopies of images depicting violence during the 1978 Sandinista insurrection of Monimbó, Nicaragua. These photographes, taken by Susan Meiselas, were reproduced in Ann Roy's Drums of Monimbo, a translation of journalist Cesar Arias de la Canal's book on the insurrection. These images can be found in Box 7 and Box 15, though they may also be present elsewhere in the collection.


  • Creation: 1958 - 2006

Conditions Governing Access

Research access to original moving image films in this collection is restricted, due to preservation concerns. Contact with a list of desired items and a statement of intended use, which will be evaluated by the Moving Image Archivist based on preservation condition of the desired items and staff availability; please note that access may not be guaranteed for all items.

All analog sound recordings, video formats, and badly deteriorated film held by the Archives must be digitized for research access, due to preservation concerns. If these materials have not previously been digitized, the researcher is responsible for the cost of digitization. Researchers may request access to previously-digitized audiovisual materials that are not online on the CU Digital Library by contacting

Copyright Statement

The University Libraries do not own the copyright to this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers may not make notes, reproductions (including photographs), or other record of any private and personally identifiable information (PPII) located in this collection and may not publish, publicize, or disclose that PPII to any other party for any purpose. Exclusions may apply to researchers who have obtained authorization from the University of Colorado Institutional Review Board to produce human subject research records in de-identified form. All researchers must sign the University Libraries' Private and Personally Identifiable Information Agreement indicating their understanding of the use restrictions for PPII found in this collection. Contact

Biographical / Historical

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Ann Roy attended Mills College in Oakland, CA, where she worked as a poet and a published cartoonist in the style of William Steig. Her book, Absolutely Normal (Houghton Mifflin, 1947) was critically acclaimed. With her first husband Robert Emmitt, she went unacknowledged as the fieldworker who interviewed all the Ute Indian women whose stories contributed to Emmitt's classic book The Last War Trail. With her second husband, the artist John Nevin, she traveled to Italy and Spain and commemorated their experience with a book of photographs and poems, Travels in Italy: A Magic Lantern Show. She later turned this into a slide show with recorded bi-lingual narration with her son Willie. After a brief time drawing and painting in the artist community of Jerome, Arizona, she and Nevin started a family and moved with their two sons in Marfil, Guanajuato. There she worked with local women, designing women's and children's clothing. Her designs utilized fabric from the textile mills in nearby San Miguel de Allende and incorporated traditional folklore designs and embroidery. Inspired by the artistic and international ethos of Eleanor Lambert, she created a women's cooperative that produced a line of clothing which was sold through an outlet in Scottsdale, Arizona.

After the breakup of her second marriage, she moved to Tepoztlán, Morelos, a center for international spritual seekers offering mystic adventurism and hallucinatory experiences. There she worked with the astrologer John Starr Cooke and the feminist Margaret Fiedler. In Tepoztlán, she filmed fantasy Super-8s of her young friends who were exploring identity and magic, often under the influence of LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. With local artist Rita de Tepoztlán she created a series of photographs of Christa, the female Christ.

Roy became known as a leading thinker of feminist cosmology in the area. She taught at the Center for Intercultural Documentation (CIDOC), founded by the former Catholic monsignor Ivan Illich, in Cuernavaca. She taught symbol systems (I Ching, Astrology, Tarot) and one of the first ever courses on women in Mexico. She later broke from her relationship with CIDOC and Illich, over what she termed his "patriarchosis."

Roy moved from Tepoztlán to Pátzcuar in the state of Michoacán. There she deepened her political work centered on the Latin American anti-imperialist movement and the liberation theology that formed its ethical base. She had met the Mexican journalist Cesar Arias de la Canal and, moved by his book chronicling the grassroots efforts of the Sandinista uprising the against the ruling Somoza family, she travelled to Nicaragua to do research and interviews for The Drums of Monimbo, her English translation of his book.

Her final move was to San Miguel de Allende to participate in the community of ex-pats, snowbirds, artists and writers and to join an Alcoholics Anonymous group of her peers. In San Miguel she became involved with the Zapatista movement in Chiapas. Under the nom de plume Fair Witness, she translated Zapatista documents, particularly the writings of Subcommandante Marcos, and attended conferences in the jungle and in several Mexican cities. It was in San Miguel de Allende that she took up poetry again, publishing in anthologies and reading publically in groups like the Live Poets of San Miguel de Allende. She worked closely with Mexican poet Fernando Maqueo, each translating the other's work.

Her oldest son Ian had an international career in computers. Her younger son Willie, an artist, married and had a daughter, Natalia. Both sons died young, within weeks of each other. Ann Roy suffered from myasthenia gravis for several years and passed away on May 24, 2006 at age 80. She left behind a large cache of journals that extensively documented her life since the 1950s.


14 linear feet (37 document boxes, 3 oversize boxes, 7 reels)

Language of Materials



This collection contains the papers of Ann Roy, an American artist, activist, poet, feminist, and student of liberation theology who lived in Mexico from 1958 until her death in 2006. The writing, photographs, artwork, audio-visual objects, and other material in this collection reflects many aspects of her life and career, including founding a women's textile cooperative in Marfil, Guanajuato; teaching women's studies at Ivan Illich's CIDOC (Centro Internacional de Documentacion) in Cuernavaca; translating books and articles about the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua (like Los Tambores de Monimbo by Cesar Arias); and gathering testimonies from Nicaragua and the Zapatistas under the nom de plume of Fair Witness.


This collection is arranged into nine series: 1) writings (including short stories, poetry, journals, and other publications), 2) Marfil material (related to the women's textile cooperative in Mexico), 3) Magic Lantern material, 4) Translation work by Ann Roy, 5) CIDOC teaching material, 6) Live Poets of San Miguel de Allende/Writers' Readings, 7) unsorted papers, 8) photographs and fine art, and 9) motion pictures and sound recordings.

It is possible that translated poems or stories may be mis-categorized under "Writings" rather than "Translations," if the author was not correctly identified.

Jamie Marie Wagner
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States