Currently research at the
Chávez History Library is by appointment only
contact Heather McClure at
Chávez History Library
120 Washington Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501
The Louis Kraft Collection
The Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, which is part of the New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been a research center for me since the 1980s (when it was known as the History Museum of New Mexico). In 2001, curator Tomas Jaehn suggested that I consider housing my work and letters at the library. Honored by such an offer, I visited Tomas in Santa Fe to discuss the details and to sign the paperwork that created “The Louis Kraft Collection.”
The collection houses my work on Ned Wynkoop, Cheyenne Indians, Charles Gatewood, Geronimo, Apache Indians, George Armstrong Custer, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Havilland as well as my correspondence with writers, historians, editors, actors, and directors. The collection is a living entity and continues to grow with my research and writing projects (which aren’t delivered until after publication). The archive includes articles, talks, books (fiction and nonfiction), and plays, as well as work completed in various other formats. It also includes artwork and photographs of my world and the people in it.
In the future the archive will also house my Indian wars and Golden Age of Hollywood research and memorabilia.
The finding aid to the Louis Kraft Collection can be viewed online at http://rmoa.unm.edu/printerfriendly.php?docId=nmsm1ac402.xml (Unfortunately the archive has not been updated for the linear feet is at least 20, and that doesn’t include the photo archive). If you are in need of any particular records or materials that you cannot find in the finding aid, please feel free to contact Librarian Archivist Heather McClure at the above phone and email address or Louis Kraft at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway now races toward publication. The peer reviews have been pristine, and one claimed that it would the preeminent book on the subject. This manuscript, which has been so long in the making, is close to publication. The key files will soon be archived at the Chávez for you to review.
I’m thrilled to be associated with the Chávez Library, for it is a first-class historical library and archive.
Tomas Jaehn, the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library & two ladies in LK’s life
My first trip to Santa Fe was a visit to the New Mexico History Museum to research Ned Wynkoop in 1987. At that time Orlando Romero was in charge. Orlando was open and helpful. At that time he was restoring his family adobe home in Nambé Pueblo, which is at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains about 16 miles north of Santa Fe. He was getting close to finishing his project and was excited, telling me that he would soon retire (and he did).
I don’t remember exactly when Orlando retired, but soon after he did (or perhaps before he did), the New Mexico History Museum moved its document collections to the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library. The New Mexico History Museum didn’t cease to exist, and let me say that some of the treasures it holds are marvels. I know, for one day years back Charles Bennett, former assistant director of the Palace of the Governors, took daughter Marissa and I into the depths of this historic site and we saw them.
… Soon after Orlando’s retirement I returned to Santa Fe to continue my Wynkoop research.
It was at this time that I met Tomas Jaehn, who replaced Orlando. I cannot say enough good things about Tomas. He has helped my writing and research in so many ways, that if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have completed some of the projects that I have over the years, and I’m certain that some of the articles and certainly Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek would have taken longer to complete and see print. In 2001 Tomas approached me about creating the Louis Kraft Collection. I liked the idea but it took a year for me to make a delivery and sign the contract.
Over the years Tomas and his family have become good friends, and we visit whenever possible.
A primary goal of visiting Santa Fe was and is (as this goal is ongoing) to introduce Pailin to this marvelous city and New Mexico. We both love Los Angeles and Pailin has a wonderful family of Thai friends living there (LA has the largest Thai population in the U.S., and better there are over 200 languages spoken in Los Angeles, which the LA Times claims is the largest number of languages spoken in one city in the U.S.), which means that living in Los Angeles is very important to her and I. She is also aware that Los Angeles is a very expensive location to call home, and the prices climb continuously (I’m taxed to be a writer using a computer in our home even though I don’t claim Tujunga House as a write off and she is taxed big time as a Thai massage therapist contractor). There were two other primary goals for visiting Santa Fe: Making a delivery to the LK Collection and to continue my research at the Chávez.
On Monday morning, October 6, we met Tomas at the New Mexico History Museum complex, which has been recently built, and now uses an elevator as the official entry into the Chávez. We walked to his favorite coffee shop and enjoyed coffee (see above photo). Afterwards I made the delivery, which included: Ned Wynkoop material (recent articles in the December 2013 and the August 2014 issues of Wild West magazine; an article in True West magazine; a review of the NPS brochure on Wynkoop & accompanying blog; review of Leo Oliva’s Wynkoop bio for Wynkoop’s induction into the Santa Fe Trail Hall of Fame; reviews of Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek; and recent talks on Wynkoop), information about LK’s relationship with Pailin Subanna and their marriage, five DVDs (three Wynkoop talks, one Gatewood-Geronimo talk, and the 2012 Wrangler awards in Oklahoma City), and about 100 photos (including art, collages, LK’s freelance-writing life, and Pailin Subanna-Kraft).*
* Although LK and Glen Williams made a delivery to Tomas in Williams, Arizona, in September 2011, a delivery that mainly focused on the creation of Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (and also included a photo delivery), it and a delivery that my daughter Marissa and I made to the has not yet been added to the Louis Kraft Collection in June 2012, which basically dealt with a 2011 Wild West article (“When Wynkoop was Sheriff” winning the Western Heritage Museum’s prestigious Wrangler Award and Ned Wynkoop and the Long Road from Sand Creek being a runner-up for the Wrangler. During this 2014 trip Pailin and I made yet another delivery, which included the Wynkoop book being a finalist for the Western Writers of America Spur award. It is hoped that the 2011, 2012, and 2014 deliveries will be added at the same time so that this information related to Ned Wynkoop’s life walking between the races becomes available to researchers. Currently the LK Collection includes 18 linear feet; with the addition of the 2011, 2012, and 2014 deliveries the collection should grow to 23 or 24 linear feet.
After completing the delivery Pailin and I did research in the Chávez archives. We were looking for subjects for magazine articles as well as additional information for Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, and this included more research on Wynkoop, Sand Creek, and Kit Carson (which Pailin and I researched in Taos, and would also research at the Bosque Redondo in southeast New Mexico (if you don’t know, Kit Carson is going to play a large role in my upcoming writing future). Tomas had brought out one of the library’s latest acquisitions, which I have been aware of since the document had been made available to the Chávez and dealt with the Sand Creek tragedy.
I must add that although Pailin had done a lot of work in Colorado both in archives and in the field in Santa Fe my research demands wiped her out. There was nary a complaint as she smoothly completed each research task I asked of her, and as they related to her photographic capabilities she never had a chance to rest. Yes, I am a slave driver.
I am also aware that those of you that haven’t read the blogs have no idea who Pailin is. My apologies to her and to you. Time is short and I’m constantly behind on everything that I must deliver to this website/blog and to the publishers that kindly buy my work. Below is one of my favorite images from her introduction to the American West (and if all goes well, someday she and I will live in New Mexico, … and if not in a far-off land of sand, surf, mild temperatures, and endless blue skies (don’t ask).
Just so you know, when there is time Pailin will be introduced to you on the website.