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Maria Chabot Papers

Maria Chabot Papers

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Open Finding Aid

Finding Aid to the Maria Chabot Papers, 1866-2002, undated

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
217 Johnson Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Collection Overview

Repository: Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Title: Maria Chabot Papers
Dates: 1866-2002, undated
Quantity: 74.4 Linear Feet
Abstract:The Maria Chabot Papers documents the life and work of Maria Chabot. The bulk of the items date from 1933 to the 1990s. They are biographical materials, correspondence, research, writing, materials related to her friendships, and materials related to her interests and many projects in the American Southwest.
Identification: MS.40
Language: English

Biographical and Historical Note

Maria Chabot (1913-2001) was a writer and an advocate for Native American and Spanish Colonial artistic traditions. Chabot's paternal grandfather was British consular agent at San Luis Potosi, Mexico in the 1860s. He later settled with his family in San Antonio, Texas where Chabot was born on September 18, 1913. In 1933, at nineteen years old, she traveled to Mexico City. There she met painter Dorothy Stewart and her sister Margretta Stewart Dietrich and notable Mexican artists including Jose Clemente Orozco. Chabot accepted Stewart's invitation to return to Santa Fe, New Mexico with her in 1934, where she took a job with the New Mexico Department of Vocational Education, and then in 1935 with the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Board. Under the auspices of these agencies and as part of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) initiative she photographed and documented Native American and Spanish Colonial arts and crafts in the Southwest. In 1936, with New Mexico Association on Indian Affairs president Margretta Dietrich, Chabot helped to establish Santa Fe's "Indian Market" as a weekly event modeled on Mexican outdoor markets and held under the Santa Fe Palace of the Governors portal. She also proposed that native artists be allowed to set their own prices. These art markets became the popular annual Santa Fe Indian Market.

Through her association with Stewart and work with the WPA Chabot met Mary Cabot Wheelwright, founder of the Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art (renamed the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.) Wheelwright became Chabot's benefactor and employed her to manage her property, the historic Los Luceros hacienda in Alcalde, New Mexico. Chabot oversaw labor and supervised agriculture. She also became president of the local irrigation association, an unusual position for a woman at the time, and adjudicated disputes over water rights. Chabot was deeded Los Luceros after Wheelwright's death but sold it in the 1960s.

Wheelwright introduced Chabot to Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico in 1940. Chabot was twenty-six and an aspiring writer and O'Keeffe was fifty-three and an important artist. From 1941 to 1944, Chabot spent summers with O'Keeffe at the artist's Ghost Ranch house. Chabot had intended to write, but spent most of her time managing activities at the ranch. She also often accompanied O'Keeffe on camping trips throughout northern New Mexico on which the artist created many of her paintings. In 1946, Chabot agreed to manage the rebuilding of an adobe hacienda on a hilltop in Abiquiu, 48 miles northwest of Santa Fe. She supervised the building crew and participated in design decisions for what became O'Keeffe's primary residence. The friendship between Chabot and O'Keeffe endured until O'Keeffe's death in 1986.

In 1996, Chabot was named a "Living Treasure" of Santa Fe. She died in 2001, at eighty-seven years old, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Scope and Contents Note

The Maria Chabot Papers contains materials collected by Maria Chabot. Included are personal records; diaries and travel diaries; extensive correspondence dating from 1933 to 2001 with colleagues, family, and friends; interviews with Chabot; photographs, slides, and negatives; notebooks, research notes, writings, brochures, photocopies, and other miscellaneous papers; as well as a small number of materials related to Chabot family history including family albums, histories, photographs and records. The bulk of the materials relate to Maria Chabot's research, writing, and literary work. There are more than 60 drafts or completed short stories, novels, and non-fiction materials that Chabot generated over the years, along with rejection letters she received from publishers; copies of the published articles on Indian arts and crafts that she wrote in the 1930s; and documents, notes, photographs, records and reports she generated when attending conferences, taking courses and working on various projects. Chabot undertook significant projects in the 1930s and 1940s, including a photographic survey of Southwestern native and traditional arts and crafts with artist Dorothy N. Stewart; stewardship of the Los Luceros hacienda, deeded to her by museum founder Mary Cabot Wheelwright; and an unpublished book on her time as a companion of Georgia O'Keeffe at Ghost Ranch and the renovation of O'Keeffe's home in Abiquiu, New Mexico. The collection also contains books, newspaper and magazine clippings, art work, photographs, ephemera, and audiovisual materials of interest to Maria Chabot and which she collected over her lifetime.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Maria Chabot Papers, 1866-2002, undated. Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

Credit Line

Gift of Maria Chabot.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum 2013 by the Maria Chabot Literary Trust.

Processing Information

Initial processing of this collection was done by Kaye Marks. Further processing and final arrangement and description was supported by a New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board grant and completed by Laura Ward in 2017.


Ownership and Rights

This collection is the physical property of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. The collection is subject to all copyright laws. The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply. Contact the Archivist for further copyright and publication information as it pertains to this collection.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public for research purposes. Select materials in this collection may be restricted for reasons of cultural sensitivity or for privacy. Materials related to the Christiane Gallet biography are restricted.

Copy and Reproduction Restrictions

Photocopies or digital images of materials may be made for research purposes only.

Access Terms

Access Terms

American Association on Indian Affairs
Bailey, Dana Kavanagh, 1916-1999
Bayou Seco (Musical group)
Bry, Doris, 1920-2014
Cohen, Saul
Dietrich, Margretta Stewart, 1881-1961
Gallet, Christiane
Ghost Ranch (Abiquiu, N.M.)
Gilpin, Laura, 1891-1979
Haskell, Barbara, b. 1946
Los Luceros (Alcalde, N.M.)
Lowe, Sue Davidson, b. 1922
Lynes, Barbara Buhler, b. 1942
Mie Shu, Ou
Museum of Fine Arts (Museum of New Mexico)
Museum of International Folk Art
National Register of Historic Places
New Mexico. Division of Vocational Education
Ogata, Sohaku, 1901-1973
O'Keeffe, Georgia, 1887-1986
Orozco, Jose Clemente, 1883-1949
Pena, Doris Tse-Pe
Red Mountain -- Drawings
San Idelfonso Pueblo
Santa Fe Indian Market
Stewart, Dorothy Newkirk, 1891-1955
Udall, Sharon
United States. Indian Arts and Crafts Board
United States. Works Progress Administration
Wheelwright, Mary C., 1878-1958
Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941

Related Material

The Maria Chabot Archive related to Georgia O'Keeffe MS.6 / RC.2001.2 is located at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

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