Anita Brenner, author of children's literature and books on
Mexican art and history, contributed articles to numerous magazines and
newspapers, worked on the editorial staff of
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and
Editorial Albatros, and founded
the monthly magazine
Mexico/ This Month. After
studying at Our Lady of the Lake College in San Antonio, the University of
Texas at Austin, and the National University of Mexico, she received a Ph.D.
Anthropology from Columbia University in 1934, under the direction of Franz
Boas. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, 1930-1932, for the study of
Aztec art in Europe and Mexico. Born in 1905 to Jewish immigrants in
Aguascalientes, Mexico, Brenner maintained a life-long interest in art, as well
as Jewish and political activism. In addition, she operated a farming business
in Aguascalinetes for many years.
All aspects of her personal and professional career are
reflected in her papers received by the Ransom Center as a gift from her
children, Susannah and Peter Glusker. Following Brenner's death in an
automobile accident in 1974, her papers remained in storage until retrieved
her daughter for use in writing the biography
Anita Brenner: A Mind of Her Own.
The collection was accompanied by estate lists of numbered folders which are
referenced in the footnotes of Glusker's biography. This information was
transferred to new folders when the material was rehoused at the Ransom Center.
As much as possible, original order has been retained, along with Brenner's
folder titles. However, in some cases, brittle folder tabs were missing and
contents summaries had to be extrapolated.
The collection is organized in seven series: I. Books; II.
Literary and Research Files; III. Correspondence, 1920s-1981; IV. Agricultural
Mexico/This Month, 1955-1971; VI.
Personal; and VII. Publications.
The first series contains material on several award-winning
books for children,
The Boy Who Could Do Anything,
I Want to Fly, and
The Timid Ghost. Brenner's book
on Mexican art,
Idols Behind Altars (1929); her
history of the Mexican Revolution,
The Wind That Swept Mexico (1943
and University of Texas Press reprint, 1972); and a travel guide,
Your Mexican Holiday (1932) are
also represented. Included in this series are unpublished book projects such
a novelized work on Luis de Carvajal and the Carvajal family, a biography of
Gonzalo de Guerrero, and a children's book on Moses. A scrapbook of reviews and
articles about Brenner's activities during the 1930s provides details of her
research travels and the impact of her published works.
Series II, the largest series in the collection, contains
Brenner's literary and research files, including relevant correspondence.
Brenner maintained her working files in subject order, including many articles
written during her career as a correspondent, contributor, and columnist for
magazines and newspapers such as
Brooklyn Daily Eagle,
Jewish Morning Journal,
Jewish Telegraphic Agency,
New York Evening Post,
The New York Times Sunday Magazine,
North American Newspaper
Alliance. Her journalistic career was particularly fertile during the
seventeen year period between 1927-1944 when she lived in New York and was
closely associated with radical political intellectuals and art movements.
There are numerous folders under the headings "Art," "Mexico," and the "Spanish
Civil War," topics which preoccupied much of Brenner's research and writing
throughout her career. The section on the war in Spain follows an arrangement
derived from lists compiled by the Brenner Estate, containing content
descriptions for 121 folders of material. Many newspaper clippings, political
broadsides, and publications are found in this section. Because this material
dates from the early 1930s, much of it is brittle and in poor condition.
Also of interest in Series II is the photographic material
gathered during Brenner's Guggenheim Fellowship for the study of pre-Spanish
American art objects in Europe and Mexico. She obtained several hundred
photographic prints and negatives of terracotta objects and masks from museums
in Germany, Spain, England, France, Austria, and Mexico. The photographs are
numbered and described on index cards, although the indexing is not complete.
Access to the negatives is restricted.
Numerous research files are labeled"
Fortune material" in reference to
an October 1938 article Brenner wrote for a special
Fortune issue on the
expropriation of foreign oil companies by President Cardenas.
In all, the material in Series II covers the majority of
Brenner's non-book literary output from the early 1920s to projects she was
working on at the time of her death.
The bulk of Brenner's correspondence is found in Series III,
arranged alphabetically by correspondent, with subject files included. There
considerable family correspondence, especially letters between Brenner and
husband, David Glusker, during their times apart from 1929 through their
separation in 1951. These detailed, often daily, reports of mutual activity
offer a diary-like record of day-to-day events. Other correspondents include
Diego Rivera, and
Edward Weston. Brenner's activities in
numerous professional and political associations are also well-represented,
are her interactions with publishers.
The agricultural files in Series IV document Brenner's
operation of Rancho La Barranca, the family farm in Aguascalientes, an
eight-hour drive from Mexico City. From 1961 until her death, she oversaw
growing, harvesting, and marketing of a variety of fruit and produce. These
files document her struggle to raise crops suitable to the climate and bring
them to markets in the United States and Mexico.
Series V contains the business files of Brenner's monthly
Mexico/ This Month which she
published in Mexico City from 1955-1971. With the assistance of the Mexican
government and the Committee of U.S. Citizens for Mexico,
Mexico/ This Month sought to
improve social and business relations between Mexico and the United States by
promoting American travel, investment, and retirement in Mexico. This series
divided into two subseries: Subseries A. Correspondence and Office Files, and
Subseries B. Production Material. Subseries A combines all working files into
one alphabetical arrangement, including sizeable subject groups such as
financial records, promotional material, and subscriptions. The production
material in Subseries B includes layouts, color separations, and printing
blocks for visual material published in the magazine. A substantial number of
lead-plated wooden cliches are present in the collection.
The personal papers in Series VI includes academic records,
biographical material, diaries from 1925-1933, medical records, family
photographs, and personal documents.
Numerous publications are included with the collection. These
are listed in Series VII in three subseries: Subseries A. Magazines and
Journals, Subseries B. Pamphlets and Reprints, and Subseries C. Newspapers.
This material supports Brenner's research and writing interests, especially
the areas of art and politics. Newspapers and publications related to the
in Spain are particularly well-represented. Due to age and paper quality,
of this material is brittle.
A nearly complete run of
Mexico/ This Month and several
reels of film were transferred to appropriate departments within the Ransom