Wyoming Author Box Donates Papers to UWs American Heritage Center

October 22, 2010
Man wearing cowboy hat
Wyoming author C.J. Box

Matt Francis' good idea has turned into a good amount of work.

The American Heritage Center's specialist on the papers of authors and journalists, Francis first approached best-selling Wyoming author C.J. Box in April and encouraged him to donate his papers -- including writing drafts, research files, clippings, interviews and other correspondence -- to the University of Wyoming. The conversation restarted in September when Box toured the AHC and began researching some of the center's digital collections.

A few weeks later, Box showed up with the first seven boxes of his personal archives.

"We have established building our collections of Wyoming authors and significant Western fiction and poetry as one of our priorities, and C.J. certainly fits those criteria," says Francis, an archivist at the AHC, the university's manuscript repository, university archives and rare books library. "Additionally, the quality of C.J.'s work, as seen through the accolades that he has received, along with his high productivity, makes his papers a very valuable addition to our current holdings."

A Wyoming native and best-selling author, Box rose to prominence with the first of his Joe Pickett mysteries, "Open Season," which was included on the New York Times' "Notable Books" list in 2001. He has since written 11 more novels -- including "Blue Heaven," which won an Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel of 2008 -- and his works are now published in 25 different languages.

"I was honored to be asked by Matt to contribute my papers to the AHC," says Box, who lives near Cheyenne. "I'm a little embarrassed not to have known that such a terrific and professional facility was located at the University of Wyoming. It's an amazing complex."

In addition to donating his papers, Box has recently examined some of the center's other collections, including the sizeable photographic collection of Charles Belden, and says "writers and researchers will be impressed to find what's available at the AHC. I know I was."

One of the largest non-governmental archival institutions in the United States, the AHC won the Society of American Archivists' (SAA) Distinguished Service Award this year. It is the most prestigious honor that can be bestowed on an institution by the nation's primary organization dedicated to ensuring the identification, preservation and use of records of historical value.

The AHC's collections focus on Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West and nationally on the topics of environment and conservation, the mining and petroleum industries, air and rail transportation, the performing arts (particularly radio, television, film, and popular music), journalism, U.S. military history and book history.

To learn more about the AHC, go to the official Web site at http://ahc.uwyo.edu.

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