Mary Wheelwright: Her Book


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The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian is proud to announce the publication of Mary Wheelwright: Her Book, the first comprehensive biography of this important figure in the history of New Mexico and the greater Southwest. The book is based on more than fifteen years of oral history and archival research by author Leatrice A. Armstrong, formerly the assistant to the director at the Wheelwright Museum.

On a trip to New Mexico around 1920, Wheelwright (1878–1958) met the influential Navajo ritual singer Hastiin Klah. From that moment forward she devoted her life to an understanding of Navajo spiritual life, as well as to the physical health of Native peoples of New Mexico and the stability of Native American and Spanish New Mexican arts.

To further these interests she served as a trustee of numerous institutions and funded projects of museums and other organizations throughout New Mexico. She eventually created the Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art, now named the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

This biography examines Wheelwright’s upbringing in a wealthy Boston family, her “discovery” of the Southwest, her relationships with artists and activists in New Mexico and elsewhere, and her many achievements.

The book is beautifully printed in a limited edition of 1,500 copies, hardcover only, 352 pp.