Charles Bowden Papers
Scope and Contents
The papers of literary journalist Charles Bowden document his prolific career covering topics including the Arizona desert and environmental protection, corruption in politics, and drugs and violence along the U.S.–Mexico border, especially in Juárez. The collection measures 50 linear feet, and is arranged into the following sixteen series: 1) Education, 2) Writing-Newspapers, 3) Writing-Magazine & Freelance, 4) Writing-Monographs, 5) Writing-Unpublished and posthumously published, 6) Writing-Published Essays, 7) Speaking Engagements, 8) Correspondence, 9) Proposals, 10) Research, 11) Photographs, 12) Computer Media, 13) Financial Materials, 14) Other Writers, 15) Audiocassettes and LPs, and 16) Artifacts.
Subject matter and topics often appear in multiple series. Researchers are encouraged to consult all publications materials, as well as the Correspondence, Research, and Photographs series. Materials such as correspondence, research (including audio and video materials), and photographs are placed with the publication they relate to, unless it is unclear or they relate to multiple publications.
Materials in the collection include early educational works through 2007. Materials related to later publications can be found in the Charles Bowden Additions.
- 1947 - 2007
- Majority of material found within 1970 - 2007
- Bowden, Charles, 1945-2014 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Materials from the Wittliff Collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user assumes responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish, and abiding by U.S. copyright laws. https://www.thewittliffcollections.txstate.edu/research/visit/policies/publication.html
Charles "Chuck" Bowden (1945-2014), literary journalist, was born outside of Chicago and raised in Tucson, Arizona, where he lived until 2009. The author of over twenty books; contributing editor for GQ, Esquire, and Mother Jones; and contributor for Harper's Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Aperture, and many other newspapers and magazines, including regional, national, and international publications; Bowden wrote and published widely and extensively on topics including the Arizona desert and environmental protection, corruption in politics, and drugs and violence along the U.S.–Mexico border, especially in Juárez. He is perhaps best known for "While You Were Sleeping," Harper's Magazine, Dec. 1996, which broke the story of violent deaths of women in the border town of Juárez, Mexico in the U.S. English speaking press.
After earning a Master's degree in American Intellectual History and completing doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Bowden returned to Tucson in 1973. In 1981, he landed a job as a reporter at the Tucson Citizen, where he reported on sex crimes and violence–jobs others refused to take. Bowden and his friend Dick Vonier founded and edited a weekly magazine, City Magazine, which ran from 1986-1989 and covered local issues from a progressive point of view.
An avid hiker and outdoorsman, Bowden also wrote extensively about the environment and championed causes such as the Sonoran Desert Park Project. Both Frog Mountain Blues (1987) and Blue Desert (1986), as well as and several photography books for which he wrote essays, including The Sonoran Desert (1992) and the Secret Forest (1993) came out of this connection with the land of the Southwest.
After "While You Were Sleeping," Bowden collaborated with street photographers who were covering crime scenes for daily Juárez papers for Juárez: Laboratory of Our Future (1998). During this time he made friends and contacts who helped him write on drugs and violence on the US–Mexico border for the next eighteen years, including Down by the River (2004), Some of the Dead are Still Breathing: Living in the Future (2009), Dreamland: the Way out of Juárez (2010), Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields (2010), El Sicario: The Autobiography of a Mexican Assassin (2011), as well as numerous magazine and newspaper articles.
Charles Bowden passed away August 30, 2014 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.Bowden Chronology
1945 Born, Joliet, Illinois
- 1948 Age 3, moved from the family farm to Chicago Age 12, moved to Tucson, Arizona
Awards 1984 Pulitzer finalist for Feature Writing for the Tucson Citizen 1996 Hillman Prize from the Sidney Hillman Foundation for "While You Sleeping" 1996 Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction 2001 Lannan Residency Program International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA) Essay Award of Merit for "Lessons from Camp," Arizona Highways 2006 Border Regional Library Association Southwest Book Award for Inferno 2010 Border Regional Library Association Southwest Book Award for Dreamland: The Way out of Juárez 2010 United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow in Literature 2011 Pen Center USA's First Amendment Award
56 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Metadata Rights Declarations
- The descriptive data created for this finding aid is licensed under the CC0 Creative Commons license and is free for use without restriction.
Charles "Chuck" Bowden (1945-2014), literary journalist, was born outside of Chicago and raised in Tucson, Arizona, where he lived until 2009. He passed away in 2014. The papers of Charles Bowden document his prolific career covering topics including nature, political corruption, and the turbulent U.S. – Mexico border region.
Materials may be stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use: https://www.thewittliffcollections.txstate.edu/research/makearesearchappointment.html.
Source of Acquisition
- Guide to the Charles Bowden Papers
- Processed by Joel Minor and Lauren Goodley, 2014. Updated to include unrestricted items in 2021 by Lauren Goodley.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
- 2021: Revised for ArchivesSpace by Lauren Goodley.