Frances Gillmor (1903-1993), was the first Chair of the University of Arizona Folklore Committee, 1945-1972, and founded its archives. A novelist and a professor of English at the University of Arizona, she held an M.A. in English from the University (1931). Her studies in Mexican folklore and cultural anthropology subsequently led her to complete a Doctora en Letras at the Universidad Nacional Autònoma de México, awarded in 1957.
One particular area of interest was the traditional dance dramas of Mexico, a subject upon which she published several studies. In 1959 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to study folk drama at village fiestas in Spain, for comparison with those of Mexico. Many of the transcripts that she collected have been included in this collection.
Juan B. Rael was a fellow scholar and colleague of Frances Gillmor, who shared her interest in Mexican folk drama. Rael collected material for his book The Sources and Diffusion of the Mexican Shepherds' Plays, published in 1965. These materials are unpublished texts or versions, in manuscript or typescript form, collected on field trips to Mexico and the southwestern United States.
This collection is divided into three series: Correspondence, Non-Hispanic Folk Dramas, and Mexican and Spanish Folk Dramas. The third series, Mexican and Spanish Folk Dramas, comprises the bulk of the collection, with thirty-eight items. Most of these folk dramas were collected from Mexico, and range in date from 1837 through1961. These are primarily different local versions of Los Pastores or Los Tastoanes collected by Juan B. Rael for his book, The Source and Diffusion of the Mexican Shepherds' Plays. The items are typewritten transcripts of original manuscripts or interviews, with the exception of one holographic manuscript donated to Dr. Gillmor by Carmen Celia Beltrán, Sarzuela Pastoril Para la Noche-Buena, from 1902.
Most materials are in Spanish.