University of Arizona

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Frances Douglas Papers

Frances Douglas on Horse in the Tucson Desert, 1925

Author and translator Frances Douglas learned Spanish from reading and from constant conversation with Mexicans and Native Americans living in the area.

Frances was married to journalist, preservationist and activist Charles Fletcher Lummis. Her second husband was mining engineer Courtenay DeKalb, whom she married in 1913.

Frances Douglas began writing and translating Spanish authors in 1909, and her career spanned several decades, over the course of which she translated the works of many Spanish and Latin American authors. Several of her translations of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez were made into motion pictures. She visited Spain while working for the government and visited authors, organizations, and publishers. In 1933, the University of Arizona honored Frances Douglas with an honorary doctor of letters, and she became a charter member of the American Association of University Women. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Frances continued to write and publish translations of her favorite authors, as well as short stories of her own. Additionally, she remained active giving speeches to various local and national women's and book clubs.

The bulk of the papers relate to Frances Douglas' life after 1911. Correspondence with family and Douglas' diaries provide some information regarding her early life. The diary from 1892-1893 documents many of her daily activities in California. 

Douglas' correspondence files for the years following 1911 are resource for those interested in her work and her relationships with authors and other leading scholars of the time. Douglas maintained a copy of her outgoing correspondence. 

Manuscripts contain the drafts of much of her translations as well as copies of articles, short stories, and book reviews she submitted to newspapers and magazines. In some cases, Douglas retained the copy of the work she was translating from Spanish, as well as her notes and vocabulary lists. Of interest is the copy of the American edition of Blasco Ibanez's The Dead Command, which Douglas used to note the recommended changes for the British version of her translation (unpublished). In Series IV Research Files, are Douglas' clippings on authors she translated, photographs of the authors, and clippings of stories she wished to translate. Series V Photographs, in addition to photographs of Douglas, contains a large number of photographs of the children-mostly cyanotypes-taken by Charles Lummis. Photographs of trips, other family members, and Tucson round are also included.