Established in 2001 by John Schaefer, former UA President, and Carla Stoffle, then Dean of the University Libraries, the Women Mystery Writers Collection—one of few such research collections in the country—includes works from American women mystery writers, with an emphasis on Southwestern women mystery authors, and holds mystery novels published from the 1950s to present written by female authors who primarily portray female protagonists. Also collected are papers and manuscripts of Southwestern women mystery authors, including the papers of J.A. Jance. With more than 2,500 volumes, the collection serves an interdisciplinary audience conducting research in the areas of literature, creative writing, cultural studies, and women’s studies.
Often times marginalized and overlooked for not being literary fiction, women mystery authors use the popularity of the mystery genre as a vehicle for surfacing social problems and issues. Their novels, while entertaining, also deal with social, cultural and feminist issues. Their protagonists often grapple with these issues in much the same way that everyday people do in the course of their lives yet with an undeniable element of suspense, intrigue, and surprise. Through these efforts women mystery writers have become a strong force in popular literature.
Founding archives included in this collection:
Judith A. (J.A.) Jance (1927-2006)
Betsy Thornton (1980-2010)
Sinclair Browning (1942-2009)
Donis Casey (ongoing)
Rebecca Cramer (1997-2003)
Elizabeth Gunn (1963-2021)