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Charis Wilson collection

Identifier: AG 200

Scope and Contents

The Charis Wilson collection contains eight series, including Biographical materials, Correspondence, Financial and legal records, Activity files, Publications, Regalia and memorabilia, Photographs, and Audiovisual materials.

The first series, Biographical materials, includes biographical information about Charis Wilson and her family. Early items include poems, her resume, timeline, as well as records from her ex-husband Edward Weston and her two sons, Brett and Cole.

The Correspondence series is divided into two subseries, selected and family. The selected correspondence has letters from different institutions Wilson was in contact with during her lifetime. Many of these institutions write to Charis and Edward Weston, as she was heavily involved with much of his activities. The family series includes correspondence between Charis and Edward Weston, as well as letters to and from Weston’s children, sister and other friends. Some of these letters are originals, while others are photocopies.

Charis Wilson’s financial and legal records are a small series that include her marriage licenses and also her divorce documents. Other items in this series include a deed and ledger of other expenses.

Wilson’s Activity files are the largest series in this collection. This series is divided into seven subseries: Collected articles, Grants and fellowships, Interviews and transcripts, Lectures and workshops, Research notes, Book publishing projects, and Manuscripts. The Collected articles subseries includes articles that Wilson collected over her lifetime that had to do with Edward Weston, Dody Weston, and others that she found significant. Many of the articles contain written notes by Wilson to highlight certain sections of the articles. The Grants and fellowships subseries lists all the projects both Charis and/or Edward were involved with. The most significant of all is the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Grant in which Wilson rewrote the essay in order to assist Weston in his poorly written statement. Wilson granted and conducted many interviews with different institutions and individuals throughout her years. A majority of the interviews contain transcripts, while a few are recorded on cassette tapes. Wilson was also very active in the community by frequently giving lectures and workshops to individuals. Many of her lectures include the transcript as well as the cassette tape, which is clearly labeled, while others only contain one or the other. Wilson was known for her extensive research notes she used and kept in order to complete book projects, articles, and which served as her daily planner at times.

Wilson’s publishing projects included her own and also ones that she assisted Edward on. Each project includes drafts, notes, and other documents pertaining to the project. Note that more may be found in the Research notes subseries. Her publishing projects included: California and the West, Cats of Wildcat Hill, Edward Weston Nudes, Gold Rush Country, Leaves of Grass, Seeing California with Edward Weston, The Last Years in Carmel, and her memoir, Through Another Lens. Through Another Lens contains the most drafts, as her daughter, Rachael, assisted and kept track of them all. There are various duplications of drafts and chapters that were sent back and forth to Charis, Wendy Nadar, and Rachael. Most of these drafts are not dated, not bound, and do not have any type of order. The Manuscripts subseries consists mainly of articles written by Wilson. This series could be easily confused with Publishing Projects, and should reference that series should the information needed not be found.

Wilson’s Publications series includes one poster, as well as numerous books that have inscriptions to Wilson from Edward Weston.

The Photographs series consists of unmounted black and white photographs of Charis Wilson, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, by Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Leon Wilson.

The Regalia and memorabilia series consists of items that include various Mexican trinkets and a sash given to Charis from Edward at the beginning of their friendship. Other highlights of this series include pencil drawings, journals from Nancy Newhall, and Wilson’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center for Photographic Art. Lastly, a small lace book that Leon found on his 1938-1939 visit to Death Valley with Charis and Edward.


  • 1877-2011


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to Chairs Wilson's writings is held by Rachel Fern Harris. Contact archivist for further information.

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.

The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement

Biographical Note

Charis Wilson was married to the photographer Edward Weston from 1939 to 1946. Following Weston’s receipt of a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, they traveled throughout the United States collaborating on the book entitled California and the West, which was illustrated with Weston’s photographs and Wilson’s text. Charis Wilson has written and published more than a dozen articles elaborating Weston’s ideas on photography and the book Cats of Wildcat Hill, which was about their life together in Carmel, California.


12 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


Papers (1877-2011) of Charis Wilson (1914-2009), author. Consists primarily of papers and memorabilia from her friendship with and marriage to the photographer Edward Weston.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Biographical materials, 1877-2011, 2 boxes

Series 2: Correspondence, n.d., 1905-2009, 8 boxes

  1. Subseries 1: Selected correspondence, n.d., 1924-2009, 7 boxes
  2. Subseries 2: Family correspondence, 1905-2009, 2 boxes
  1. Series 3: Financial and legal records, 1939-1946, 5 folders

Series 4: Activity files, n.d., 1905-2009, 14 boxes

  1. Subseries 1: Collected articles, n.d., 1940-1981, 1 folder
  2. Subseries 2: Grants and fellowships, n.d., 1937-2009, 1 folder
  3. Subseries 3: Interviews and transcripts, n.d., 1955-1994, 3 boxes
  4. Subseries 4: Lectures and workshops, n.d., 1977-1992, 1 box
  5. Subseries 5: Research notes, n.d., 1927-1990, 5 boxes
  6. Subseries 6: Book publishing projects, 1905-2000, 5 boxes
  7. Subseries 7: Manuscripts, n.d., 1937-1981, 1 folder
  1. Series 5: Publications, 1932-1987, 2 boxes
  1. Series 6: Regalia and memorabilia, n.d., 1923-1978, 5 boxes
  1. Series 7: Photographs, n.d., circa 1932-1938, 1 box
  1. Series 8: Audiovisual materials, 1977-1990, 1 box

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was a gift/purchase from Rachel Fern Harris, Charis Wilson’s daughter, beginning in 2008.

Related Materials

AG 5: Edward Weston and Johan Hagemeyer collection

AG 6: Edward Weston miscellaneous acquisitions collection

AG 38: Edward Weston archive

AG 143: Brett Weston collection

AG 247: Brett Weston miscellaneous acquisitions collection

Processing Information

Finding aid updated by Leslie Squyres and Alexis Peregoy, June 2016. Finding aid was again updated by Tai Huesgen in June 2020.


Charis Wilson collection 1877-2011
Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
© 2020
Description rules
Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
Language of description
Script of description
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Finding aid encoded in English

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States