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Judson Crews papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 536

Scope and Contents

The Judson Crews Papers provide evidence of the personal and professional life of American poet Judson Crews between 1930 and 1991. The papers document Crews' career as a poet, printer, and small-press publisher, and consist of correspondence, writings, and personal papers. As the Papers illustrate, Crews and his wife Mildred Tolbert, a photographer and writer, were members of the artistic community in Taos, New Mexico in the mid-twentieth-century. There is also some material relating to Crews' friendship with Henry Miller.

Crews' creative life is reflected in his writings and correspondence. The papers include various drafts of his poetry and other writing projects, such as "Henry Miller and the Millennial Oranges of Big Sur," and an unpublished memoir. Some manuscripts are listed under Crews' pen names, such as Charley John Greasybear, Cerise Farallon, and Toby Macadams. Crews' correspondence similarly reflects his literary circle, with correspondents including Joanie Whitebird, who was a writer, editor, publisher, and founder of Wings Press, Phil Nurenberg of Happy Rock Press, and poet Carol Bergé. There are also letters between Crews and Wendell Anderson, a friend and collaborator who also wrote a thesis on Crews titled A Critical Analysis of Poems by a Contemporary Poet of the Avant-Garde: Judson Crews (a copy of which is in the papers). The Papers also include the work of other artists, such as photographs by Mildred Tolbert and writings by Carol Bergé, Wendell Anderson, and others.

Crews' personal life is recorded in his correspondence with his wife Mildred Tolbert, daughters Anna Bush Crews and Carole Judith Crews, as well as Carol Bergé, with whom he was involved romantically.

To a lesser degree the papers relate to Crews' career as a social worker and instructor, with correspondence regarding the New Mexico Department of Hospitals and Institutions, Crews' Master's Thesis on The Treatment of Social Problems in Recent Southern Literature, and teaching materials.


  • circa 1930-1991


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Judson Crews Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Judson Crews, 1972-1991.


Organized into eleven groupings: I. 1972-1980 Acquisitions, 1930-1983. II. August 1986 Acquisition, 1984-1985. III. July 1987 Acquisition, 1982-1987. IV. August 1987 Acquisition, 1982-1987. V. May 1989 Acquisition, 1987-1988. VI. January 1990 Acquisition, 1981-1989. VII. April 1990 Acquisition, undated. VIII. November 1990 Acquisition, 1978-1981. IX. February 1991 Acquisition, undated. X. August 1991 Acquisition, 1984-1991. XI. Undated Acquisition, 1980-1984.

Material within this collection has been organized by acquisition reflecting the fact that the collection has been acquired in increments over time. Researchers should note that material within each acquisition overlaps with or relates to material found in other acquisitions (e.g., correspondence, writings, and personal papers can be found in all groupings). In order to locate all relevant material within this collection, researchers should consult each acquisition described in the Collection Contents section.

Researchers should also note that similar material can be arranged differently in each acquisition, depending on how the material was organized when it was received by the library.


17.44 Linear Feet (41 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Judson Crews Papers provide evidence of the personal and professional life of American poet Judson Crews between 1930 and 1991. The papers document Crews' career as a poet, printer, and small-press publisher, and consist of correspondence, writings, and personal papers. Crews and his wife Mildred Tolbert, a photographer and writer, were members of the artistic community in Taos, New Mexico in the mid twentieth-century. There is also some material relating to Crews' friendship with Henry Miller. Correspondents include Crews' daughters Anna Bush Crews and Carole Judith Crews as well as Wendell B. Anderson, Carol Bergé, and J. Whitebird.

Judson Crews (1917-2010)

Judson Campbell Crews, American author and small-press publisher, was born on June 30, 1917, in Waco, Texas, the youngest of seven children born to Noah George and Tommie Farmer Crews. Following his father's suicide in 1936, Crews worked as a landscape architect in Waco. He then attended Baylor University (A.B., 1941). Crews also started publishing a number of literary magazines, including Vers Libre (1937) and Motive (1940), the latter established along with Crew's bookstore of the same name.

Following graduation Crews published his first book of poetry, Psalms for a Late Season, which was printed by Iconograph Press (1942). Crews served with the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War II (1942-1944). After which Crews completed a Master of Arts in sociology and psychology (1944) from Baylor University and studied fine arts (1946-1947). Following graduation Crews moved out West, spending time in Washington, Oregon, and California, where he befriended Henry Miller, a relationship he later reflected on in his books Henry Miller and My Big Sur Days: Vignettes From Memory (1992) and The Brave Wild Coast: A Year with Henry Miller (1997).

After living in California Crews moved to Taos, New Mexico, where he established Este Es Press (1946-1966) and worked as a printer for Taos Star, El Crepusculo, and Taos News Publishing Co (1948-1966).

Crews and Mildred Tolbert (1919-2008), a photographer and writer, were married on October 19, 1947. Crews and Tolbert had two daughters: Anna Bush Crews (1948-) and Carole Judith Crews (1950-).

While in Taos, Crews continued to publish literary magazines such as The Flying Fish (1948), The Deer and Dachshund, in collaboration with Tolbert and Wendell Anderson, which continued on as Suck-Egg Mule (1951), Taos (1951), Poetry Taos (1957), and The Naked Ear. In addition to publishing authors such as Robert Creeley, Charles Bukowski, and Carol Bergé, Crews also published his own writings including The Heart in Naked Hunger (1958), Inwade to Briney Garth (1960), A Unicorn When Needs Be (1963), Hermes Past the Hour (1963), and Angels Fall, They Are Towers (1965). Throughout his career Crews wrote under several pseudonyms, including Willard Emory Betis, Trumbull Drachler, Charley John Greasybear, Cerise Farallon, and Toby Macadams.

Crews returned to graduate school at the University of Texas at El Paso in 1967. At various points in his career Crews balanced his artistic life with careers in social work and as an educator in sociology and psychology. Crews was employed as a caseworker for the El Paso Country Child Welfare Unit (1966-1967), instructor for Wharton Junior College, Wharton, Texas (1967-1970), psychological counselor and community services coordinator for Community Mental Health Service, Gallup, New Mexico ( 1970-1971), lecturer at the University of New Mexico Branch College, Gallup, New Mexico (1971-1972), and director of the intensive care unit at the State School for Girls, Chillicothe, Missouri (1973).

Following a separation from Mildred Tolbert in 1972, Crews moved to Africa where he was a lecturer in social development studies at the University of Zambia, Lusaka (1974-1978). While in Africa Crews began writing an autobiography, which remains unpublished. Following his return to the United States, Crews and Tolbert finalized their divorced (1979). Crews returned to Taos where he published more books, including a collection of poems The Clock of Moss (1983) edited by Carol Bergé.

Crews died in Taos, New Mexico, on May 17th 2010.

Mildred Tolbert was born in Amarillo, Texas on January 8, 1919. After two years of college Tolbert moved to Taos where she practiced photography, a skill she later taught as a civilian photography instructor at Lowry Field in Denver, Colorado (1943). Tolbert worked in photography laboratories (including Leco Photo Service) in New York for two years before returning to Taos. Tolbert studied literature at the University of Texas at El Paso (1966) and the University of Houston (where she graduated with a bachelor of arts in 1970). In 1973 Tolbert received a fellowship from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, an artist residence program based in Taos. Tolbert's works were included in exhibitions at the Shipley Gallery (2005) and the Harwood Museum (2006). Crews died in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, on January 22, 2008.

Processing Information

This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and in some instances minimal organization, at or around the time of acquisition. Further description was carried out in 2011-2012. Various acquisitions associated with the collection have not been merged and organized as a whole. Each acquisition is described separately in the contents list below and titled according to month and year of acquisition.

As a rule, descriptive information found in the Collection Contents section is drawn in large part from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.

This collection includes materials previously identified by the following call numbers: Uncat Za Ms 13,Uncat Za Ms 39, Uncat Za Ms 46, Uncat Za Ms 95, Uncat Za Ms 122, Uncat Za Ms 132, Uncat Za Ms 168, Uncat Za Ms 171, Uncat Za Ms 188, Uncat Za Ms 379, Za Crews, and Zab C867 + 1.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Judson Crews Papers
by H. Dean and Andrea Benefiel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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