Guide to the Charlotte M. Smith Papers, Including the Records of the Tamazunchale Press

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1970-2001
Creator: Smith, Charlotte M. (1919-2002)
Extent: 4.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0457
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Publisher of miniature books in Newton, Iowa, founded by Charlotte and Thomas Smith. Correspondence, typescripts, proofs, advertising, contracts, etc., have been combined with Charlotte M. Smith's personal papers.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Series I, Box 1; Series II, Box 3; Series III, Boxes 4, 5; Slides: Series I, Box 1; Series II, Boxes 2, 3; CD: Series I, Box 1.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: Donated by Charlotte M. Smith, 1980-2002; Charlotte A. Smith, 2002-2007.

Preferred Citation: Charlotte M. Smith Papers, Including The Records of the Tamazunchale Press, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Biographical Note

Charlotte Messenger Smith was born on January 27, 1919, to Charlotte (Strochl) and Orville Messenger, in Downey, Iowa. While she was still an infant, her family moved to Newton, Iowa, where she lived the rest of her life. She married Thomas R. Smith on January 27, 1939. The Smiths had two children, Charlotte Ann Smith Adams and Thomas Smith, Jr. Tom had a long and highly successful career as research engineer for the Maytag Company; he died in March 2001. Charlotte died on January 25, 2002 from complications in the course of routine surgery.Both Tom and Charlotte were avid readers, and Charlotte became a collector of rare books until they threatened to overload their home, at which point Tom told Charlotte that he didn't care how many books she collected as long as they fit into one room. A short while before this, Charlotte had become aware of miniature books, and so began the Charlotte M. Smith Collection of Miniature Books. In 1983, the Smiths started their own press, the Tamazunchale Press, Inc., of Newton, Iowa, the first press in the state to publish miniature books. Charlotte described her collecting and documented details of the Press' output in two articles published in Books at Iowa, The Joys of Miniature Books (1984) and The Tamazunchale Press: A Bibliographic Checklist (1990).

Content Description

The papers of Charlotte Smith, including the records of the Tamazunchale Press, occupy about eight linear feet and date from 1961 to 2002. Series I includes a variety of personal memorabilia including grade and high school reports, records of a 1972 recipe book she assembled by contacting notable women, letters from many prominent writers, and some of her own attempts at narrative and fiction. In addition, Series I includes a large group of travel diaries: Charlotte developed a habit of thoroughly documenting each of many trips, both within the United States and abroad. Many of the trips included visits to book- and print-related sources as well as meetings with collectors, publishers, printers, marblers, and others in the world of books. Lastly, it includes Charlotte Smith's personal diaries, dated from 1981-2002.The diaries include not only Smith's record of her daily life, but also obituaries, correspondence, and various newspaper clippings. Recorded on the last pages of each diary are the impressive lists of books that Smith read.

Series II documents her passion for miniature books. The papers include dealers' catalogs, correspondence (including letters exchanged with members of the Libraries' staff over many years), advertising, and articles. Also included is the Norman Forgue Award presented to Charlotte Smith by the Miniature Book Society in 1993.

Records of the Tamazunchale Press, Inc. are organized in Series III. The Press was founded by the Smiths in 1983, with publishing a natural progression for Charlotte who had by then been collecting miniature books for a number of years. The press name, which suggests their own first names, comes from a small Mexican village in which the Smiths honeymooned in 1939. Tamazunchale Press published twenty books between 1983 and 1988, issuing books by both old and new authors hitherto unpublished in miniature book form. The first Tamazunchale book was written by Charlotte herself and titled Book Interlude. It was quickly followed by The Manuscriptby Isaac Bashevis Singer, Confessions of a Wild Boar by John Updike, The Model E by Tom Smith, and My Chinese Childhood by Pearl S. Buck. The last book published by Tamazunchale was Antonin Dvorak by Janet Savin. The records of Tamazunchale Press, Inc., document the making of each book, with typescripts, galleys, contracts, advertising, etc. The files include correspondence with other collectors, publishers, bookbinders, and booksellers, and with some of the authors who permitted their work to be used. Perhaps the most important item in this last category is a letter from Eudora Welty.

Box 1 contains electronic materials.

Related Materials

Further information about Charlotte Smith and a partial inventory of our miniature book collection can be viewed here.

"The Joys of Miniature Books" by Charlotte Smith, from Books at Iowa 41 (November 1984).

"The Tamazunchale Press: A Bibliographic Checklist" from Books at Iowa 50 (April 1990).

Detailed Description of the Collection

Browse by Series:


This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Angelou, Maya
Bahar, Ann
Bradstreet, Anne, 1612?-1672.
Buck, Pearl S. (Pearl Sydenstricker), 1892-1973
Capote, Truman, 1924-1984
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 1804-1864
Hollander, John
Irving, Washington, 1783-1859
Savin, Janet
Singer, Isaac Bashevis, 1904-1991
Smith, Charlotte, 1749-1806
Smith, Thomas R., 1909-
Updike, John
Warren, Robert Penn, 1905-1989
Welty, Eudora, 1909-2001
White, E. B. (Elwyn Brooks), 1899-1985

Corporate Names:
Tamazunchale Press

Book collecting
Miniature books
Miniature printing

Geographic Names:
United States -- Iowa

Genre/Form of Materials:
Manuscripts (Document genre)

Anne Bradstreet
Antonin Dvorak
Book interlude
Claude Monet
Confessions of a wild boar
David Swan
Hollander garland
Literary antiquary
Little store
Model E.
My Chinese childhood
My favorite miniature book
Publishers favorite
Russian icon
Six poems
White rose

English & American Literature
Writers Archive at Iowa
Newspaper & Magazine Editors & Publishers
Editors & Publishers
Businessmen and Businesses