Martha Stone Papers, 1930-1976
Martha Stone (1898-?) was an American expatriate who lived in Mexico City for 35 years and authored At the Sign of Midnight: The Concheros Dance Cult of Mexico (1975). She was also an active member of the Pan American Round Table of Mexico City. Martha Stone was also known as Mattie Stone and Marta Estony.
Martha Elizabeth Stone was born on November 9, 1898 to Mary Ella (Mittie) Horn and James Monroe Rainey in Ashburn, Georgia. She grew up in Florida and attended Florida Normal Institute and State College for Women. Upon graduation she taught in public schools before marrying William Ernest Stone, also known as Bill, in 1922.
In 1930 Bill Stone was transferred from Florida to Mexico City for his work as an entomologist with the United States Department of Agriculture, prompting the family to move to Mexico. During her residence in Mexico City, Martha Stone attended the National University of Mexico, studying with famous Mexican archaeologist Dr. Alfonso Caso y Andrade. She also became involved in various groups, including the Little Theatre of Mexico City, Pan American Round Table of Mexico City (PART), and Union Evangelical Church. She joined PART in 1930 and held various offices during her membership, including the position of Director in 1938. She was also involved in the Little Theatre of Mexico City during the 1930s, along with various other drama societies. She wrote Sanborne, a one-act play for Little Theatre, and The Fourth Dimension, a three-act play for PART. She also served as President of the American Legion Auxiliary in 1955.
Martha Stone was one of the first outsiders to describe the Concheros dance in detail. After observing the dancers she was instructed in the steps by a captain, José Celis. She participated in the dance ceremonies and was eventually formally elected to a mesa, or section, of the organization. Her book, At the Sign of Midnight: The Concheros Dance Cult of Mexico, chronicles her experiences with the danzantes and observations of the various dances. After more than twenty years of research, it was accepted for publication in 1968 and published in 1975 by the University of Arizona Press.
The Stones moved to San José, Costa Rica in 1965 when Bill became Director and Executive Director of Organización Internacional y Regional de Sanidad y Agricultura (OIRSA). They returned to the United States around 1968 and lived in Austin, Texas until at least 1977. The dates and locations of death of Martha and Bill Stone are unknown.
Bill and Martha Stone’s daughter, Martita, is featured in the collection. Though she was also named Martha Elizabeth Stone, she was known to friends and family as Martita. She was born on May 2, 1925, and accompanied her parents to Mexico City in 1930. She attended the University of Texas in the mid-1940s and lived in New York for a few years before returning to Mexico City around 1953 to teach at the American School. Martita married concert violinist John Creighton Murray in Mexico City in 1954 and gave birth to their daughter, Martha Deirdre Creighton Murray, nicknamed Tita, on September 30, 1955. She divorced John Creighton Murray in 1957 and returned to Mexico City. She moved to Michigan in 1958 to teach and attended Michigan State University in 1965 for a Master’s degree in curriculum. Martita married her second husband, Ian W. Boyle, in Winter Park, Florida on October 16, 1967. She passed away in 1984 and was buried at Palm Cemetery in Winter Park, Florida.
Martha Stone's book is available at the Benson Latin American Collection: http://catalog.lib.utexas.edu/record=b1569563~S29
This collection contains notebooks, agendas, address books, journals, class notes, clippings, slides, photographs, and negatives documenting the scholarly and social activities of Martha Elizabeth Stone. Most of the records were created by Martha Stone while she lived in Mexico City and pertain to her research of the Concheros dance. The collection also contains personal materials, including family photographs and the diaries of both Martha Stone and her daughter, Martita, as well as records relating to Stone’s involvement in various social organizations, such as the Pan American Round Table (PART) of Mexico City and the Little Theatre of Mexico City. The materials range from 1930 to 1976, although there are significantly fewer materials relating to the period following the Stones’ departure from Mexico in 1965. The collection includes both Spanish- and English-language materials. The Martha Stone Papers were acquired in multiple accessions between 1992 and 1993 and are divided into three series.
Series one, Notebooks and Other Written Materials, contains notebooks, agendas, address books, journals, class notes, identification cards, maps, and various textual documents produced or collected by Martha Stone and her daughter, Martita Stone. Notebooks range in size from 3 in. x 4.5 in. to 9.5 in. x 14 in. The series is divided into seven subseries: Address Books, Agendas, Class Notes, Journals, Numbered Notebooks, Other Written Materials, and Martita Stone’s Notebooks. The Address Books, Agendas, Class Notes, and Journals subseries all contain notebooks that were generated for a specific function such as tracking appointments, maintaining contact information, taking notes on course lectures and assigned reading, and reflecting on daily life. The Numbered Notebooks subseries contains various notebooks concerning Martha Stone’s research into the Concheros dance and its history, her drafts of book chapters, her involvement in PART, and her interest in drama and playwriting. As the subjects within a single notebook often overlap, notebooks not pertaining to a specific function were kept together and numbered for easy reference. They were not received with any discernible original order and are arranged in approximate chronological order, although some notebooks span multiple decades. Notebooks with no known date are at the end of the subseries. Some notebooks may contain a table of contents created by Martha Stone. The Other Written Materials subseries includes notes and lectures on folklore collected by Martha Stone, regulations for a dance group, and various notes and collected materials, including Martha Stone’s Costa Rica identification card. The Martita Stone’s Notebooks subseries contains notebooks belonging to Martha Stone’s daughter, Martita, and include personal diaries, short stories, and class notes.
Series two, Visual Materials, contains photographs, negatives, and slides related to Martha Stone’s research and participation in the Concheros dance, her involvement in PART of Mexico City, and her personal relationships. Materials are organized according to subject of the images and range in date from 1935 to 1972. A few personal images show the Stones after they moved to the United States in the late 1960s, although most of the series highlights their years in Mexico City. The series includes sets of slides and photographs that were organized for publication in At the Sign of Midnight, though the book ultimately included only four photographs. The set of slides for the book are arranged according to Martha Stone’s original numbering and correspond with handwritten captions on airmail envelopes. The set of photographs for the book are organized by a different numbering system than the book slide set and are also accompanied by handwritten captions. Remaining slides that were not selected for potential publication are divided between those related to Martha Stone’s research on the Concheros dance and Mexican history and those containing personal images of family, friends, and residences. Dates assigned to slides are estimates based on characteristics of the slide mount. Thus, these supplied dates are indicative of the date that the film was processed, rather than the date that the image was originally captured. Slides that were identified during processing as originating from the same set are grouped together.
Series three, Oversize Materials, contains newspaper and magazine clippings collected by Martha Stone. Publications include TIME, The Grade Teacher, and The News, an English-language daily newspaper published in Mexico City. Clippings range from 1948 to 1963.
Standard copyright restrictions apply.
Cite as: Martha Stone Papers, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, the University of Texas at Austin.
Box and Folder Inventory