Marvin Francis:

An Inventory of His Papers at the University Of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections

Inventory prepared by David Perlmutter and Shelley Sweeney
University Of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
331 Elizabeth Dafoe Library, University Of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N2
(May 2007)

Finding aid encoded by Bryan Bance and Vladimira Zvonik (May 29, 2007)
Finding aid written in English.

Collection Summary

University Of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
331 Elizabeth Dafoe Library, University Of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N2

Marvin Francis

Marvin Francis fonds


1.5 M Textual Records And Other Material

MSS 247, A.06-51


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Biography of Marvin Francis

Marvin Francis was an Aboriginal poet, playwright, author and visual artist based in Winnipeg. With his 2002 book "City Treaty", he established himself as a unique voice in the Manitoba arts scene, one that was abruptly silenced by his death in January 2005 from cancer. Born in 1955 and raised on the Heart Lake First Nation reserve in Northern Alberta, Francis began his working life after quitting school in 1971. He spent much of the following decade traveling across the route of the Trans Canada Highway doing odd jobs. Arriving in Winnipeg in the late 1980s, he studied at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba, where he earned B.A. and M.A. degrees. "City Treaty", the work adapted from his M.A. thesis, earned him considerable acclaim for his experimental yet realistic approach to the writing of poetry. This was solidified in 2003 when he received the John Hirsch Award as Manitoba's most promising writer. Francis was quick to expand his artistic horizons. He wrote and/or directed radio plays for the CBC, such as "The Sniffer" and "Punching Out Judy", that reflected his unique perspective on Manitoba urban life. Francis also expanded into writing short stories (such as "Pencil Beauty" in the 2005 Manitoba Aboriginal Writers Collective anthology "Bone Memory"), designing visual art and creating virtual Internet exhibits. He continued writing poetry, however, and was preparing a second collection for release at the time of his death. He was also active politically within the arts community of Manitoba. A founding member of the Manitoba Aboriginal Writers Collective, he was also a board member of the Urban Shaman art gallery and the Manitoba Writers Guild. In these areas as well as his art, he was a passionate supporter of Canadian Native people and the urban poor of Winnipeg.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Marvin Francis fonds displays a wealth of background information on the state of Native people in Canada in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, as well as showing the depth and versatility of a uniquely gifted artist. It consists of four series related to the life and career of Marvin Francis. It documents his writing career as a poetry and prose writer with an indexed collection based on typewritten and handwritten manuscripts. Included are drafts of poetry, short stories and stage and radio plays. Also in the collection is extensive secondary information reflective of his career as a poet, playwright, visual artist and actor, his work as a creative writing instructor, his participation in writing festivals and readings, and his work as a principal member of artistic groups such as the Manitoba Aboriginal Writers Collective, the Urban Shaman art gallery and the Manitoba Writers Guild. The period covers roughly from 1985 until Francis' death in 2005.

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Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged into four series:

  • 1. Marvin Francis - Personal
  • 2. Poetry
  • 3. Plays
  • 4. Writings, Drafts

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This collection is arranged in rough alphabetical order with adherence to labeled content. The original order was followed where possible.

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Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material.

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Custodial History

This material was donated by Francis' partner Cindy Singer following his death.

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Other Finding Aids

Printed finding aid available in Archives reading room.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Marvin Francis - Personal []
11 Biographical Information, 1999-2001
2 Art Show Guest Book - " Art of Living Dangerously", 1999
3 Marvin Francis - Articles (Conundrum), 2000-2003
4 Correspondence, 1985-2004
5 Correspondence, 2000-2003
6 M.A. Thesis - City Treaty, 2001
7 Student Information, 1995-2003
8 Teaching Material, 2002-2005
9 Student Papers, 2000-2004
10 Course Work - Correspondence, 1995-2004
11 Posters, ca.2002
12 Urban Shaman Inc. - Correspondence & Contract, 2003
21 Theatrical Roles, 1998-2002
2 Manitoba Writers' Guild Publicity, 2002-2004
3 Prairie Fire Publicity, 2004
4 Winnipeg International Writers' Festival Publicity, 2002-2003
5 Original Writing, 2000-2004
6 Grant Applications, Proposals, 1999-2003
7 Writing Reviews, 2002-2003
8 Cancom Year 2000, Ross Charles Awards Report, 2000

(w/Marlin Francis as participant)

9 Awards, Grants, Funding, 2002-2003
10 Writing - Publicity, Promotion, 2000-2003
11 Aboriginal Programs, Awards, Conferences, 2000-2004
12 Aboriginal Writers' Collective Inc., August, 2002
13 Canadian Authors Association Annual Conference Writing Contest, 2003

("Letters to my Sisters" - Lisa St. Martin-Tssessaze)

14 Art Exhibits, Cultural Events, 1999-2004
15 Stone Hinge - Film Script, ca. 2000
3-5 Scrap Books, Note Books, Binders,

(art sketches, notes, misc. info)

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61 Wild Weird Wonderful Metal: a Poetry Slam Show, 2000
2 Francis Poetry with Alana Phillips, 2000
3 City Treaty - Poetry, 2002
4-7 Poetry, ca.2000
8 Poetry Slam - Empty Pocket Theatre, 2000
9 Poetry, 2003
71-6 Poetry - File no.1-6

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77 Plays - File no.7
8 Plays - File no.8
9 Plays - File no.9
10 Plays - File no.10

"The Painter" , 1993

81 Plays - File no.1
2-5 Writing, Plays - File no.1-4

"Punching out Judy"

6 Radio Play " Adventures of Scabby Boy"
7 Radio Play "Lemmings"
8 Radio Play " Sniffer"
9 Radio Play " Johnny Sidewalk"
91 Radio Plays
2 Radio Plays, 2000-2004
3 Radio Plays

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Writings, Drafts
94 Short Story "Pencil Beauty"
5-11 Writings, Drafts no.1-5
101-8 Writings, Drafts no.5-8
111 Writings, Drafts no.9
2 Miscellaneous
3 Video - Traces
12 - Oversize Posters, Newspaper Clippings

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