Skip to Content

Jan Garden Castro Papers

Identifier: MS-MS-ms136

The Jan Garden Castro papers consist primarily of research materials, writings, and correspondence related to Castro's extensive career as a literary and art critic and her roles as a civic arts activist and co-founder/former Executive Director of River Styx literary magazine in Saint Louis, Missouri. Included are numerous original transcripts of Castro's interviews with notable artists and literary figures, as well as typescript drafts, photocopies and clippings of published book and art reviews written by Castro. Notable interviewees include Margaret Atwood, Allen Ginsberg, Quincy Troupe, Eavan Boland, Chakaia Booker, Howard Nemerov, and John Hollander. Additionally, the collection includes Castro's published and unpublished poetry, exhibit catalog essays, and other writings; materials related to the production of River Styx Magazine, Castro's educational and teaching materials, and assorted print materials and manuscripts collected by Castro throughout her career. The collection includes notebooks and diaries kept by Castro and a collection of audiovisual materials consisting of Castro's taped interviews with artists, her Double Helix cable tv show “The Writers’ Circle,” interviews of literary figures including Howard Nemerov and Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and poetry readings from the Duff's and River Styx PM Series. The original donations also included a large number of rare art books, which have since been transferred to Rare Books or the Art and Architecture Library. Finally, this collection contains 122 born-digital items (approx. 5 GB; 3871 total files); 71 floppy disks, 7 CDs, and 3 DVDs are currently accessible. The DVDs are surrogates; the files on these disks were compiled by former processing archivist Alicia Detelich and consist of scans, downloaded web content, and born-digital publications.For preservation and access purposes, most of the disks were imaged with either Guymager or FTK to maintain the original disk structure. In this collection, a disk image was not created for disks that Castro did not create herself, disks that would not boot, and disks that were inaccessible due to lack of hardware. Each item was assigned a Special Collections library identifier, scanned for viruses, run through a bulk-extractor program to remove Personal Identifiying Information (PII), and uploaded to WUSTL's server. Please contact Special Collections for more information about the born-digital material in this collection.


  • 1957-2014


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


58.80 boxes (5 GB (approx.); 3871 files)

Biographical Information

Jan Garden Castro (1945-) is an American author, editor, poet, literary and art critic, teacher, and arts activist. Born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri, and currently residing in New York City, Castro attended Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison for her undergraduate studies, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1967 and a 1967 certificate from the famed Radcliffe College Publishing Course, which relocated to Columbia University in 2000. In 1974 and 1994 respectively, Castro earned a Master of Arts in Teaching and English and then a Master of Arts in Art History and Comparative Literature from Washington University, Saint Louis.

Castro's extensive writing career began in 1968, while she was living in San Francisco, with features on Pablo Neruda, David Harris, Joan Baez, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, and others published in The Daily Californian and the San Francisco Express Times. Upon returning to Saint Louis around 1970, Castro published essays, reviews, and poems in local and national underground newspapers, and national literary journals. In 1972 she married Michael Castro in Graham Chapel at Washington University, and with him and several other local poets and artists founded River Styx literary magazine in 1975. Between 1975 and 1987, Castro served as an editor of River Styx, and as its first Executive Director – leading its multicultural and interdisciplinary direction during this period. She contributed significant material to the journal during this time, including editorial direction and interviews with Margaret Atwood, Quincy Troupe, and many other well-known artists and writers. The River Styx group also organized many poetry readings and local cultural events, most notably the River Styx PM series at the Saint Louis Art Museum and Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Duff's Poetry Series, held at Duff's restaurant in the Central West End. In 1975 Castro wrote and self-published her first poetry compilation, Mandala of the Five Senses. She also served as a teacher at several local secondary schools and colleges during this period and began to review books by Atwood, Gass, Morrison, Baldwin, Garcia Marquez, and others for The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.

In 1985 Castro's first major book was published by Crown Publishers, an art history and biography of Georgia O'Keeffe titled The Art and Life of Georgia O'Keeffe, which had ten printings 1985-1995 and sold over 100,000 copies. In 1988 she co-edited scholarly essays on Margaret Atwood titled Margaret Atwood, Vision and Forms (Southern Illinois University Press), which had two printings. Starting in 1980 Castro taught humanities as an adjunct professor at Lindenwood College (now University) in Saint Charles, Missouri and continued to publish poems and book reviews. In addition to her publishing and teaching activities, Castro also organized a number of cultural events in the Saint Louis area, including the 1987 Heart of Saint Louis Arts festival, and traveled throughout the country giving lectures on art history and the work of Georgia O'Keeffe.

During the 1990s Castro wrote literature and art reviews for the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch and the Riverfront Times. She continued to publish poetry and read her poems at local artistic and cultural events, and otherwise kept involved with local arts. Additionally, Castro received fellowships from institutes including the Camargo Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1998, Castro began writing art reviews and interviews for Sculpture Magazine and has since published more than 16 cover stories for the journal. Her involvement with Sculpture continues to the present day and has included significant interviews with and essays on Louise Bourgeois, Maya Lin, Mel Chin, Cristina Iglesias, Sanford Biggers, Ai Wei Wei, Liza Lou, and numerous artists. Castro also writes articles for Ceramics: Art and Perception, has written catalog essays for many local and national artists, and has published fiction and flash fiction online at The Adirondack Review and Great Weather for the Media.

Castro’s poetry and art collaboration with Robert Charles Smith, The Last Frontier, was published in 2001. Smith, a Washington University art professor who designed the University City lions, created letterpress and electronic images on his Eclectic Press to accompany each poem by Castro. Some copies included a CD with Castro reading her poems to original compositions by Willem Von Hombracht. Smith created handmade silk and marbled paper boxes for the first twenty copies.

In 2001-2002, Castro guest-curated and wrote the catalog for the exhibit Sonia Delaunay: La Moderne, a retrospective on Sonia Delaunay shown in Tokyo and three regional museums in Japan, and the Jane V. Zimmerli Museum at Rutgers University. Castro's master's thesis and the Delaunay retrospective were based on ten years of original primary research in Paris and other locations.

During her career Castro has published more than 425 articles, essays, and interviews for a wide variety of publishing outlets. As of March 2014 she continues to publish frequently for several publications, including Sculpture Magazine (,, American Book Review ( ), and Woman’s Art Journal ( ).

Technical Access Requirements

The library cannot provide access to all born-digital materials due to lack of required hardware/software. Requests for born-digtial material may require advanced notice. Please contact Special Collections for more details.

Source of Acquisition

Accession Number 23074, 23082, July 2005

Accession Number 23908, 28 August 2007

Accession Number 23962, 2010

Accession Number 2014.006, 19 March 2014

Related Materials

See Jan Garden Castro collection of Margaret Atwood materials, located at the Thomas Fischer Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, Canada. Extent 8 boxes, 1.5 meters

See also Jan Garden Castro donation to Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

See also Jan Garden Castro Writings: Artists Mapping the Future, an electronic archive of Castro's writings on comptemporary art and artists.

Processing Information

The original order of the collection as established by Castro has largely been maintained, with the exception of a number of miscellaneous and unlabeled folders that contained a wide variety of materials. These materials were filed into the appropriate series or subseries as determined by the processor. The order of materials within folders has mostly been maintained, with the exception of obvious filing mistakes. Folder titles were generally maintained, with the exception of miscellaneous and unlabeled folders; dates were also added to folders where appropriate, and some additional specifics were added when titles were unclear (i.e. 'Writings' may have been changed to 'Unpublished Writings 1971-1972'). Additionally, color photos, slides, and audiovisual materials were separated from their original locations within the Research and Educational Materials series, and have been rehoused together for preservation purposes. Finally, please note that not all folders have series titles or folder numbers included. For details about arrangement refer to finding aid.

See mss23962_BD_AccReport for information about born-digital content.

Jan Garden Castro Papers
Alicia Detelich
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2018 August 15: Revised by Elizabeth Winter under the supervision of Robert Manley
  • 2021 April 20: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area

Joel Minor
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495