Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957) was born Lucila Godoy Alcayaga in the remote Elqui Valley of Chile. She ascended from prototypical small-town schoolteacher to the most famous Latin American woman of her time in her multiple guises as educator, diplomat, and poet. For decades this 1945 Nobel Prize winner in literature has circulated as a saintly national mother, in counterpoint to her queer sexuality, a source of much fascination. In January 2007, an extensive personal archive of Mistral emerged. It was compiled and ordered meticulously by her last companion, Doris Dana, from the beginning of their relationship in the late 1940s until Dana's death in 2006. This article explores the changing Mistral icon in the context of 1990s “Chile de la transición,” particularly a 2001 controversy over her appropriate reception and circulation, and then considers the reception of the Dana archive and the state's recent moves of archival appropriation.

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