Skip to main content


Identifier: WH1363


The Ambassador Swanee Hunt collection consists primarily of materials from the Hunt Alternatives Fund. Other materials from her Ambassadorship, boards and committees on which she participated, projects she supported, framed photographs from her exhibit, and personal documents are also included. The dates of the collection span 1978-1999. Because additional material may be donated to the library, the collection remains open. The Hunt Alternatives Fund Library included annual reports from other western foundations which were removed and integrated into the Western History collection. An additional selection of books from the Hunt Alternatives Fund's library was removed, catalogued, and integrated into the Denver Public Library's general circulation collection.


Papers in the collection document the Fund's grant-making process and administrative activities. The collection includes the organization's extensive resource library compiled between 1981 and 1997. Material consists of the Fund's annual reports, board meeting books, documents gathered during the grant-request process, philanthropic guidebooks, directories, newsletters, reference information from several foundations, and reference material covering a wide range of social topics. The topics include adolescents, children, crime, drugs and alcohol, poverty, education, and health. The series contains documents on the office and staff business. The series is arranged in six sub series comprising Annual Reports, Board Books, Grants, Foundations, Topics, and Staff.


Ambassador Hunt served on numerous boards and committees, which were: Denver Civic Ventures, Rose Medical Center, University of Colorado at Denver, University of Denver, and the Council of State Policy and Planning Agencies. Materials include reports, studies, correspondence, articles, agendas, policy goals, mission statements, agreements, and guidelines. The series is arranged chronologically by organization.


Papers in the collection document Ambassador Hunt's work. Materials include correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, speech transcripts, agendas, itineraries, progress reports, press releases, and background information on Austria. Papers record Ambassador Hunt's involvement in the Bosnian conflict and her interest in women's issues including the 1997 conference, Vital Voices. Two of Ambassador Hunt's photographic publications and her musical composition, Witness Cantata, are in the collection. The series is organized chronologically by Ambassador Hunt's general responsibilities as Ambassador and by her special interests.


The series comprises a 16-page fax to Ambassador Hunt regarding the Women Waging Peace Conference at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, a monthly calendar, daily schedules, a phone message list, and notes.

SERIES 5 PERSONAL 1980-1999 BOX 57

The collection includes biographical information on Ambassador Hunt, documents concerning the Hunt oil business, travel arrangements, correspondence, and drafts of book chapters. Bulletins from the Hockaday Alumnae Association, Ball State University, and a copy of an article by Ambassador Hunt and her daughter, Lillian Hunt-Meeks, also appear.

SERIES 6 OVERSIZE 1988-1993, N.D. OVFOL1-3

In addition, the series contains a scrapbook consisting of photographs, drawings, sketches, correspondence, newspaper and magazine clippings, a mirror, and two photographs given to Ambassador Hunt.


The series contains oversize color photographs taken by Ambassador Hunt while overseas in Laos, Kenya, Nepal and Yemen as well as the Grand Canyon and Alaska. In addition the series contains two photographs given to Ambassador Hunt and snapshots of her family.


  • 1978-1999


Literary rights and copyrights are assigned to the Denver Public Library.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


Ambassador Swanee Hunt was born in 1950 and raised in Dallas, Texas. She is the fourth and youngest child of H.L. Hunt, founder of the Hunt Oil Company, and Ruth Ray Hunt. After graduating cum laude in 1968 from the Hockaday School for Girls in Dallas, Ambassador Hunt attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. She earned her BA in philosophy and graduated with honors in 1972. Ambassador Hunt continued her education in Heidelberg, Germany, where she received her MA in counseling psychology from Ball State University's extension program in 1976. The following year, Ambassador Hunt obtained her MA in religion from the Iliff School of Theology and in 1986 earned her Doctor of Theology from the same institution.

In 1982, Ambassador Hunt and her sister, Helen Hunt Hendrix, co-founded the Hunt Alternatives Fund in Denver, Dallas, and New York. Both Ambassador Hunt and her sister were active trustees in the foundation. The Fund provided grants to a wide range of programs addressing such concerns as families, women, youth, poverty, and mental illness. An issue of particular interest to the foundation was reproductive rights. When the Norplant birth control method became an option, the Fund gathered extensive research materials on the subject. After 15 years of grant-making in Denver, the Fund closed its Denver office.

Deeply interested in and committed to social issues, Ambassador Hunt founded several programs, acted on numerous boards, and held positions on committees appointed by then-Governor Roy Romer. In 1986, Ambassador Hunt co-founded and acted as trustee of the Women's Foundation of Colorado. In 1989, she was appointed to and chaired the Colorado Coordinating Council on Housing and the Homeless. Other board memberships include the following:

Karis Community, co-founder, 1980-1983

Piton Foundation, Community Development Project, Denver, 1985-1988

Colorado Children's Campaign, 1986-1989

University of Colorado at Denver, Center for Health, Ethics and Policy, Policy Review Board, Denver, 1987-1989

University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Department of Psychiatry, Visiting Committee, 1987-1989

Governor's Task Force on the Homeless (appointed by Governor Romer), 1988-1989

University of Denver Board of Trustees, 1990-1995

In 1992, Ambassador Hunt became involved in national politics when she actively supported Bill Clinton's presidential campaign. Hosting a symposium on women's issues, she raised $1 million for the Democratic Party and further backed the Democratic bid by making the second largest donation to the campaign. In 1993, President Clinton nominated Swanee Hunt for Ambassador to Austria, a post for which she was confirmed. She held the position until 1997. A serious concern of Ambassador Hunt's was the Balkan conflict, which she actively worked to resolve. In 1996, Ambassador Hunt published a pictorial booklet documenting her trips to Sarajevo called A Personal View - Window on Sarajevo. In Austria, she promoted women's issues by founding the Vienna Women's Initiative and establishing the Center on Democracy. In 1997, Ambassador Hunt organized a three-day conference in Vienna called Vital Voices: Women in Democracy. During the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, she organized the program Unconventional Women, which was presented with many female political leaders to an audience of more than 3,000. With a desire to promote the political involvement of women, she developed the Voting Circles program, which encouraged women to vote for Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

Ambassador Hunt combined her sociopolitical interests with her artistic endeavors. She composed Witness Cantata, first performed in 1985, choreographed by Cleo Parker Robinson in 1992, and played in Vienna. During her travels around the world, Ambassador Hunt photographed the people she met and their homelands. In 1994, Ambassador Hunt assembled her collection of photographs from these trips into an exhibit and a catalog titled Witness. The exhibit appeared in galleries in Europe and the United States.

Ambassador Hunt has written articles for various newspapers and magazines, including Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, International Herald Tribune, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy Magazine. She has provided commentary on many international and national news networks. Her book on women and the Bosnian War, This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace, won the PEN/New England Award in 2005, and she published her memoir, Half-Life of a Zealot, in 2006. Ambassador Hunt’s book Worlds Apart, released in August 2011, is an in-depth look at the lessons learned from the Bosnian War that could be applied to global conflict today.

In 1985, Hunt received the Katherine Hamilton Award for founding and supporting mental health programs and commissions. In 1989, KUSA Channel 9 awarded her the Frontier Award for extraordinary volunteer community service. In 2007, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Other awards and honors include:

Mental Health Association of Colorado, Special Award of Recognition, 1984

The Caring Connection, Tribute Dinner Honoree, 1988

International Women's Forum, "Women Who Make a Difference" tribute, 1989

Mental Illness Awareness Week Community Service Award from Colorado Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 1990

Anti-Defamation League, American Heritage Award, 1995

The Remember for Tomorrow Alliance Award, 1997

Ambassador Hunt is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the board of Crisis Group. She is the Eleanor Roosevelt lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She married Charles Ansbacher, a composer and symphony conductor in 1985. They have three children. Charles Ansbacher died in 2010.


63 box(es)

3 oversize folio(s)

1 photo envelope(s)

12 photo oversize file folder(s)

Language of Materials



Ambassador Hunt donated her papers to the Denver Public Library in 1999. The collection is open for additional contributions.


Ambassador Hunt's composition Witness Cantata is included in the Western History/Genealogy collection

CA782.24 H914wi


Number of boxes: 57

Oversize: 3 folios

Photographs: 1 envelope, 12 photo oversize file folders




May 2000

November 2010


Ellen Zazzarino

Carol Mead

Shane Trost

Chris Basore

Kellen Cutsforth


Cynthia Rand

Kellen Cutsforth

Becky Geller


Ellen Zazzarino

September 2011
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States