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Special Collections & University Archives

About Us

  Monday - Friday: 9-5 p.m.
  Second Saturdays: 1-5 p.m.
  Closed holidays: Feb. 17; May 26

Call Special Collections at (775) 682-5665.

The Special Collections and University Archives Department houses, preserves, and provides access to unique, specialized, and historically significant resources to support research, teaching and learning at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Members of the public are welcome to use the collections.

Most of the materials in Special Collections pertain to the history and cultures of Nevada and the Great Basin. University Archives preserves the history of the university in documents, photographs, books, and memorabilia.

Digital Collections

[Image: Special Collections Photo Collection, image of opening page for website and link to digital photo collection]

Photograph Collection

Images of Lake Tahoe

Images of Lake Tahoe

Campus Images

Nevada in Maps

[Image: Sagebrush Vernacular, image of barn and link to digital photo collection]

Sagebrush Vernacular

[Image: Lincoln and Victory Highways in Nevada, image of opening page for website and link to digital photo collection]

Just Passin' Through

[Image: Art Collection of the University of Nevada, image of opening page for website and link to digital photo collection]

Art Collection

[Image: Olga Reifschneider Collection, image of opening page for website and link to digital photo collection]

Reifschneider Photos

[Image: University of Nevada Oral History Archive, image representing Oral History and link to digital transcripts]

University of Nevada Oral History Archive

Special Collections Search



Library Catalog

The catalog lists collections in the Special Collections Department and University Archives, as well as books and other materials the library owns or that you may access.

This keyword search looks for words IN the title, author, subjects and notes in the catalog record.

For more search options, search the Library Catalog directly.

Photograph Database

More information about the Photograph Collection

Manuscript Finding Aids

More information about Manuscript Finding Aids

Architectural Records

More information about Architectural Records

Special Collections News

New Exhibit Commemorates Nevada's 150th Anniversary

NV 150 exhibit"Changing Faces and Places: Making Nevada" is the second in a series of three exhibits portraying 150 years of Nevada history using photographs, manuscripts, books, and videos from Special Collections and University Archives. The exhibit explores the people who settled in Nevada and the cultural environment they created, some of the businesses they developed and organizations they formed, and the pastimes they enjoyed. Located on the third floor of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, the exhibit is free and open for viewing from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday and 1:00 to 5:00 pm on the followng Saturdays: April 12th and May 10th. The exhibit runs through June 22, 2014.

Dr. Holly Walton-Buchanan will give a related presentation on April 2nd at 7:00 pm in the Faculty Graduate Room on the 4th floor of the Knowledge Center. Entitled "Land of the Buckaroo: Historic Ranches of Western Nevada," based on her new book with the same title, the presentation is free and open to the public. Call us at 682-5665 or send an email to to reserve a seat.

Online Local History

Olympics programTwo recent new projects have come to fruition in Special Collections. An online exhibit on the interesting history of the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics is now up. Special Collections also has a new blog to share local history stories we encounter in our collections of manuscripts, photographs and other materials. Recent blog posts are:

Extended Hours: Second Saturdays

Extended HoursSpecial Collections is now open from 1 – 5 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month during spring semester for students and other researchers. The expanded schedule is an experiment to gauge the interest of our visitors. Weekend parking is free in the Whalen Parking Garage near the library, and in metered lots. We hope to see some new and familiar faces in the reading room during the extended hours on these days: March 8th; April 12th; May 10th

Highlights of 2013

2013 was a significant year for Special Collections. In addition to our daily operations during which we provide dedicated, customized research assistance to our users, process and describe manuscript and photograph collections and create on-site and online exhibits, these are some of the milestones we reached:

Jacquelyn Sundstrand
  • Jacquelyn Sundstrand, our Manuscripts Librarian, was nominated by President Obama and approved by the U.S. Senate to serve a 5-year term on the board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. See the Nevada News article for more information.
  • In other staff news, Kimberly Roberts received her master's degree in History and began a new position as our Photo Curator. Jessica Maddox, our Library Assistant, began a master's degree program in Library Science at San Jose State University.
  • The university's yearbook, the Artemisia, is now available online, thanks to a grant from the Sloan Foundation and the efforts of Betty Glass, our University Archivist.
  • The long-awaited online archive of oral history transcripts was completed.
  • Over 50,000 of our digital items are now available in the Digital Public Library of America.
  • A new Special Collections blog was launched and our Facebook page gained followers.
  • Several popular exhibits and well-attended events were sponsored by the department throughout the year(see below).

We are looking forward to another excellent year in 2014, providing online access to more of our materials and making them easier to find, and developing exhibits and events to help celebrate Nevada's 150th anniversary of statehood. Watch for the launch of the Reno Historical mobile app in the early spring. Happy New Year!

Can You Dig It?

Can You Dig It“Can You Dig It? Building Nevada,” is currently on display on the third floor of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. The exhibit highlights historical materials from Special Collections, illustrating the larger-than-life, ambitious projects that built the infrastructure for farming, mining, transportation, and the development of cities and a state university.

The current exhibit is the first in a series of three Special Collections exhibits celebrating Nevada’s 150 years of statehood with the fascinating stories of Nevada’s transformation from a territory to the state we enjoy today. The three exhibits are scheduled during the year leading up to Nevada’s official 150th anniversary on October 31, 2014.

Through photographs, maps, unpublished papers, rare publications, and artifacts, the exhibit focuses on

  • The grand 6-mile Sutro Tunnel that drained and ventilated mines in the 1870s;
  • The massive lumbering operations that entombed magnificent Sierra timber in Comstock mines;
  • The Virginia & Truckee and Carson & Colorado Railroads;
  • The Newlands Project that opened up tens of thousands of desert acres to irrigation;
  • Hoover Dam, with original oil paintings of construction scenes by Maynard Dixon;
  • Reno’s development, from the origins and growth of the University of Nevada, the development of Virginia Street, to its public transportation system and the city’s celebration of the Transcontinental Highway Exposition of 1927.

The exhibit is open to the public 9-5 Monday through Friday through January; admission is free. For more information about the exhibit and Professor William Rowley's related talk, Nevada. . . “This Territory . . . Not Worth Living In” read the December 12th Reno News and Review article.

The Art of Gaming +

The Art of GamingThe Special Collections department at the University Libraries invites you to an exhibit showcasing over 80 pieces of imaginative and whimsical interpretations of gambling and casino life, along with conceptual and advertising art of the industry. The show centers around sculptures that were commissioned by the Stremmel Gallery for Harrah’s in 1995. It also features the artistry of slot machines, casino shows, showgirls, neon signs, historical photos and more.

The exhibit will be located throughout the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center and open for viewing during regular library hours.

Opening reception: Sunday, July 7, 2013 3–5 p.m.

Meet the artists, guided tours, light refreshments and commemorative booklet.

Featuring these artists and collections:

  • Bob Adams
  • Kathleen Akers
  • Joan Arrizabalaga
  • Dwight Davidson
  • Paul DiPasqua
  • Mary Lee Fulkerson
  • Mick Sheldon
  • Peter Shire
  • Therman Statom
  • Larry Williamson
  • Will Durham neon signs
  • Karen Burns showgirl costumes
  • Mistinguett showgirl art
  • IGT conceptual drawings
  • Special Collections photographs
  • Marshall Fey collection
  • Joe McKenna gambling ephemera
  • Steve Stremmel slot machines

Nevada Schools:
Staking a Claim on Education

Children on BurroClosing June 11.

Stop by and see the new exhibit in Special Collections and in the Whittemore Gallery on the first floor of the Knowledge Center. Exhibit cases on the third floor tell the stories of "tiny schools," rural schools, early school districts in Northern Nevada, Reno schools, Indian schools, Bishop Whitaker's exclusive finishing school for girls, the first kindergarten in Reno, the College of Education, and continuing education opportunities for early teachers.

Historical photographs of schools and students illustrate the exhibits and decorate the walls. "Teachers who made a difference" are honored in the gallery niches on the first floor.

Read the Nevada Today news article.

Dishin' the Old Political Dirt
What Really Happened in Nevada Politics

BootsGet a glimpse into Nevada's political past as a panel of former Nevada politicians discuss the events, the people and the decisions behind the state's political scene—all from an insider's perspective. We don't know quite what will come out during the discussion, but we know we'll hear things we haven't heard or read before!


  • Richard H. Bryan—Former Nevada Attorney General, Governor, and U. S. Senator.
  • Patricia D. Cafferata—Attorney, member of the Nevada Assembly, and the first woman to hold the office of Nevada State Treasurer (1982-1986)
  • Keith Lee (Moderator)—Attorney, lobbyist, political operative and former campaign manager
  • Marlene Lockard—Chief of staff serving under Governor Richard H. Bryan, and as Senator Bryan's State Director
  • Sue Wagner—Member of Nevada Assembly and Senate, and first woman to hold the office of Nevada Lieutenant Governor (1991-1995)

This event is brought to you by the Special Collections department, in conjunction with their current exhibit "Politics of Our Past."

Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 3pm
Admission & Parking: Free
Wells Fargo Auditorium
Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, 1st Floor
Seating is limited, please RSVP:

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