A Guide to the Records of
Sue Wagner
Collection No. 94-58

Sue Wagner

Sue Wagner was born Sue Pooler in 1940 and grew up in Tucson Arizona, where she received a BA in Political Science from the University of Arizona in 1962. She received an MA in History from Northwestern University in 1963. From 1963 to 1969 she was assistant dean of women at Ohio State University, a reporter at the Tucson Daily Citizen, and a government and history teacher at Catalina High School in Tucson.

In 1969, Sue, her husband Peter Wagner, and their two children, Kirk and Kristina, moved to Reno, Nevada, where Peter was employed as a scientist and associate research professor for the Desert Research Institute. In 1980, Peter and three other DRI researchers were killed in a plane crash in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Sue Wagner, a Republican, first became involved in politics in the early 1970s when she worked on Pat Hardy Lewis' campaign for Reno City Council. She was appointed chair of the Reno Blue Ribbon Task Force on Housing and a member of the Mayor's Citizen Advisory Board from 1973-1974. In 1974 she was chosen one of the ten "Outstanding Young Women in America" in 1974.

Wagner served in the Nevada Assembly from 1975-1980 and in the Nevada State Senate from 1981-1989. As a legislator Wagner was an advocate for legislation which helped women and children, pushed for the creation of the state Ethics Commission, and helped insure passage of the 1990 ballot referendum that prohibits the state from amending Nevada's abortion law without a vote of the people. She was widely respected by both Republicans and Democrats.

Sue Wagner was elected as Nevada's first woman lieutenant governor in 1990 and served one term. During the campaign she was in a serious plane crash which left her with major injuries. Despite many surgeries and a legacy of pain left by the accident, Wagner continued her successful campaign and was able to effectively serve as Lt. Governor. Wagner decided not to run for reelection and in 1995 was appointed associate director of the University of Nevada, Reno, Great Basin Policy Research Center.

Wagner has been the recipient of many awards, including the Nevada Women's Fund Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Capital Women's Political Caucus in Carson City, Politician of the Year by the Truckee Meadows Human Services Association, and "breaking the Glass Ceiling Award from Women Executives in State Government.

Scope and Content

The political papers of Sue Wagner were donated to the Special Collections Department in 1994 by Lt. Gov. Wagner. They consist of 23 cubic feet and date from about 1974-1994. There are no restrictions on their access.

The papers of Lt. Wagner are unarranged but have been inventoried for easier access. The bulk of the collection consists of political materials pertaining to her elections and service in the Nevada Legislature but exclude her official records as Lt. Gov. There are a few personal materials, mostly correspondence and greeting cards.

Included in the collection are legislative files, subject files; calendars; staff reports; clippings and articles on either Wagner or topics of interest to her; materials on economic development, tourism, and women's issues; voting record; campaign materials; clippings and articles about other Nevada politicians; files concerning the 1990 plane crash; and speeches. Although the collection is unarranged, groups of like files seem to be in close proximity.

Processed by: Susan Searcy and Rebecca Richards
Date: July 2, 1999

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