The Nevada Historical Society has approximately 400,000 photographs dating from 1862 to the present. The collection covers the entire state, although its greatest strength is from Nye County north. There are unpublished catalogs for each county, as well as topical catalogs for such subjects as Lake Tahoe, transportation, the military and industry.
The collection is exceptionally strong for mining and mining town photographs, from nineteenth-century Virginia City to the early twentieth century boom towns such as Goldfield, Tonopah and Rawhide, as well as a host of flamboyant but short-lived camps such as Dutch Creek, Weepah and Wahmonie.
We also have more than a 1,000 photographs of Nevada’s Native Americans (Paiute, Washoe and Shoshone) and more than nine thousand photographs of early Reno. Boxing, ranching, early saloons, gambling and casinos, Hoover Dam, the Carson Mint, atomic testing, early parades, freight wagons, stages coaches, railroading and ghost towns can be mentioned as additional areas of significant coverage.
As the oldest museum in the State of Nevada, the Society’s museum artifact collection consists of many unique artifacts that encompass more than 15,000 artifacts and works of art, including paintings, objects related to the mining and ranching industries, clothing, and objects used in the daily lives of 19th and 20th century Nevadans. A wonderful collection of Nevada and Great Basin Native American basketry, pottery, and tools are collected.
In addition, the museum collections include numerous artifacts pertaining to Nevada’s gaming industry such as early slot machines, gaming cheating devices, neon signage, an extensive textile collection that includes Hello Hollywood Hello show-girl costumes, and souvenirs produced by casinos.
The museum artifact collection continues to actively seek objects for the permanent and educational collections. Collection materials of interest include textiles, Nevada art, decorative arts, household accessories including dishware, mining minerals and equipment, Nevada fossils, Native American objects, toys, ceremonial artifacts, military and fraternal equipment and regalia.
The Nevada Historical Society’s library, photograph and manuscript collections constitute the largest and most complete repository of materials related to the history of Nevada and the Great Basin. Historians, genealogists, local residents and visitors interested in delving into the past are welcome.
Materials available to the public include books, newspapers and periodicals, print files, maps, government documents, subject files, ephemera, the manuscript collections of diverse individuals and organizations, and over 500,000 photographs.
Our manuscript holdings focus upon the Great Basin, Nevada and the West and consist of over 3000 collections. Collections range in size from a single item to several hundred cubic feet. The bulk of the materials date from the 1850s to the present.
Collection materials include personal papers, topical collections, business records, churches, local governments and schools, as well as civic, educational, charitable, professional, labor and social organizations.
All collections have brief guide descriptions and indexes are available for the larger collections.
The Society’s second building on S. Virginia Street, 1950s. The Society was located in the historic State Building where the Pioneer Center is today.