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Nevada Historical Society - Mission

The Nevada Historical Society's mission today is to receive, collect, preserve, and conserve objects pertaining to but not exclusively related to the state of Nevada, Washoe County, the Great Basin region, the Lake Tahoe area, and the West as pertaining to the history of Nevada, in order to display, research, educate, exhibit and preserve the history for the people of Nevada. 

The Nevada Historical Society is home to the state’s oldest museum. It was founded in 1904 with the purpose of collecting, preserving, and interpreting Nevada’s heritage. Because NHS has been collecting for such a long time, the objects on display and the research collections represent exceptional historic resources. The Shepperson Nevada Gallery covers the range of life in Nevada and the great Basin from prehistoric native American inhabitants to the modern growth of Reno and Las Vegas. The Janice Pine Reno History Gallery covers the story about Reno's development from past to present. The Changing Hallway Gallery and Conference Room present ongoing series of temporary and traveling exhibitions dealing with Nevada and the West.

A bill to make the Nevada Historical Society a state agency was passed by the 1907 legislature and signed by Governor John Sparks on March 20, 1907. In 1911, the legislatures appropriated $5,000 for the construction of a building, located at the entrance to the University of Nevada campus, to house and display the growing collection of Nevada materials.

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Dr. Jeanne E. Wier

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Nevada Historical Society's Seal

Nevada Historical Society - About

Founder and First Director

For 46 years, from 1904 to 1950, Dr. Jeanne Elizabeth Wier was the Executive Secretary, what is now known as Director, of the Nevada Historical Society. As a founding member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, the University-based organization behind the NHS's origins, she was the Nevada Historical Society’s guiding light. Wier was essentially the Society, since she had taken it upon herself to begin collecting Nevada materials and storing them I her home. With a full time job at the University of Nevada, first as an associate professor of History and then as the head of the Department of History and Political Science, Wier still managed to create a viable Nevada Historical Society – and she did it without ever receiving a salary.

She wrote tirelessly to many ‘old timers’ around the state asking them to record their reminiscences of early Nevada. She spent most of her summer vacations on the road, in trains, wagons, and even on horseback searching the state for what she termed ‘historical relics’ to bring back to the Society’s collections. She believed that if the history of Nevada wasn’t collected immediately that it would be lost to future generations.

It is through her exhaustive and relentless work that many of the resources available for the study of Nevada exist today. It’s been 111 years since Jeanne Elizabeth Wier began her quest to save Nevada’s history by preserving all types of collection materials. The Nevada Historical Society and the citizens of Nevada continue to benefit from her vision to create Nevada’s oldest cultural institution.