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Collection highlight: Martin Stern Jr.'s architectural vision for Autoworld, by Jimmy Chang and Tyler Stanger

By Cyndi Shein on March 20, 2017 12:00 AM | Permalink

Aerial perspective illustrating Stern's conceptual layout for Harrah's Autoworld complex. Martin Stern Architectural Records, 1953-1990. MS-00382. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

UNLV Libraries is home to the Martin Stern Architectural Records.  UNLV School of Architecture students Jimmy Chang and Tyler Stanger explore an unbuilt project of architect Martin Stern Jr., whose projects, from the International Hotel to the first MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, have paved the way for both intellectual thought and physical land in Las Vegas.

Collection highlight: Gary Guy Wilson and the primitive hut, by Tyler Stanger and Jimmy Chang

By Cyndi Shein on October 3, 2016 12:00 AM | Permalink

As one of the oldest of architectural theories, the ‘primitive hut’ has influenced generations of architects. A primitive hut occurs when vertical tree trunks planted in the ground support a horizontal beam that bears a sloped roof to shed rainwater. In 1753 the French theorist Marc-Antoine (Abbe) Laugier argued that the Primitive Hut testifies of architecture’s natural origins and that it, the primitive hut, is the prototype of all built form.

Laugier Primitive Hut
Marc-Antoine (Abbe) Laugier called attention to architecture’s natural beginnings with this image.
Image credit: Wikimedia,

Understanding Architecture Through Special Collections, by Jimmy Chang and Tyler Stanger

By Cyndi Shein on August 15, 2016 12:00 AM | Permalink

As sixth year students in UNLV's School of Architecture, we are preparing research theses for our final year of studies in the Master's program. We are interested in urban history, Jimmy in how urban areas and architecture are portrayed in popular media and Tyler in the architectural development of Las Vegas.  In order to better understand the architectural history of Las Vegas, we are working this summer as interns for UNLV University Libraries Special Collections processing the Gary Guy Wilson and Martin Stern architectural records. It has been a lot of fun to learn from the work of these two influential architects as we discover, organize, rehouse, and describe their collected drawings.

Students from UNLV School of Architecture, Tyler Stanger and Jimmy Chang, identifying, analyzing, comparing, and processing drawings of the Riviera Hotel from the Martin Stern Architectural Records, MS-00382.

Dorothy Keeler: Deputy County Clerk and Motorist, by Angela Moor

By Cyndi Shein on September 29, 2015 9:56 AM | Permalink

Angela Moor, UNLV PhD candidate and Special Collections intern, 2015

Before beginning my internship in Special Collections this summer, I hoped I might come across materials that would be useful for my doctoral dissertation about the history of weddings and divorce in Las Vegas during the 1930s and 1940s.  When I worked on the Dorothy Keeler Papers (MS-00195), I was excited to find some great materials about the early Las Vegas wedding industry and 1930s in Southern Nevada.

Dorothy Keeler portrait, undated

Las Vegas Pride! by Franklin Howard

By Cyndi Shein on September 14, 2015 11:40 AM | Permalink


For many in the LGBT community, summer is a season of travel and celebration. Beginning in June, cities across the United States hold LGBT Pride parades and festivals that draw thousands from the community and its allies. Las Vegas is no exception—the Las Vegas Pride Night Parade will be held on September 18th this year. The Southern Nevada Association of Pride, Inc. (SNAPI) has been in charge of planning Las Vegas LGBT Pride since 1995 and Special Collections has some of the records of one of its executive members, Strutt Hurley, from the early years of the organization.

Hurley was the Director of Entertainment of SNAPI in 1996 and 1997 and her collection features documents that demonstrate how the parades and Pride events were constructed. Among the documents are edited drafts of press releases and sample pages from Pride programs that show how much work and thought went into creating this one event.

Christmas with the Von Tobel Family, 1923 ~by Hana Gutierrez

By Cyndi Shein on December 19, 2014 11:52 AM | Permalink

Von Tobel Family Papers, 19051997. MS-00589. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Box 09 folder 02).

Von Tobel Family Papers, 19051997. MS-00589. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Box 09 folder 02)

Many of the Christmas presents children receive today would have looked very strange under the Christmas tree of Von Tobel family in the 1920s. A small metal rectangle with wires that connect to the ears, an animal made of metal, a box filled with plastics bricks that you assemble yourself—MP3 players, robotic pets, and LEGOs are just some of the gifts that today's children desire during the holiday season that children of the 1920s would never have dreamed of.  While many of the presents children desire fade and change with the times, there is one present that children of all times have wished for … a new bicycle!               

Halloween Happenings in Las Vegas, by Ian M. Baldwin

By Cyndi Shein on October 23, 2014 1:19 PM | Permalink

Halloween Ball Invitation, October 1919. UNLV Special Collections, Wengert Family Papers (MS-00192); box 1, folder 5

Boo! Sometimes Las Vegas can be downright scary. At UNLV Special Collections, archival materials document the city’s rich history of celebrating Halloween. During my 2014 summer internship here, I have been delighted to stumble upon several ghoulish finds from Sin City’s Halloweens past. Take for instance an invitation for a Halloween ball in 1919. Found as I processed the Wengert Family Papers (MS-00192), this invite was sent to a young Las Vegas pioneer shortly after her arrival in Las Vegas. The October 31 ball featured dancing, apple-bobbing, and a costume contest at a local lodge. The artwork of the invitation itself remains in spectacularly good shape. Featuring a black cat, ghost, and witch, it remains an authentic piece of early Halloween history in America. Even in the early days of Las Vegas, residents found time to celebrate the holiday.

Collection Highlight: Thunderbird Hotel Records, by Dallas Reiber

By Cyndi Shein on September 2, 2014 3:36 PM | Permalink

Thinderbird Hotel Records, promotional material

The Thunderbird Hotel Records (MS-00180) are comprised of material that documents the work of this Las Vegas, Nevada hotel's entertainment department from 1964 to 1973. The records consist of photographs, memos, newspaper clippings, and publicity materials. The hotel hosted many entertainment acts that included showgirls, whose costumes exposed various amounts of skin. As I went through the nine boxes of records, I found many interesting images related to showgirls.