Las Vegas was a community where people lived and worked long before it became a tourist destination. 

Example photograph from the Dennis mcBride Collection showing people standing in truck bed flying flags including the United States, Nevada, and Gay Pride.
The LGBT Community in Las Vegas is well-documented  and includes images from Las Vegas Gay Pride celebrations such as this one of the Nevada Gay Rodeo Association (April 1998) float from the Dennis McBride Collection.
Example photograph from the Southern Nevada Jewish Community Digital Heritage Project showing past presidents of the Temple Beth Shalom photographed together, ca. 1960.
Past presidents of Temple Beth Shalom, ca. 1960s. The UNLV Libraries launched the Southern Nevada Jewish Community Digital Heritage Project in August 2014. The project will collect documentation and oral histories about the region's Jewish community and provide access to significant historical materials through a rich web portal (coming soon).
Example photograph from the digital portal documenting the African-American Experience. Shows Anna Bailey and other entertainers at the Moulin Rouge, 1955.
The Documenting the African-American Experience digital portal provides images, oral histories and documents that provide insight into to the Black community in Las Vegas.

Special Collections & Archives documents the histories of the people and organizations that have been instrumental in developing the Las Vegas community by collecting the personal papers, newsletters, organizational records, and oral histories of these various groups.

Racial and Ethnic Groups

From the indigenous tribes of southern Nevada to African-Americans, Chinese, and Japanese-Americans and many others, a variety of ethnic groups have called Las Vegas and southern Nevada home over the years. Special Collections & Archives has a number of manuscript collections that provide documentation of their lives and work. The Documenting the African-American Experience project is a digital portal to a wide variety of historical material on blacks in Las Vegas.

Example image from the Lincoln County Museum Collection of a Paiute woman and children washing clothes in a metal basin.
This image of a Paiute woman and children from the Lincoln County Museum Collection is one of many images in our collections depicting indigenous peoples of the southern and central Nevada region.

Books and periodicals in Special Collections & Archives can provide insights into various ethnic communities and groups in Las Vegas. Two helpful books are The Peoples of Las Vegas: One City, Many Faces  and More Peoples of Las Vegas: One City, Many Faces. Special Collections also has many issues of the African-American community newspaper, Sentinel Voice, in its periodicals collection.

Women's Organizations

From the founding of the Mesquite Club in 1911, the first women's group in Las Vegas, women's organizations have long played a role in promoting philanthropy and charitable works in Las Vegas. There are the records of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Gold Star Mothers, Junior League, American War Mothers, U-Wah-Un Study Club, Las Vegas Literary Club, Junior Mesquite, and many others. These collections form part of the Nevada Women's Archive collecting initiative in Special Collections & Archives.

Civic and Community Organizations

A number of political and civic organizations have also contributed to the growth of Las Vegas. Our collections include the local chapters of organizations such as League of Women Voters of Las Vegas Valley, National Organization of Women, American Association of University Women, National League of American Pen Women, American Red Cross, and Variety Children's Charity just to name a few. The Fayle Family Papers contain much information on the early Rotary Club chapter in Las Vegas. The arts community in Las Vegas may be explored in the Allied Arts Council Records, Community Concerts Collection, Las Vegas Art Museum Records, and Nevada Watercolor Society Collection, among others.

LGBT Community Papers, Photographs and Periodicals

The LGBT Community in Las Vegas is also richly documented in Special Collections & Archives from the papers of individuals such as Dan Hinkley, Marge Jacques, Strutt Hurley, Dennis McBride, and Rick L. May to the organizational records of groups such as Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Las VegasEqual Rights Nevada, Las Vegas Men's Club, and many others. We also collect local LGBT periodicals such as the Las Vegas Bugle, Q VegasNight Beat, and others. In addition to these materials, Special Collections & Archives has an extensive collection of oral histories that feature the personal stories of individuals who have been instrumental in shaping the LGBT community in Las Vegas.

Other Organizations and Individuals

Biographical and vertical files in Special Collections & Archives can also provide insight into organizations and individuals that have impacted Las Vegas. Vertical files can be browsed in the Special Collections & Archives Reading Room. An inventory for the Biography Files can be found on the vertical files and newspapers section of the website.