Special Collections holds over 11,000 linear feet of manuscript collections that document the history of gaming, Las Vegas, and Southern Nevada.
Manuscripts are original records, either handwritten, typed, or printed, that have been created or gathered together by individuals, organizations, institutions, or agencies to document their transactions, ideas, decisions, or discussions. They may be in the form of correspondence, diaries, ledgers, memoranda, minutes, accounts, reports, literary creations, title deeds, legal documents, and photographs. Manuscripts serve as primary sources that provide first-hand documentation and evidence of the events, decisions, ideas, and actions that shape the development of a society or community.
About the Manuscript Collections
Our manuscript collections cover a broad swath of Las Vegas and Southern Nevada history and extend beyond Clark County into the mining towns, camps, and companies of central and eastern Nevada. As part of a major regional collection, they document the early history of Las Vegas as a railroad town, its pioneer settlers, and its incorporation into a city with a Chamber of Commerce that actively promoted settlement.
The collections also provide insight into the Las Vegas that developed following the the legalization of gambling in Nevada in 1931. Major collections on the hotels and casinos from the 1950s-1960s (Sands, Dunes, Thunderbird, Frontier, and Stardust) that transformed the city into a major tourist destination are complimented by more recent corporate archive acquisitions from the major gaming corporations on the Las Vegas Strip. These collections also illustrate the history of entertainment in Las Vegas, as do the personal papers of show producers and performers. The archives of major architects illustrate the growth of the Las Vegas Strip and its distinct architecture, as well as its own unique art form, neon, contained in the corporate records of the Young Electric Sign Company.
Moving beyond the Strip and the Las Vegas most familiar to tourists, we have significant environmental collections that focus on issues relating to water and sustainability, and to the Nevada Test Site and nuclear waste in this desert region. A large number of collections document various aspects of the Las Vegas community and its residents, from different racial and ethnic groups, to women's community organizations, to the records of affinity groups. Other important collections consider the lives and works of Las Vegas politicians and public figures both locally and nationally.
For more detailed information on our collections, consult the collecting strengths section of this site.
Access the Manuscript Collections
- Browse a list of our manuscript collection summaries by title, or explore a list of manuscript collections summaries organized by subject.
- Search collection summaries for all manuscript collections.
- Search detailed finding aids and inventories for many manuscript collections. Some finding aids are only available in our reading room but copies may be requested via firstname.lastname@example.org