Collection Highlight: Matthew O’Brien Papers by Tammi Kim

Photograph of Matthew O’Brien taken by Danny Mollohan for Beneath the Neon.  From the Matthew O'Brien Papers (MS-00849).

Tammi Kim, Accessioning Archivist in UNLV Libraries Special Collections & Archives, highlights one of the many collections she has organized over the past year. Her work is essential because it enables us to provide access to our donated collections in a timely fashion. 

This blog post highlights one of our recently accessioned collections, the Matthew O’Brien Papers (MS-00849), which provide a glimpse into writer Matthew O’Brien’s journey into researching and writing about the lesser known aspects of life and community in Las Vegas, Nevada. Beneath the neon lights and the flash and glam of Las Vegas is an entire community living underground in the city’s flood channels. O’Brien spent five years exploring this community and wrote about his experiences in the 2007 book Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas. A few years later O’Brien once again uncovered another side of Las Vegas with My Week at  the Blue Angel: And Other Stories from the Storm Drains, Strip Clubs, and Trailer Parks of Las Vegas. He donated his papers to UNLV Libraries Special Collections & Archives in 2017. 

Photograph of the Blue Angel Motel taken by Bill Hughes. From the Matthew O'Brien Papers (MS-00849).

The collection reveals O’Brien’s painstaking process of researching the communities documented in his books. There are pages of handwritten notes, marked-up drafts of the two manuscripts, and a well-worn map of flood zones in Las Vegas where O’Brien kept track of the tunnels he visited in conducting his research for Beneath the Neon. The collection also includes dozens of photographs taken by Danny Mollohan for Beneath the Neon and Bill Hughes for My Week at the Blue Angel

Advance Reading Copy and notes for My Week at the Blue Angel. From the Matthew O'Brien Papers (MS-00849).

If you'd like to learn more about the Mathew O'Brien Papers, check out this link to the collection's finding aid, or better yet, stop by and view the papers and his two books at the UNLV Libraries Special Collections & Archives on the 3rd floor of Lied Library, UNLV campus. 

Ask Us