The Alice Key Papers (1936-2004) consist of documents detailing Alice Key’s life and work in the African American community, historic preservation, and labor relations in Las Vegas, Nevada. Included in the collection are awards and certificates documenting Key’s achievements, invitations and programs to events, political and civic correspondence, and magazine and newspaper articles both about Key and written by her. The collection also contains photographs.
Finding Aid PDF
Scope and Contents Note
The Alice Key Papers (1936-2004) consist of documents detailing Alice Key’s life and work in the African American community, historic preservation, and labor relations in Las Vegas, Nevada. Included in the collection are awards and certificates documenting Key’s achievements in historic preservation and public service, invitations and programs to local and national events such as United States presidential inaugurations, political and civic correspondence, and magazine and newspaper articles both about Key and written by her. The magazine and newspaper articles span eight decades, with the earliest being a cover story on Key when she was a young dancer. The collection also contains photographs of performers at the Cotton Club and Louisiana Club, which were popular nightlife establishments in the historic Westside neighborhood of Las Vegas, as well as National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) events. There are two VHS tape recordings: one of a KLAS-TV program about Black History Month featuring Key, and a recording of an award luncheon honoring her.
Collection is open for research.
Materials in this collection may be protected by copyrights and other rights. See Reproductions and Use on the UNLV Special Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permissions to publish.
Materials remain in original order.
Biographical / Historical Note
Alice Marie Key was born to Louise and Malcolm Key on March 18, 1911 in Henderson, Kentucky. She moved with her family to Riverside, California where she finished high school, graduating in 1928. Key then moved to Los Angeles, California where she studied journalism at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). While attending UCLA, she met Leroy Broomfield of the Cotton Club in Culver City, California and left school to pursue a career as a dancer and chorus girl. After dancing in California for five years, Duke Ellington recommended her as a dancer for the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York. Key traveled to New York City, New York and went on a six month Cotton Club show tour through Europe, including performances at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, France and the Palladium in London, England.
In 1943, Key stopped dancing to work as a writer for the
Throughout her life, and especially during the 1960s, Key passionately fought for civil rights through various community activities and public jobs. She worked as the public relations manager for the Nevada Committee for the Rights of Women, as the executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as a member of the Clark County Economic Opportunity Board, and was appointed as Nevada's deputy labor commissioner by Governor Richard Bryan in 1983.
After retiring from public service in 1993, Key maintained her community activism through organizations such as the Barbara Jordan Democratic Women's Club, the Moulin Rouge Preservation Association, the Black Las Vegas Historical Society, Inc., and Ladies Who Danced.
Alice Key died in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 29, 2010.
"Alice Key: A Renaissance Woman."
Martin, Michael. "Wisdom Watch: Alice Key."
Alice Key Papers, 1936-2004. MS-00095. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Original accession was donated in 1995 by Alice Key; accession number 95-47. Additional accession numbers; 2008-029, 2013-025, and 2014-11.
Material was processed in 1995 by Joyce Marshall. In 2016, Joyce Moore edited and enhanced the collection description to bring it up to current professional standards. In 2019, Lauren Paljusaj revised the inventory and finding aid in ArchivesSpace.
Some of the photographs in this acquisition were removed from the collection and placed in the Alice Key Photograph Collection, 1930s-1990s. PH-00297. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.