The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Photograph Collection (approximately 1900-2004) depicts the development of the university and the city of Las Vegas. The collection includes images of campus buildings, student activities, sports teams, past university presidents, and Las Vegas in the early twentieth century. Early images depicting the surrounding area are included in this collection as well.
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Scope and Contents Note
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Photograph Collection (approximately 1900-2004) depicts the development of the university and Las Vegas. The collection includes images of campus buildings, student activities, sports teams, past university presidents, and Las Vegas in the early twentieth century. Early images depicting the surrounding area are included in this collection as well. In addition to materials focusing on day-to-day activities on the campus (such as sports, protests, free time, and class time), the images provide insight into the university's growth and public relations activities, such as ceremonies and evening lectures. The materials provide significant historical documentation on the development of Las Vegas, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the surrounding area.
The items described include photographic prints, negatives, and slides; some of the prints have corresponding negatives which are not listed separately. Items listed are photographic prints unless otherwise specified. Images listed specifically as negatives or slide exist only in that format.
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.
This collection is organized into three series:
Series I. Las Vegas and Southern Nevada, 1900-1999
Series II. Nevada Southern University, 1900-1999
Series III. University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 1950-2004
Many of the photographic prints have corresponding negatives or slides. Negatives have been housed separately and can be found in box 06 binder 02. Materials remain in original order.
Biographical / Historical Note
The push for a four year university in the southern part of Nevada began after World War II. The population of Las Vegas began to grow rapidly with the influx of workers during war time. Members of the armed forces returned to Nellis Air Force Base and the casino industry was booming, causing workers to come in droves. The need for a university was great, and many groups lobbied for one. Maude Frazier emerged as the champion of establishing the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She worked in various roles in Nye, Esmeralda, Lincoln, and Clark County school districts from 1906 until she retired as superintendent of Las Vegas Union School District in 1946. When Frazier was elected to the state assembly in 1950 she continued her campaign towards creating a university in Las Vegas.
Obtaining a four year college for Las Vegas did not come without struggle. For as many people who lobbied for a university in the southern part of the state, just as many lobbied against it. The main argument used to fight for access to higher education in Las Vegas was for a local university that allowed teachers to remain in Las Vegas to complete necessary training and course work over the summer. Another strong argument for a local university was to allow workers to attend school and work at the same time. The first classes were held at Las Vegas High School in 1951 because a building was not available to house college classes. By 1955, after many threats to cut the classes altogether due to low enrollment, land was purchased from Estelle Wilbourn. Construction on the newly purchased land began on April 30, 1956. The first building completed, Maude Frazier Hall, was ready for fall classes in 1957.
Since the university was viewed as a branch of the University of Nevada, Reno the original name for the campus was University of Nevada, Southern Regional Division. In 1967 the name changed to Nevada Southern University (NSU) as it gained independence from the University of Nevada, Reno. To further distance the two campuses, NSU chose Beauregard the Rebel Wolf as its mascot symbolizing its desire to be independent from the Reno university. In 1969 the final name for the school was chosen the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
As the Las Vegas Metropolitan area continued to grow at an exponential rate, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas continued to expand as well. The initial 80 acre campus purchased from Estelle Wilbourn in 1955 has grown to a 332 acre campus (2016). The struggle to obtain a robust enrollment has fallen into history. As of 2016 the University Nevada, Las Vegas 28,000 students enrolled and boasts of continuously being one of the most diverse campuses in the nation.
Moehring, Eugene P. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas: A History. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2007.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas Photograph Collection, approximately 1900-2004. PH-00062. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Materials were processed by Special Collections staff. In 2016, as part of a legacy finding aid conversion project, Maryse Lundering-Timpano wrote the collection description in compliance with current professional standards.