Nan Doughty wrote many articles about early Nevada history, focusing on the mining communities of Candelaria and Tonopah. She was born on June 27, 1907 to Thorwald A. Siegfriedt, an attorney, and Nanelia Lou-Vee Bradford. During the early twentieth century, most of the family dropped the last letter in their last name, spelling it Siegfried. Her parents named her Bertha Nanelia, but she always went by either Nanelia or Nan. She attended Queen Anne High School in Seattle, Washington. In high school, she wrote poetry for the school paper, was a member of the Honor Society, Girls Athletic Association, Girls Club, Latin Club and French Club. Active in sports, Nan ran track and played basketball, baseball, and tennis. She graduated from high school on June 13, 1923. Her parents divorced in 1924 and her mother worked as a real estate agent.
In 1925, Nan enrolled at Stanford University and graduated with her English degree in 1930. Nan excelled at the arts and made wood cuts; her work appeared in galleries throughout Seattle. She married William Frank “Doc” Doughty on June 10, 1944. The couple had no children and they divorced in 1957.
After her divorce, Nan returned to school and earned her Master’s degree in English at Arizona State University in 1963. She then completed her doctoral coursework at the University of California, Riverside, but left before finishing her dissertation. She taught English as a Second Language courses in Riverside.
In 1966, Nan moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and began teaching English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). In addition to teaching, she began researching and collecting materials related to her family's activities in early Nevada mining towns. She wrote about Nevada history and mining for the The Nevadan supplement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Central Nevada Historical Society's publication, Central Nevada's Glorious Past. She taught at UNLV until 1972. Doughty passed away in Las Vegas on June 29, 1987 at the age of 80.