History of Nevada Diversity

William Nellis

Born in Santa Rita, New Mexico, in 1916, William H. Nellis moved to the town of Searchlight as a child. His father was a miner, and his grandmother ran a boarding house. He moved to Las Vegas as a teenager, attending Las Vegas High School. Later he went to work for the railroad, as many local boys did in the years before World War II.

Armenians in Southern Nevada

When Las Vegas started as a small railroad town in 1905, Armenian farmers, craftsmen, and merchants showed little interest in settling in a place best known for its arid desert, sparse natural resources, and limited trade connections. But over time, Armenians escaping persecution and genocide in their ancestral homeland in the eastern Mediterranean began to settle in Los Angeles, Fresno, and Las Vegas. Though Southern Nevada seemed at first to be an unlikely spot to forge a “new Armenia,” it is now home to 20,000 Armenians.

Archaeology on the Comstock

Professional archaeology has yielded many insights into Comstock life over a century ago. The discovery of an African American saloon, the world's oldest Tabasco Sauce bottle, and the first examples of human DNA retrieved from artifacts other than human remains have captured international headlines. Still, the real story involves the patient, labor-intensive analysis of hundreds of thousands of artifacts examined in context.

Anti-Semitism in Nevada

Except in a few published writings, blatant anti-Semitism was a rarity in nineteenth century Nevada. After 1900, mean-spirited references to Jews could be found in private correspondence and diaries. While anti-Semitism never became widespread or organized, isolated activities marred the otherwise friendly environment enjoyed by Nevada Jews in the twentieth century.

Ann Ronald

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Ann Ronald was born in 1939. She migrated to the high desert of Northern Nevada in 1970 to take a teaching position in the Department of English at the University of Nevada, Reno following completion of her PhD in Victorian literature at Northwestern University. In addition to teaching for more than three decades at the university, she also served a stint as dean of the College of Arts and Science.


The site of modern-day Winnemucca has been important to Nevada since the first explorers traversed the region in the late 1820s. It later became a critical place for early settlers, and marked the point at which the immigrant trail headed south toward the Sierra Nevada passes. Winnemucca became a major distribution point for the Central Pacific Railroad, established itself as the center of commerce in north-central Nevada, and was the site of a major bank robbery that remains controversial to this day.

Anasazi Rock Art

Anasazi and other Native American groups in Nevada came over 8,000 years ago and created a lasting legacy in rock art images carved or painted on stone surfaces. While we do not know what many of the images mean, native people living in Nevada today have traditional stories that incorporate some of the images or scenes.

Americans at the Birth of Nevada

Historians of ethnicity and immigration often overlook those born in the United States, and yet these people have just as much sense of a self-identity as someone from another country. Between 1850 and 1860, virtually everyone in the western Great Basin except the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe Indians came from somewhere else, and the newly-arrived brought distinct, diverse experiences and prejudices.

Alice Maud Hartley

Alice Maud Hartley (1864-1908) is a tragic figure in the annals of Nevada art. She was born in England, and arrived in Reno in 1892. It was then that her life became entangled with Nevada state senator Murray D. Foley. On July 26, 1894, following a tense argument, she fatally shot the senator. A high-profile trial ensued, and the artist was sent to the Nevada State Prison where she made modest sketches of sights around the prison grounds.

Alice Key: A Renaissance Woman

Dancer, journalist, community activist, and political leader, Alice Key made many contributions to Las Vegas and civil rights.

Born on March 18, 1911 in Henderson, Kentucky, she moved as an infant to Riverside, California, with her entire family. She grew up across the street from her grandfather, who instilled a fierce black pride in her. On the day of her high school graduation in 1928, she left to join her mother, who had taken a position in Los Angeles a few months earlier.


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