History program limps ahead

The Oral History Program at UNR still exists, “albeit in greatly truncated form,” as a result of the state budget crunch, according to director Tom King, who himself is moving to the History Department. There had been reports that the program would not survive.

Oral history is recording and preserving the personal recollections of people’s experiences, as opposed to the writing of memoirs or autobiography. The Nevada OH program has published oral histories by figures like Nevada civil rights pioneer James McMillan, former governor Grant Sawyer, mining industry figure Verne Foster, and casino executives Warren Nelson and Mead Dixon.

In a memo to OH supporters, King wrote that “the program has enjoyed success in attracting grants and contracts and in fundraising from private donors. We will step up such efforts, and I am confident we will have sufficient funding to hire needed transcribers, editors, etc.”

At a meeting of the Nevada Judicial Historical Society, OH assistant director Mary Larson said the program will now depend on “soft money” like contributions and grants. She said a number of projects are still in the pipeline, including legal histories undertaken jointly with the Society, plus some gambling and women’s athletics projects. King’s memo says Larson’s own position is gone, and he will rehire her as a researcher when money becomes available from non-government sources.