The last couple weeks have been very productive as I continue to gather information and peruse through the archives, closed stacks, and artifact collections; and finding materials that will tell the story of the history of UNR.
I looked through old ledgers that documented the beginnings of the ROTC, circa 1900. Young men were required to attend as part of their schooling as well as wear the uniforms while on campus. They would be graded in accordance with the drills and their ability to maintain a proper uniform. The ledger documented their names, titles, attendance records, and test scores. It also included notes when the officers in training were not wearing proper uniforms or if they were untidy.
The student and illustrator of the Sagebrush John Kennedy was a delightful find. He has an archive of materials that include drawings of the Wolf Pack athletics, western themes, campus life, and politics. He created a cartoon entitled “Campus Kitty and Casino” that combined humor and student life together; a wonderful addition to the Sagebrush newspaper.
It was also brought to my attention that Hollywood took a liking to our beautiful campus and there were a number of movies filmed at the University during the mid-20th century. Craig Sheppard has a cool illustration of the period and there are many photos that show the actors in various places like the quad, dining hall, and classrooms. Some of the titles include Mother is a Freshman, Mr. Belvedere Goes to College, and Andy Hardy’s Blond Trouble.
The athletic history of the University is extensive. It was a few days of researching athletes, statistics, and newspaper clippings that account the wins, losses, and achievements of individuals and teams. I thought it would be fun to trace the history and evolution of the facilities, the mascot, the cheerleaders, and the spectators over the years. Nevada didn’t become the Wolf Pack until 1922. We were the Sagebrushers and sometimes the Sagehens. A Sagebrush newspaper article from February of that year features a thoughtful consideration of an appropriate new name that would demonstrate the spirit and tenacity of Nevada athletics.
“Why all this agitation for a new name?”, many students have asked. – “What is the objection to Sagebrushers or Sagehens?” “Sagebrushers too long… headline writing is an art in itself.” “Pomonans are Sagehens … the meek and inoffensive Sagehen in no way, shape, or manner can be construed to symbolize NV’s fight or do-or-die determination” … “A Desert Wolf: Did you ever see one in his natural state? A silver gray brute of a beast, whose main characteristic is Endurance and who will fight as long as a spark of life is left in him.”
The last week was a good opportunity to finetune research in the other areas of development of the University such as the University HS that would be eventually dropped once the area school system reached a point to prepare young people in their corresponding districts and allow the University to set a higher standard for admissions and level of education. Extension programs began outreach in the 50s bringing educational services and knowledge to a broader Nevada and included two year programs by mail, night classes, and 4H clubs. The School of Nursing and School of Medicine would come to be in the 1960s, as well as the Planetarium that allowed for inspiration and wonder in the field of science, atmosphere, and astronomy. Reno would evolve into what it is today: a top research institute and hub for innovation. Notably, the Universities in Reno and Las Vegas became arboretums for the state of Nevada in 1985. The rich greenery that dots and spans the landscape of the campus is evidence of this.
With a month remaining in the internship, I will now be moving to organize the different areas of the exhibition space. This includes designating where to place the various themes of the exhibit, narrowing down photos and stories, and writing up the wall text. We are seeking priority in representing the diversity in students and participation. The purpose of this internship project is to tell the story of the University. A lot of amazing people from all over the globe have contributed their generosity, brain power, and effort to create this plot of hope and opportunity. I think this exhibit surrounding the sesquicentennial birthday of the University will bring context, spark pride, and allow for acknowledgement of what a wonderful place this really is.