Headshot of Ronald James

Ronald James

2014 Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Inductee


Ronald James was born in Reno and is the author or co-author of over a dozen books, including The Roar and the Silence: A History of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode and Uncovering Nevada’s Past: A Primary Source History of the Silver State. More recently, his co-edited book, The Gold Rush Letters of E. Allen Grosh and Hosea B. Grosh, received an “Award of Special Recognition” from the National Mining History Association. James obtained his dual bachelor's degree in anthropology and history in 1978 and his Master of Arts degree in medieval history with an emphasis in folklore in 1981 from the University of Nevada, Reno. He later studied at the Irish Department of Folklore at University College, Dublin. In 1997, he began serving as an adjunct professor with the Historic Preservation Program in affiliation with the Anthropology Department at UNR. His articles and photographs on folklore, history, architectural history, and archaeology have appeared in popular and academic journals in six countries. He served on the Board of Editors and as a manuscript referee for The Western Historical Quarterly which is published by Utah State University. He wrote over 100 entries for the Online Nevada Encyclopedia and served as its section editor. Besides writing, James is very involved with the state. An accomplished musician, he played with the Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band for many years. He administered the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office from 1983 until his retirement in 2013. In 2006, he was appointed as a panelist for the White House Initiative for Preserve America Summit, and won an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History for curating the exhibit "Havens in a Heartless World: Archaeology of the Virginia City Saloon." In 2009, he was appointed to the Advisory Board for the National Park System. From 2004 to 2013, he served on the National Historic Landmarks Committee, both as member and chairman. In 2013, he helped organize the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture, serving as its executive director until the spring of 2015. He began serving as scholar in residence for the Fourth Ward School Museum in Virginia City in 2002.