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"We Seek to Be Patient": Jeanne Wier and the Nevada Historical Society, 1904-1950


This dissertation focuses on Jeanne Wier and the years she was active in shaping the Nevada Historical Society (NHS), 1904-1950. It is the story of the institution as it unfolded over four decades, but more broadly, it considers how Wier shaped what Amanda Laugesen has framed as the idea of "public historical culture" in the state of Nevada. This culture not only included the collection of documents and books to provide a basis for research, but also the collection of relics for a museum that sought to be a showplace of Nevada's history for her citizens. It includes the means by which the NHS performed outreach to make Nevada's history a viable part of the community through anniversaries and celebrations and its efforts at preserving historic sites. The study considers the tension that arose in Wier's attempts to have the NHS fulfill these different roles and the challenges that she faced in obtaining financial, governmental and community support for the institution. An important consideration of the dissertation is its evaluation of how successful Wier was in achieving the goals of the NHS regarding its mission of developing a historical consciousness within the state and its citizenry. In defining success, the study considers the general volume and frequency of collection donations to the Society as well as the research it supported and the historical papers it published. When possible, the study considers quantitative data such the number of patrons that visited the Society, the number of people attending events and lectures, and the amount of financial support obtained from the legislature and via private funding. Moving beyond numbers, an assessment of her legacy at the NHS must also consider the collections she gathered over the years. Questions of collecting focus and in particular, an exploration of whose history was collected also form part of the study.

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