The 50 Treasures for 50 Years exhibit from the University Libraries celebrates the 50th anniversary of Special Collections and Archives. The exhibit, on display through December 2017, highlights the many collections housed in Special Collections and Archives that document the history of Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.
The campus community is invited to a celebration for the exhibit at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 at 2:30 p.m. in the Lied Library lobby.
Among the most popular items on display is a recreation of a Bechtel Scrapbook, handmade by library staff so the public to leaf through the photo collection.
Monumental and awe-inspiring, Hoover Dam attracted swarms of photographers to document its construction in the 1930s. The UNLV University Libraries Special Collections and Archives houses more than 1,000 photographs of the construction from photographers working for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation or the "Six Companies," the consortium that built the dam. These photographs document the progress and successful completion of this enormous federal contract.
Ben Glaha, an employee of the Bureau of Reclamation, photographed all aspects of the dam’s construction. His photographs were used in press releases, periodicals, books, pamphlets, and slideshows to demonstrate that the dam was structurally sound and government funds were used wisely. The Six Companies wanted its own photographic record to highlight its role and hired Walter J. Luebke as the official photographer. His photographs were collected into a series of scrapbooks entitled “Photographic Record, Hoover Dam Project, Six Companies” and presented to various representatives of the companies. Few of these scrapbooks survive intact.
The scrapbooks in Special Collections and Archives were designated “W.H. Bechtel Scrapbooks, volume one and two,” although only one original cover survives and is titled as volume three. This cover is gilt stamped and bears the name W.H. Bechtel, president of Bechtel Company, the leading partner in the Six Companies. Whether the scrapbooks were originally all contained in volume three, or if there were two other volumes – one containing a series of loose photos that were removed from a scrapbook – can only be speculated. Comparing the scrapbook to ones at Oregon State University, it is clear that each was individually assembled with a different selection of photographs, mounting methods, numbering, and descriptions.