UNLV Special Collections is full of wonderful collections about gaming, showgirls, railroads, mining, and Nevada politicians. But also housed in our repository are a wealth of resources on environmental protection and activism in Southern Nevada.
These collections help researchers explore how and why Southern Nevada became such a highly contested region to activists, anti-war protesters, and the military. Moreover, these collections illustrate fundamental aspects about Nevada’s history: they portray complicated interplays between humanity and the land, indigenous and non-indigenous settlers, humans and animals, and scientific curiosity and compassionate caution.
In observance of Oct. 24’s International Day of Climate Action, here’s a sampling of environmentally themed collections demonstrating how people in Southern Nevada have taken action against environmental challenges.
Nevada Test Site Records
The Nevada Test Site is in Nye County, approximately 65 miles north of Las Vegas. It was established by President Harry S. Truman as the testing ground for the U.S. military’s nuclear weapons. Before the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed by United States in 1963, the NTS was home to 100 aboveground nuclear tests; after 1963 and until 1992, the NTS held 828 additional tests underground. These tests, coupled with the anti-war and environmental movements of the 1960s and 1970s, made Southern Nevada a hotbed for environmental activism, which is well documented in Special Collections.
Nevada Desert Experience Records
This collection contains the files of the anti-nuclear organization Nevada Desert Experience (NDE), which held numerous protests at the NTS. Founded in 1984 by Franciscans, Catholic nuns, and anti-war protesters, the NDE advocated preserving life and the environment by banning nuclear weapons. The collection documents the group’s annual protests at the NTS, which began in 1983.
The collection also includes documents from the NDE’s predecessor, the Sagebrush Alliance, as well as the unincorporated protests at the NTS. Materials include board of directors’ files, financial documents, speeches, correspondence, newspaper clippings, cartoons, artwork, publications, conference programs, Congressional testimony, photographs, audio and video cassette tapes, and newspapers.
Nuclear testing also drew the attention of Greenpeace U.S.A., which was founded in 1975 in San Francisco, California. In 1976, Greenpeace U.S.A. established Greenpeace Pacific Southwest, which in turn created an office in Las Vegas with the intention of organizing activism against nuclear testing and wildlife habitat loss. The Greenpeace Pacific Southwest Records (MS-00363) contain files from both Greenpeace U.S.A. and Greenpeace Pacific Southwest that document Greenpeace’s role in environmental activism in Southern Nevada. The collection contains newspaper articles, newsletters, publications, financial records, protest information, correspondence, meeting minutes, articles of incorporation, Freedom of Information Act requests, maps, and documents related to various environmental issues such as nuclear waste, land use, wildlife protection, and international environmental activism.
Special Collections is home to dozens of collections that focus on environmental activism, including collections by activists Jeff van Ee (MS-00470), Mary Kozlowski Pichot (MS-00375), Corbin Harney (MS-00308), and Lois Sagel (MS-00571), as well as from environmental organizations like Citizen Alert (MS-00415), Aquavision (MS-00410), and the Sierra Club (MS-00289).
The Alice P. Broudy Papers on Broudy v. United States (MS-00097) offer a bleak look at radioactive fallout, and they document her suit against the United States for compensation following the death of her husband from radiation exposure. Other collections document work at the Nevada Test Site, offering stunning pictures of nuclear tests, the NTS range, and the wildlife that now inhabits the NTS. These collections include the Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Yucca Mountain, Nevada (MS-00603), the Baneberry Collection (MS-00019), the U.S. Department of Energy Photograph Collection on the Nevada Test Site (PH-00282), the Edward G. Halligan Photograph Collection on the Nevada Test Site (PH-00101), and the Bill Beam Papers (MS-00531).