Monthly Programs

  • February 2020
  • March 2020
  • April 2020

John L. Smith, Author and Journalist: "The Westside Slugger: Joe Neal's Lifelong Fight for Social Justice"

  • Date: Sunday, February 2, 2020 (first Sunday)
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

John SmithThe Westside Slugger is the powerful story of civil rights in Las Vegas and Nevada through the eyes and experience of Joe Neal, a history-making state lawmaker in Nevada. Neal rose from humble beginnings in Mound, Louisiana, during the Great Depression to become the first African American to serve in the Nevada State Senate.

John L. Smith is a longtime journalist and the author of more than a dozen books on some of the most significant characters in Las Vegas history. In three decades as a daily columnist with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, he garnered many state and national awards for his work. In 2016, Smith was named to the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame and was part of a group of reporters to receive the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics from the University of Oregon, the Society of Professional Journalists award for Ethics, and the James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism from Northwestern University.


Samantha Szesciorka, Assistant Curator, Wilbur D. May Center: Wilbur D. May

  • Date: Wednesday, February 19, 2020 (third Wednesday)
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

Samantha SzesciorkaBorn on December 28, 1898, Wilbur May was the third son of David May, founder of The May Department Stores Company. Wilbur was a rancher, pilot, artist, philanthropist, and world traveler who lived in Reno from 1936 until his death on January 20, 1982. The museum's collection derives from over 40 trips Wilbur made around the world, and include T'ang Dynasty pottery, African masks, statues and artwork, Inuit scrimshaws, Egyptian scarab figures, Greek icons, wildlife dioramas and a shrunken head from South America. Also featured is a re-creation of the living room, bedroom, tack room, and big game trophy room from Wilbur's 2,600-acre (1,100 ha) Double Diamond Ranch in South Reno.

Samantha Szesciorka is the Assistant Curator at the Wilbur D. May Center and the Editor in Chief at Sagebrush Rider.

Dr. Christine Johnson, Collection Manager, Nevada Historical Society: Nevada State Board on Geographic Names—How Do the Mountains Get their Names?

  • Date: Sunday, March 1, 2020 (first Sunday)
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

Christine JohnsonDid you know that Nevada is considered to be the most mountainous state in the country? With more than 300 named ranges, Nevada's topography contains thousands of peaks, valleys, mounts, buttes, bluffs, cutoffs, mountains, points, and more. The Nevada State Board on Geographic Names has been in place since 1985, working to advise the U.S. Board on new name suggestions, research current names of features, and weigh in on controversies when presented. This talk will provide a history of the board, operational procedures, provide a look at why and how features get named, and highlight a few interesting and noteworthy features on the Nevada landscape.

Dr. Christine Johnson is the Collection Manager at the Nevada Historical Society and adjunct faculty in the departments of Anthropology and Geography at the University of Nevada, Reno.


Jerry Wagner: ALSOS — The Hunt for Hitler’s A-Bomb

  • Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 (third Wednesday)
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

Jerry WagnerGerman scientists split the atom in 1938; by all accounts their nuclear program is 2–3 years ahead of any other country. As war breaks out in Europe, Einstein writes to Roosevelt warning him about the development of a Nazi atomic bomb and imploring the president to begin a similar effort. Even as victories mount, General Eisenhower fears the German will deploy radioactive bombs against advancing Allied troops. In 1943, as part of the Manhattan Project, a clandestine group of scientists and military personnel, ALSOS, are tasked with finding and capturing German nuclear scientists and their labs before Hitler can change the outcome of the war. Unforgettable and unlikely characters, poignant moments, suspense and even comedy characterize this piece of history. And a special twist: the Reno connection?

Jerry Wagner moved to Reno with his wife seven years ago after living in a small mountain town in western Panama. He retired in 2003 from a 40–year career of managing a variety of environmental programs at the federal, state and territorial levels. In Reno, the Wagners volunteer with a number of organizations and events, are active gardeners and have a small vineyard from which they produce three varieties of wine. Jerry's interest in the WWII ALSOS operation stemmed from reading a book about the Hotel Ritz in Paris and it became a minor obsession after discovering the Reno connection to the story.

Sharon Honig-Bear: A Taste for History

  • Date: Sunday, April 5, 2020 (first Sunday)
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

Sharon Honig-BearCome savor a visual history of local food, drink and the industries that surround them! "Edible Traditions" columnist Sharon Honig-Bear has fashioned a presentation based on her past four years of columns in Edible Reno Tahoe magazine. There are new images that were never published in the magazine. Discover unknown stories like sugar beet production in Fallon, Chicken Soup Hot Springs in Washoe Valley and the turkey farms near where Park Lane once stood. The presentation is fast-moving and full of surprises about your backyard—the food that was once enjoyed in the area.

Sharon Honig-Bear is a long-time board member and tour leader for Historic Reno Preservation Society. In addition, she was a restaurant columnist for the Reno Gazette-Journal and is now a columnist for Edible Reno Tahoe magazine.


Debbie Hinman: Alice's Journey

  • Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2020 (third Wednesday)
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

Debbie HinmanIn 1909, intrepid 22-year-old Alice Ramsey made history as the first female cross-country motorist, driving a Maxwell DA from New York to San Francisco in 59 days. Coming through Reno in August, she stayed overnight in the Riverside Hotel. Hear about her amazing journey in a time before interstate highways and before most women had even considered learning to drive.

Debbie Hinman is a Reno native and UNR graduate. Active with HRPS since 2004, she is a researcher and writer for HRPS's quarterly publication, FootPrints, a walking tour guide and a board member. She is also a member of the City of Reno Historical Resources Commission. She credits Pat Klos' early HRPS walking tours with sparking her interest in local history.

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