The Nevada Women’s History Project was founded by former Clark County State Senator Jean Ford to collect and disseminate information about Nevada women to historians and the general public through its website, publications and other public outreach. Upon retiring from political life, Jean became Acting Director of Women Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1991. In the spring of 1992 she designed and taught a new course: “Nevada Women on the Frontier,” which dealt with the study relating to the historical and current aspects of women’s history in Nevada. In the course development she was amazed to find that there was a glaring absence of information specific to Nevada women. Sometime later, while compiling an anthology of Nevada women she confirmed her hypothesis that the subject of women’s participation in Nevada’s history was indeed, comparatively nonexistent and nebulous.
In 1993-94 Jean and some like-minded individuals set out to correct this important deficiency in a series of meetings to brainstorm how they could publicly highlight the important roles women played in the history of the state. The group chose the name Nevada Women’s History Project with the stated mission to; “Collect and disseminate information about Nevada women of every race, class and ethnic background.” The organization was initially a program of the nonprofit Nevada Women’s Fund organization but, in 2014, the NWHP achieved its own nonprofit status.
The organization aggressively sought to fulfill its mission by publishing books, conducting and publishing oral histories, writing biographies, and hosting a website, www.nevadawomen.org. The Nevada Women’s History Project’s first published books under Jean Ford’s leadership were Nevada Women’s History, A Guide to Archives and Manuscripts in Nevada Repositories (1998) and Women in Nevada History, an Annotated Bibliography of Published Sources (2000), shortly after Jean Ford’s death. The organization has since published, or sponsored five books, conducted over 175 oral histories, written 150 biographies, funded 11 videos, and added a suffrage website, suffrage100nv.org. NWHP also suggested, promoted, and funded the State of Nevada Sarah Winnemucca statue which was accepted as Nevada’s second statue in our nation’s Statuary Hall Collection in Washington D.C. The Nevada Women’s History Project also funded a second full-size statue located in the Nevada State Capitol and a third, smaller maquette located in Las Vegas. Numerous programs on Nevada women have also been produced for the general public.
Jean Ford and those early founding members developed a vision for writing Nevada women back into history. They defined the mission for discovering and showcasing unrecognized contributions Nevada women have made in this great state. They formed the Nevada Women’s History Project as the vehicle to accomplish the mission. These past 26 years have been well spent towards meeting the goals first set out by that initial group. Our mission is never ending. Women’s history is never static, so there will be women and accomplishments to discover and write about for as long as there are women contributing to their communities and to our state. What the organization has achieved so far cannot be understated. Women are now being written into Nevada’s history.