EFFIE MONA MACK
The information below has been compiled from a variety of sources. If the reader has access to information that can be documented and that will correct or add to this woman’s biographical information, please contact the Nevada Women’s History Project.
At A Glance:
Born: October 25, 1888, Seneca, Kansas
Died: February 1, 1969, Reno, Nevada
Maiden Name: Mack
Race/Nationality/Ethnic Background: Caucasian
Primary City and County of Residence and Work:
Reno, Washoe County, and Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada
Major Fields of Work: Nevada history, education
Reno High teacher wrote volumes on Nevada history
A prolific writer, historian and beloved teacher, the woman whose name graces the University of Nevada’s Social Sciences Building also coached the Reno High School girls’ basketball team to the state championships.
The championship was a highlight of Effie Mona Mack’s first five years at the high school, where she was a fixture in the history and political science department for forty years, from 1914-1954. But as much as she enjoyed her coaching stint, her real passion was learning about, teaching and writing about the history of her adopted state.
Born in Seneca, Kansas, on October 25, 1888, Mack was the daughter of Emeline and Orel Mack. At the age of 12, the family, which included her brother and two sisters, moved to Reno. After graduating from Reno High School, she received her first degree, a Bachelor of Arts, from the University of Nevada. She traveled to the mining boom town of Manhattan, about 50 miles north of Tonopah, where she served as teacher and principal of the Manhattan School for a year. She returned for a brief stay in Reno, where a local society columnist called her “one of Reno’s most popular girls, who will be exceedingly missed” before she traveled east to Smith College in Massachusetts, where she received her second Bachelor of Arts degree, this one in history, in 1912. She returned to the University of Nevada for more classes, before going to the west-central Nevada railroad town of Mina for one year of teaching.
In 1914, Effie Mack started teaching history at her high school alma mater. While teaching, she continued her studies at the University of Nevada until she got her Master of Arts degree in History. She often traveled during her summers to Berkeley, to attend summer courses and to visit her brother Leonard.During her college years, she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, a tie she maintained for many years thereafter and in 1929, she was inducted into Sigma Kappa Alpha, a history honor society. Mack started publishing historical works in the 1930s. Her first was the dissertation for her doctorate from the University of California, at the time the only doctorate awarded for Nevada history. The work was called William Morris Stewart, Empire Builder, 1827-1909, about the influential, and often controversial, gold miner turned politician for California and Nevada. She published many Nevada history texts, the first called History of Nevada – Through the Civil War, which was published in 1935. Another, called simply Nevada came out a year later. Together with Byrd Sawyer, she authored Our State: Nevada in 1939, which was required reading for seventh and eighth graders. Samuel Clemens was her subject in 1947, with publication of Mark Twain in Nevada, which took second place in the 100th anniversary contest of Scribner’s Magazine. It describes Clemens’ evolution from, as the Reno Evening Gazette put it, “a brash young man who came to this state on a carpetbagger’s train into Mark Twain, a writer and humorist of national repute.”
In 1953, she and Idel Anderson and Beulah Singleton, two other Reno High history teachers, wrote Nevada Government, a study of the administration and politics of state, county, township, and cities, at the time a much needed secondary social studies text. Going in a very different direction, she took the nom de plume Zeke Daniels to write about renowned Virginia City prostitute Julia Bulette in the book Jule Bulette in 1959. 1961 saw the publication of two more books, her co-authored history, This is Nevada, as well as Territorial Centennial of Nevada- 1861-1864. Mack reached back to her doctoral interest in William Stewart, with the publication of William Morris Stewart, 1827-1909. The Indian Massacre of 1911 at Little High Rock Canyon, Nevada came out in 1968.
Despite her growing renown as a Nevada history expert, Mack came up against the Reno school system’s mandatory retirement age of 65 in 1954. She requested that the school board extend her contract into 1955, but after a contentious board meeting, only one trustee voted to retain her. It was felt that making an exception for her would split the district’s 260 teachers into opposing factions. Mack made the most of the situation, however, traveling south to be part of the first faculty at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, teaching history and political science there for two years.
Mack lived much of her life with her mother, well known suffragist Emma Mack, who died in 1947. In 1950, Effie donated her mother’s extensive collection of historical papers to the Nevada State Historical Society. It is known as the Sara Emeline Mack collection, and documents much of Nevada women’s history during the first half of the 20th century.
In addition to her scholarly work, Effie Mona Mack was very busy with Reno organizations. She was active in Red Cross work and Liberty Bond drives, and could be seen serving food to soldiers at the Reno depot during World War I. She was a charter member and organizer of the Reno branch of the American Association of University Women. Mack was awarded life membership in the Oregon Trail Memorial Association in 1937. She served as a member of the advisory committee for Nevada women’s participation in the New York World Fair in 1939. She was a charter member of the Reno unit of American Women’s Voluntary Service, and she participated in discussions on the writing of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco in 1945. She helped organize Genoa’s celebration of the 110th anniversary of its founding and Virginia City’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first significant discovery of silver in the United States.
In 1950, she arranged a five-month course for teachers on “Education for the Atomic Age,” one of the first teacher development classes in the nation to look at atomic energy. She was once named Reno Woman of the Month by local clothier Joseph Magnin. She represented social studies teachers of Nevada at the Industrial Council sponsored by Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. in 1953. She was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, the American Historical Association, and the Sagebrush chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, as well as the National Civil War Advisory Council, the Lake Tahoe Area Council, and the Reno Executives Club. She served on the Washoe County platform committee of the Republican Party. She was one of the first members of the American Association of Retired Teachers. She was a member and historian of the Nevada Commemorative Stamp Committee.
In her “spare time,” she even was a businesswoman, running the Seven Seas Gift Shop in Reno’s Riverside Hotel from 1933 until 1950. She also used her extensive knowledge of history and antiques to serve as an appraiser of large estates.
In 1952, when there was a movement to change the name of Slide Mountain to Mount Reno, to better the city’s name recognition, she wrote in the local paper a strong historical defense of the Slide moniker, saying it didn’t need more recognition, as it was immortalized by Mark Twain in his book Roughing It.
Her research extended to every institution and county in Nevada, as well as many in California and in the Library of Congress. Her writing appeared in periodicals, too. She wrote a Nevada State Journal column called “Comstock Profiles” and wrote articles for Nevada Magazine. She was often a contributor to the American Dictionary of History.
Her passionate devotion to preserving Nevada’s heritage ended on February 1, 1969, at Washoe Medical Center, when Effie Mona Mack passed away at the age of 80. She is buried in the Masonic Memorial Garden at Mountain View Cemetery in Reno.
Researched by Patti Bernard and written by Kitty Falcone
Sources of Information:
- “Book on Nevada Government Written by 3 Reno Teachers Being Published This Month.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), January 11, 1953, p. 2:5
- “Dr. Effie Mack Chosen to Write History.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), April 8, 1937, p. 2:1.
- “Dr. Effie Mack Granted Leave.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), August 21, 1955, p. 28:2.
- “Dr. Effie Mack Honored For Historical Works.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), February 5, 1966, p. 18:4.
- “Dr. Mack’s Gifts to Scholars.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), February 13, 1969, p. 17:3.
- Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/165917036/effie-mona-mack: accessed April 24, 2019). Memorial page for Dr. Effie Mona Mack (1888-1969), Find a Grave memorial no. 165917036, citing Masonic Memorial Gardens, Reno, Washoe County, Nevada, USA.
- “History of Nevada Written For Use in Schools of State by Dr. Mack and Mrs. Sawyer.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), May 1, 1940, p. 3:1.
- Kuser, Dryden. “The Why of Taxes.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), May 31, 1947, p. 7:6.
- Mack, Effie Mona. “Recollects Documents On Boundary Dispute.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), February 23, 1959, p. 3:1.
- Miss Effie Mack has gone to Berkeley, Cal., to attend summer school.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), June 30, 1918, sec. In the Realm of Society, p. 7:5.
- “New Book Published on Nevada History.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), November 23, 1965, p. 23:2.
- “Newest History of Nevada Placed on Sale Here Today; Written by Dr. Effie Mack.” Reno Evening Gazette, October 22, 1935, p. 8:1.
- “Post in Vegas for Historian.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), July 29, 1954, p. 15:6.f
- “R. H. S. Girls’ Team Will Go To Dayton.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), November 5, 1915, p. 8:6.
- “Reno Historian, Teacher, Writer Dies at 80.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), February 1, 1969, p. 1:7.
- “Reno Teachers Take Training For Atomic Age.” Reno Evening Gazette, February 17, 1950, p. 17:1.
- “Miss Effie Mack who has been principal of Manhattan school this term, will return home.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), April 17, 1910, sec. Society’s Doings in Reno. p. 8:2.
- “Twain In Nevada Told In New Book.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), May 24, 1947, p. 5:1.
- “University Presents Gay Scene in Honor of Departing Graduates.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), May 18, 1916, p. 2:2.
- “Veteran Teacher Retired From School System.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), April 28, 1954, p. 13:6.
- Year: 1900; Census Place: Seneca, Nemaha, Kansas, Page: 16; Enumeration District: 0125; FHL microfilm: 1240492.
- Year: 1910; Census Place: Reno Ward 1, Washoe, Nevada; Roll: T624_859; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0068; FHL microfilm: 1374872.
“Life of Senator Stewart Is Compiled by Instructor In History at Reno School.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), April 23, 1930, p. 2:3.