Time & Place

We are shaped in large part by when and where we live, and every combination of locale and era sets the stage for a new story. In this regular segment, professional historian Alicia Barber presents an engaging array of narratives and voices from the past, focusing on the rich and diverse heritage of Northern Nevada and the Eastern Sierra. In the process, she brings historical perspective to our own time and place, shedding light on who we are as a community, how we got here, and where we might be headed.

Alicia Barber, PhD, is an award-winning writer whose work focuses on the built environment and cultural history of Nevada and the American West. Learn more about her here.

Police speak with one of the student members of UNR's Black Student Union in 1971. Photo from the 1972 edition of the University of Nevada, Reno yearbook, Artemisia.
Credit Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.

This fall, there’s been a lot of talk and media coverage about the campus climate at the University of Nevada, Reno in light of several incidents of hate and bias on campus. Those have included graffiti of swastikas and flyers for a white nationalist group.

Today, the cities of Reno and Sparks make up one large metropolitan area. But unlike Reno, Sparks wasn’t known as a destination for gambling until the 1950s. Historian Alicia Barber tells the story of the Sparks casino that changed all of that, in this episode of “Time & Place.”

Courtesy California State University, Chico, Meriam Library Special Collections

Summertime in Northern Nevada can really bring the heat. Fortunately, for most of us, cooling down is as easy as heading to the refrigerator. But it wasn’t always so easy for our region’s residents to chill out in the hot weather, as historian Alicia Barber explains in this episode of “Time & Place.”

Special Collections/UNR

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, a massive undertaking that employed thousands of Chinese immigrants. In this installment of “Time & Place,” historian Alicia Barber explains some of the challenges faced by the Chinese residents of the Sierra Nevada after the railroad was finished.

As a warning, this segment contains historical accounts of physical violence fueled by racism and may not be suitable for children.

Courtesy of the Western Nevada Photo Collection

This month, KUNR is featuring stories about Reno's iconic neon in a series called Sparked: Northern Nevada’s Neon. In this installment of Time & Place, historian Alicia Barber explains how the shifting popularity of neon has been reflected locally in the evolution of Reno’s most celebrated landmark.

Mexican workers in Bracero Program
Courtesy of Neal Cobb.

As neighboring countries, the United States and Mexico have a long history of bilateral agreements. In this installment of “Time & Place,” historian Alicia Barber looks at one cooperative program introduced during World War II to benefit residents on both sides of the border.

Workers pick up rocks near Fallon, Nevada.
Courtesy of Armando DeCarlo.

In the 1930's, the effects of the Great Depression reached nearly every community in the United States. In this segment of Time & Place, Historian Alicia Barber describes one federal relief program that helped rebuild Nevada while putting thousands of Americans back on their feet.

A black and white image of four showgirls on a stage.
Courtesy of Barbara Davis.

Decades before Nevada was known for its casinos, it was world famous for offering quick divorces. In this segment of Time & Place, historian Alicia Barber explains how the process worked for those who traveled to the Silver State to end their marriages.

A black and white photo of Frank Sinatra between two other women.
Courtesy Special Collections Department, UNR Libraries

Nevada’s casino industry is one of the most tightly regulated in the world, but it takes a lot of legislation and enforcement to keep it that way. In this segment of Time & Place, historian Alicia Barber describes one of the earliest challenges to the state’s strict gaming laws.

A black and white image of a hospital room with a nurse and a row of beds.
Courtesy U.S. Library of Congress

Every autumn, we brace ourselves for the onset of another flu season. In this segment of Time & Place, historian Alicia Barber takes us back one hundred years, when one of the biggest influenza pandemics in history had western Nevada in its grip.

men shaking hands
Courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno.

If you have the feeling that election season is getting longer and longer, you’re not wrong. Even on the state level, political candidates often announce their intentions at least a year before Election Day. In this installment of “Time & Place”, historian Alicia Barber takes us back to a time when running for office required much smaller investments of time—and money.

Parade, music, crowd, Nevada
Nevada Historical Society

Nevada is one of only a handful of states to commemorate its statehood with an official holiday. Historian Alicia Barber explores the event at the heart of the annual celebration--the popular Nevada Day parade--in this segment of “Time & Place.”

A black and white image of a cellar, with hunks of meat hanging from the ceiling and a table with stacks of cheese.
Nevada Historical Society

The farm-to-table movement has been gaining in popularity, with restaurants throughout Northwestern Nevada promoting their locally sourced meats, produce, and other ingredients. In this segment of Time & Place, historian Alicia Barber takes us back to our region’s agricultural roots, when eating farm-to-table was just a part of everyday life.

Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.

The property surrounding Lake Tahoe is some of the most sought-after real estate in the region, but how that property is used has changed dramatically over time. Historian Alicia Barber tells the story of one family’s longtime association with Lake Tahoe in this segment of Time & Place.

Courtesy of the Nevada State Museum, Carson City.

Every school strives to give its students an education, but many have additional goals beyond just academics. In this segment of “Time & Place,” historian Alicia Barber discusses one type of government-run Nevada school created not just to give its students something, but also to take something away. 

Photo courtesy of UNLV Libraries Special Collections & Archives, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The great American road trip is a cultural institution, with cars full of travelers touring the country every summer. But for some, it’s the car itself that’s the main attraction. Historian Alicia Barber explains in this segment of “Time & Place.” 

A black and white photo of a man sitting at a desk turned to his left, shaking the hand of a man standing. Seven other people stand behind the two men shaking hands, all formally dressed.
Courtesy of Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno

The federal Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, but for years before that, activists across the country were campaigning for equal rights in their own communities. Historian Alicia Barber takes us back to one important Reno campaign in this episode of “Time & Place.”

Reno's Chinatown

Jul 5, 2018
A black and white photo from 1900 in Reno's Chinatown.
Courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society

When someone mentions Chinatown, the cities of San Francisco, New York, or Los Angeles might come to mind, but Chinatowns were once common throughout the American West. Historian Alicia Barber takes a closer look at one of them in this episode of Time & Place.

Summers at Deer Park

Jun 21, 2018
A black and white photo of several people jumping into a pool in Reno.
Courtesy of Sparks Museum & Cultural Center

Summer is a busy time for city parks, especially those with swimming pools. Historian Alicia Barber tells the story of one area favorite in this episode of “Time & Place.”

A black and white family photo
Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries

These days, women run for every level of political office, from local to national races. But in the 1970s, the public was still getting used to female candidates. Historian Alicia Barber takes us behind the scenes of one Nevada woman’s political campaign in this episode of “Time & Place.”

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