Milton Badt: Oral History

Milton B. Badt, Associate Justice of the Nevada State Supreme Court, was a member of a pioneer Nevada family. His father, Morris Badt, was one of the state’s early merchants, arriving in Elko County in 1868. At Wells, in Elko County the elder Badt founded a mercantile business that expanded to include banking facilities for the people of the surrounding area. The family also engaged in cattle ranching.

The future judge was born in 1884, one of a family of eight children. He received his education in Nevada and California Schools. The young Badt was just completing his college work at the University of California at the time of the San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906. After his graduation from Hastings Law School, Milton Badt began his life’s work in Nevada. He practiced law in Elko County, becoming involved in a number of interesting irrigation, mining, livestock, and Indian claims cases. He became a district judge in Elko County in 1947. The same year, a vacancy opened on the State Supreme Court, and Badt was appointed to the higher tribunal.

The oral history recorded by Mr. Badt includes biographical material about his father, with extracts from Morris Badt’s diary during the notorious hard winter of 1889-1890; reminiscences about his education, and observations on education practices; a description of the San Francisco earthquake and fire; discussions of some of the outstanding legal cases upon which he worked; material concerning practices of the State Supreme Court; and a philosophical summary.

Milton Badt was chosen to be interviewed for the Oral History Project of the Center for Western North American Studies because of his and his family’s interesting background of business, ranching and legal work. There were two recording sessions, May 13, and July 12, 1965, both in the Justice’s office in the Nevada State Supreme Court Building in Carson City. Mr. Badt accepted the invitation to record his memoirs graciously, and was a cooperative interviewee. He was unfortunately unable to review his oral history before he passed away in April, 1966.

The Oral History Project of the Center for Western North American Studies attempts to preserve the past and the present for future research by recording memoirs of persons who have played important roles in the development of Nevada and the West. Some other oral histories in process concurrently with Mr. Badt’s included an educational reminiscence by Earl Wooster, Nevada teacher and administrator for over forty years; a social and political autobiography by Thomas W. Miller, nationally known Republican political figure; a social and economic memoir by Lester J. Hilp, Reno businessman; a political, economic and social discussion by Charles H. Russell, former Governor and Congressman from Nevada; and a social, educational and economic history by Silas S. Ross, former University of Nevada Regent.

Interviewee: Milton Badt
Interviewed: 1965
Published: 1965
Interviewer: Mary Ellen Glass
UNOHP Catalog #001

This introduction is reprinted with permission from the University of Nevada Oral History Archive, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno. The full oral history transcript was created for the Nevada Legal Oral History Project. Click here for the full oral history transcript.

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