John Reid

Thomas R. Street

Thomas R. Street (unknown-1873) was an African American resident of Nevada during the Comstock era. Although little is known about Street, his major legacy is the articulate and passionate speech he delivered in Virginia City. He made his presentation during the Emancipation Proclamation anniversary celebration on January 1, 1864, while the Civil War still raged.

Thomas Detter

Though not well known among Nevadans of European descent during his lifetime, and largely forgotten by historians until the 1970s, Thomas Detter was a prominent member of western African-American society. He wrote numerous letters to California's African-American newspapers, and he was asked to give speeches in a variety of locales. Most of the residents of Elko and Eureka, Nevada, though, would know him as a prominent African-American businessman—a barber and proprietor of barber shops and "bathing establishments.

School Segregation in Nineteenth-Century Nevada

One of the most contentious issues for authors of the Nevada State Constitution involved the education of racial minorities. In these debates, lawmakers grappled with the problem of a multi-racial population in a post-slavery society. Initially, they decided not to include minorities, principally African Americans and Chinese, in a universal compulsory education system. A Nevada Supreme Court decision in 1872, however, ended this exclusion and opened Nevada's public education system to racial minorities.

Peter Ranne of the Jedediah Strong Smith Party

Peter Ranne was the first known man of African descent to enter the boundaries of the modern state of Nevada. As a member of Jedediah Smith's traveling party, Ranne took part in the Smith party's 1826-27 trailblazing journey through the region that would become Nevada.

Lincoln Union Club

The Lincoln Union Club served as an organizational body for Virginia City’s African American residents during the peak of the Comstock era. Its mission and activities reflect both the remarkable optimism and confidence of African Americans in Northern Nevada during the 1870s.

W.H.C. Stephenson

Dr. W. H. C. Stephenson (1825–18??) was northern Nevada's most prominent African-American citizen in the nineteenth century. One of Virginia City's few African-American professionals, Stephenson served as the unofficial spokesperson for northern Nevada's African-American community in the 1860s and was involved in numerous efforts to improve conditions for African-Americans in Nevada.

Jacob Dodson

Jacob Dodson was an African-American member of John C. Fremont's group of explorers who traversed Nevada in the mid-1840s. As such, he is, with Peter Ranne, one of the first known persons of African descent to enter the territory now known as Nevada.

Good Time Coming?: Black Nevadans in the Nineteenth Century

In 1975, Elmer Rusco (1928-2004) published Good Time Coming?: Black Nevadans in the Nineteenth Century (Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1975). To date, this remains the most complete and significant scholarly work on the history of 19th century African Americans in Nevada.

Elmer Rusco

Elmer Rusco sought to serve the people of Northern Nevada through both scholarship and community activism. As a scholar, he created a foundational body of work on the historical experience of ethnic minorities in Nevada. As an activist, he devoted himself to a number of social justice causes and organizations, including the Nevada branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization he led through much of the 1970s.

Elko Republican Club

The Elko Republican Club was an African American "literary and political" organization established by members of Elko's African American population in 1870s. As such, it reflects a sense of unity and optimism among members of this community.


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