Alicia Barber

Historian, Time & Place

Alicia Barber, PhD, is a professional historian and award-winning writer whose work focuses on the built environment and cultural history of Nevada and the American West. After earning a doctorate in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003, she moved to Reno, where she taught at the University of Nevada, Reno for the next ten years, and directed the University of Nevada Oral History Program from 2009-2013.

She is the author of the book Reno’s Big Gamble: Image and Reputation in the Biggest Little City as well as multiple articles and chapters for both popular and scholarly publications, and the co-founder and editor of Reno Historical (renohistorical.org), a map-based smart phone app and website that identifies and describes historic sites throughout the city. Founder of the historical consulting firm Stories in Place, Dr. Barber collaborates frequently with government agencies, museums, artists, architects, and community groups on projects ranging from oral histories to historical displays and exhibits. In 2014 she was honored with the Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

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.”

A dated postcard of the Sands Casino at night.
Steve Ellison

Today, some of Reno’s largest hotel casinos are located miles from the city center.  But they were once confined to a much smaller area, as Alicia Barber explains in this episode of “Time & Place.”

Unlike Las Vegas, Reno never had a strip, a part of town made up entirely of casinos. But it did have the “red line,” a virtual border that surrounded a four-block area just south of the railroad tracks. Only casinos inside the line could offer an unlimited number of slot machines and table games.

A black and white image of Reno's original railroad depot in 1868, where some figures stand by three sets of tracks.
Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries

May 9th was a big day for Reno.  It marked the 150th anniversary of the city’s founding back in 1868.  Historian Alicia Barber gives us the scoop on how it all began in this episode of Time & Place.

It’s entirely  possible to stand in the heart of downtown Reno today and not even realize that a railroad runs straight through it. The tracks were lowered below ground in 2006. Until then, waiting at a crossing for a train to pass by was a Reno ritual dating back to the very beginning.

Washoe tribal members Billy Merrill, Maggie Merrill, Minnie George, and one Arm George in a camp at Lake Tahoe, ca. 1910-1920.
Photo courtesy of Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.

Lake Tahoe has been a center of recreation for more than a century. But long before that, it was a home to the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. Historian Alicia Barber explores the tribe’s deep connection to the lake in this episode of Time & Place.

Jerry Fenwick

Baseball season is just around the corner, along with opening day for our local Triple-A team, the Reno Aces. Historian Alicia Barber looks back at our region’s long love affair with baseball in this episode of “Time and Place.”

University of Nevada Oral History Program archive, Special Collections Department, University of Nevada Reno Libraries.

Today, women work at all levels of the legal profession, but that wasn’t the case just a few generations ago. Historian Alicia Barber tells the story of one of Nevada’s pioneering legal figures in this episode of Time & Place.

Photo from the 1972 edition of the University of Nevada, Reno yearbook, Artemisia. / Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.

We close out Black History Month with the story of one of the first Black student organizations at the University of Nevada, Reno. Historian Alicia Barber takes us back to 1971, when a group of students took a stand by sitting down, in this week’s segment of Time & Place.

Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries

There’s nothing quite like the Olympics for bringing the world together—at least in the world of sports. It’s been almost six decades since the Games came to Tahoe, and historian Alicia Barber describes how Reno embraced the moment in this episode of Time & Place.

Squaw Valley beat out a number of other locations to host the 1960 Winter Olympics. One of them was Reno, which had sent in a last-minute bid to the Olympic committee in late 1954, but lost out to the little resort 45 miles up the mountain.

U.S. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Immigration is all over the news these days, but behind the policies and the politics are countless individuals with unique and compelling stories. Historian Alicia Barber shares the story of an early immigrant to Nevada in this segment of Time & Place.

Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.

Air travel is so common these days that it’s easy to focus on the negative, from high fares and luggage fees to cramped seating and annoying delays. Historian Alicia Barber recaptures some of the wonder that accompanied early flight in this segment of Time & Place.

Pages