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.

Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.

The casinos in the Reno-Tahoe area have long offered much more than just gambling, but the world of casino entertainment has changed quite a bit through the years. Historian Alicia Barber shines a spotlight on the golden era of casino showrooms in this episode of Time & Place.

Reno’s casinos started opening their own elegant nightclubs and dinner showrooms in the 1940s, and by the fifties, they were in fierce competition to book big-name entertainers to headline them, often for a week or two at a time. Lounge and opening acts could stay on even longer.

Photo by the Nevada Photo Service, James R. Herz Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.

Anyone who frequently drives along Interstate 80 across the Sierra has probably experienced travel delays due to heavy traffic or snow. Historian Alicia Barber looks back at early efforts to make the journey smoother in this segment of Time & Place.

Photo by the First U.S. Army Signal Corps from the U.S. Library of Congress.

The 76th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is this week. The events of that shocking day, when 2,400 Americans were killed, and more than a thousand were wounded, can seem pretty distant.  Historian Alicia Barber brings it home with the story of a Nevada native who witnessed it first hand in this episode of "Time and Place."

Photo by Jimmie Smith courtesy of Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries

Ski season is officially underway in Reno-Tahoe. And as the ski resorts start opening for business, it’s easy to take for granted everything that went into creating them. Historian Alicia Barber looks back at the early days of the area’s ski industry in this episode of “Time and Place.”

Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.

For Veterans Day, we honor the men and women who have served in the armed forces.  In this segment of Time and Place, historian Alicia Barber tells the story of one group of veterans whose military service went largely unrecognized for decades.

There were just over a thousand of them total—a highly-trained fleet of female aviators known as the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs.  Hired by the U.S. Army Air Forces at the height of World War Two, the WASPs took on stateside flight duties for the military in order to free up male pilots for combat.

Photo by Catherine Magee.

The American West has long been a crossroads for immigrants from across the globe. Historian Alicia Barber highlights one of these cultures in this segment of Time and Place.

Washoe County

The Truckee Meadows is known today for its two major cities of Reno and Sparks. But the valley was once home to a number of small, though vibrant, population centers with their own stories and a few visible reminders. Historian Alicia Barber describes one of them in this segment of Time and Place.

University of Nevada, Reno Special Collections.

These days, many look to electric cars and buses as the future of transportation. But using electricity to power vehicles isn’t entirely new. In fact, Reno was on the cutting edge of electric transit more than a century ago. Historian Alicia Barber explains in this segment of Time and Place.

University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries

Title IX is in the national spotlight right now  because of a proposal by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to roll back policy enforcement related to how sexual assault and harassment are investigated.

Outside of those complex issues, Title IX also impacts the amount of resources provided to women's athletics because it prohibits sex discrimination in education.

Mella Harmon

Today, the stand-alone wedding chapel is an iconic feature of the Nevada landscape. But the state was easing the path to matrimony long before you could hire Elvis to serenade you through your wedding vows. We join professional historian Alicia Barber for this segment of Time & Place.

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