Lewis Hahn Papers

Identifier: 2006-16

Scope and Contents

The Lewis Hahn Papers consists almost exclusively of correspondence to and from Hahn from individuals involved in mining in both Wonder and Goldfield, Nevada. Two of these men, Dane Greer and Roy Collom, were fellow miners and exceptionally good friends to Hahn. In their letters, they often fondly recall memories of their time spent in Wonder. Hahn also writes often about Edith, a woman whom he intended to marry if he was able to.

Also of interest in the collection is a short autobiographical sketch of Hahn reflecting on his time in Wonder; an advertising booklet from the Syndicate-Alliance Trading Company, Inc.; and one issue of The Wonder Miner newspaper from 1907.

Please note that outside of the advertising booklet, this collection does not include information about Hahn’s later years in New York or his tenure on the National Retail Dry Good Association.


  • 1905-circa 1940
  • Majority of material found within 1906-1913


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

Wonder, Nevada, located approximately 50 miles east of Fallon, was established in 1906 after the discovery of a rich quartz vein in a dry wash north of Chalk Mountain. Lewis “Lew” Hahn ( -1956) came to the town in the early days of the boom. He, among hundreds of other men, came to Wonder in search of riches in order to improve their financial condition. Hahn, in describing Wonder, calls it both a “Utopia” and “Valley of Despair.”

Hahn, originally from New Jersey, founded the Lew Hahn & Co. Mining Investments company and, by 1908, staked 5 claims in the hopes of striking it big. Hahn left Nevada around 1910 for New York. From 1918-1928 and again in 1937, he served as the managing director of the National Retail Dry Good Association. Beginning in 1928, Hahn managed Hahn Department Stores, which eventually became the Allied Department Stores. By the early 1940s, Syndicate-Alliance Trading Company, Inc., a mercantile wholesaler based out of New York City, had replaced Allied Department Stores; Hahn served as president of the company.

Deeply involved in the mercantile business during the 1920s and into the Great Depression, Hahn, along with others in the mercantile/retail world were concerned about holiday sales. 1939 was a particularly worrisome year as Thanksgiving, at that time traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday of the month, fell in the fifth week of November which left a shorter shopping period before Christmas. President Roosevelt, hearing the concerns from this sector and upon the suggestion of Hahn, elected to move Thanksgiving that year to earlier in November in the hope of allowing more time for holiday shopping. Unfortunately for retailers, moving Thanksgiving that year did nothing to boost sales.


0.25 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Lewis "Lew" Hahn was an early Wonder, Nevada miner who, after leaving the state, became the manager and owner of a number of New York City mercantile companies. This collection contains correspondence, dated 1906-1913, to and from Hahn during his Wonder, Nevada mining days as well as reminiscences of his time there. Also included is an advertising booklet for Syndicate-Alliance Trading Co., Inc. from the 1940s.


Arranged by type of material and chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Vigilante Rare Documents in April 2006.

Separated Materials

Photographs transferred to the Special Collections Department photo archive as collection number UNRS-P2007-12.


Guide to the Lewis Hahn Papers
Jessica Maddox
December 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)