American Federation of Musicians. Local No. 368, Reno, Nevada Records

Identifier: 91-37

Scope and Contents

The collection is relatively complete for the period 1960-1984, and well represented from a financial aspect for the years 1930-1960. All activities of the Union can be documented through the minutes, alphabetical files, stewards' reports, grievances, and collective bargaining series. Not only do these records chronicle one facet of organized labor in Reno but they also pull together in one location, documentation about the entertainment industry in Reno, particularly in casinos, through the stewards' reports and collective bargaining series.

The arrangement of this collection follows the original order as created by the Union. One of the largest series, the Alphabetical Files, contains both correspondence and subject files which would normally be divided into separate series. Correspondence is located in several sections within the alphabetical files; some may be found under "Correspondence" and some under the name of the sender, such as "AFM-Correspondence" or "President's Files-Correspondence." The content of the correspondence files is both local and national in scope, as the Local often referred issues and conflicts to the parent body for resolution or clarification. Other correspondence between the Local and individual member's deals with day-to-day operations, rules, regulations, and other details of Union membership.

These records provide evidence of the evolution of casinos in Reno, Nevada, and, in particular, the type of entertainment they offered to visitors. In general, the trend was a change from many casinos offering their visitors "big name" entertainment, to only a few operating such venues. This change in the entertainment industry had repercussions on the local economy, professional musicians, and the Musicians' Union as well. Casinos with showrooms hired "house bands" to provide the accompaniment for their headliners; as showrooms closed and casinos economized, fewer positions were available to union members and less income accrued to the Union from work dues.

One of the most important topics featured in this collection is that of the role of trade unions in Reno. The labor movement in Reno has a spotty history; strong in the years prior to the Great Depression of the 1930s and weaker since then. Nevada's status as a "right to work" state complicates the Union's goal to make the Reno entertainment industry a "union shop." Collective bargaining issues in this collection clearly illustrate those goals, as the casino industry tried numerous times to weaken the Union by refusing to bargain collectively, or by asserting that the Union could not legally represent musicians. Both the Alphabetical Files, Series 2, and Collective Bargaining Agreements, Series 3, provide illustrations for these trends.


  • 1909-1984
  • Majority of material found within 1930-1984


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.

Administrative History

A musicians' union has existed in Reno, Nevada, since 1909. The American Federation of Musicians (AFM), Reno Local No. 368, was chartered January 1, 1917 as the Reno Musicians' Protective Union Local No. 368. The Union formally incorporated in Nevada on June 30, 1950 as the Reno Musicians' Union. The Union has also been known as the Reno Musicians' Protective Union Local No. 368 and the Reno Musicians Association; all of these names were used throughout the records. Local 368's jurisdiction includes Reno, Sparks, Carson City, and Lake Tahoe.

The purpose of forming a union was to unite musicians of Reno and the vicinity for better protection of their interests, to regulate wages and all business connected with the musical profession, and to enforce good faith and fair dealing between its members. Membership was open to all instrumental performers who had been residents of the area for at least 30 days (later changed to 90 days) and who were approved by the Board of Directors. Honorary membership could be awarded to eminent composers or instrumentalists, or any other non-professional who had distinguished himself to the benefit of the Union or musical profession.

The Union was under the leadership of its officers: president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer (later combined into the secretary-treasurer), three trustees, an eight-member Board of Directors, and a sergeant at arms. Based on information found in the collection it appears that the secretary-treasurer was a full-time position and carried out the everyday activities of the Union.

Prior to 1950, the Union met at the Labor Temple at 440 N. Virginia Street, Reno. Union members voted in June of 1950 to buy the buildings and property at 120 W. Taylor Street. The current union hall was built in 1962-63 at 124 W. Taylor Street. Over the years the building was shared by the Musicians Union, the Reno Musicians Federal Credit Union, and presently, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union Local 86.

Union members twice organized a credit union for members; the first was prior to 1964; the second existed from 1964-1973. A more complete history of the Credit Union can be found in the section of this guide which describes Series 5, Reno Musicians' Federal Credit Union. Throughout its history, the Union has taken very seriously its constitutional charge of securing and providing for improved wages, hours, working conditions, and other economic advantages. It has been able to do so through its organization, rules, regulations, negotiations, binding arbitration, collective bargaining, and threat of strike.


42 Cubic Feet (37 boxes)

Language of Materials



Included are minutes, correspondence, subject files, bylaws, stewards' reports, grievance files, union/casino collective bargaining documentation, subject files, financial records, and administrative records of the Reno Musicians' Federal Credit Union.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Minutes; 2) Alphabetical Files; 3) Collective Bargaining Agreements; 4) Grievances; 5) Reno Musicians' Federal Credit Union Administrative Files; 6) Stewards' Reports; 7) Financial Records

Immediate Source of Acquisition

donated by American Federation of Musicians, Reno Local No. 368 were donated in 1991.

Separated Materials

Photographs have been transferred to the Special Collections Department photo archive as collection number UNRS-P1991-46

Guide to the Records of The American Federation of Musicians, Reno Local No. 368
Susan Searcy
July 1991
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)