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Gladys Belknap Rowley Scrapbooks

 Collection
Identifier: 84-26
Rowley's column, "Reno Revue" provides a unique glimpse of Reno as she progressed from a "social columnist" to a commentator on Reno life and values from the late 1930s through 1946. Rowley often included letters sent to her in conjunction with her writing, providing an encapsulated view of the community's reaction, as well as illustrating how many of her subjects came to her. She frequently penciled in the comments, compliments, and critique she received, along with her own thoughts on that correspondence. For many years Rowley's "next door neighbor" in the paper was Brewster Adams' column "Values in the Rough"; their quips often provided an amusing running conversation laced with affectionate respect. Adams' columns with mention of Gladys are inserted in date order with Rowley's.

As Rowley grew as a writer, her work ranged over a wide spectrum of subjects. Her two sons, Fitch "Sonny" Rowley and Richard D. Rowley; her parents, Edwin and Harriet Belknap of New York; and the Rowley pets and activities were frequent subjects, as was her own love for and thoughts about them. Reno culture, social life, visitors, and reputation as "divorce center of the U.S." provided many columns. Perhaps the most valuable from an historian's point of view is her picture of World War II and its effect on life everywhere. Here we see Reno sending off the "home boys" to Camp Hahn, near Riverside, California, and subsequently to their new quarters in a Walt Disney studio in Hollywood. As the Reno boys scattered around the world Rowley's columns kept them in touch with home and in return they communicated their own experiences. Sadly, we also witness the death of her own son Sonny, an 18 year old paratrooper, killed during the invasion of Holland, and her final letter to him. Then, as the war ends, the columns give evidence of the return to normalcy in Reno and Nevada.

Although many of Rowley's themes reflect her era, she wrote a number of articles which seemed to have transcended time and are just as relevant today. The subject of working mothers was one which she could and did speak to personally and often. Other themes she addressed were the condition of both the city and county jails, rude drivers, the behavior of children, and the promotion of Reno. Together, they provide a personal history of Reno unavailable from any other source.

This guide was compiled from notes written by Rowley and an unknown author (possibly a relative because of the personal pronouns used). Occasionally there was no entry for a column; in such cases the subject was provided by Manuscript Curator Susan Searcy by consulting the column itself.

Dates

  • 1938-1956

Creator

Restrictions

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.

Extent

4 Cubic Feet (14 volumes in 13 boxes)

Abstract

Scrapbooks of newspaper clippings of the column "Reno review" from the Nevada state journal; plus correspondence related to the column; columns written by Brewster Adams ("Values in the rough") containing comments directed to Rowley; and comments, compliments, and critique she received about her work. Subjects of the columns generally about Reno, Rowley's family, the home front during World War II, experiences of Reno men in the war, working women, and raising children.

Biographical Note

Gladys Belknap Rowley was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 30, 1900 to Edwin and Harriet Belknap. She came to Reno briefly in 1934 and liked it so much that she returned permanently in 1936 as a single parent with her two small sons, Fitch "Sonny" and Richard D. Rowley.

Rowley began writing from necessity after losing most of her financial support in the Depression. She already had a way with words, so she decided to try journalism, took several correspondence courses in writing, and approached the Reno Evening Journal with her column, "The Reno Revue." The Journal's editor liked her style and hired Gladys to write seven columns a week for a salary of $5.00 per week. Subsequently, she was given a $2.00 raise, then the number of columns per week was reduced to six, five, and finally, once a week.

Rowley soon knew many people in Reno and her columns reflect her wide acquaintances and friendships (she often wrote on the theme of Reno's friendliness). With two children to support and only a small salary from writing, she began to supplement her income by selling advertisements for the paper and by selling insurance. She also earned a real estate license, but according to her son Richard, she hated the field and devoted little time to it, preferring instead to sell insurance. Eventually, she made more from insurance than writing, and with the family fortune revived after World War II, decided to devote herself fulltime to selling. Her last "Reno Review" was written in mid-1946. Rowley died March 1, 1983 in Reno.

Arrangement

Arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Richard Rowley in September 1984..

Creator

Title
A Guide to the Scrapbooks of Gladys Belknap Rowley
Status
completed
Author
Susan Searcy
Date
October 1987
Description rules
dacs

Repository Details

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

Contact:
Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5665
775-682-5724 (Fax)