Jean S. McElrath Papers
Scope and Contents
The Jean S. McElrath Papers consist primarily of McElrath's diaries from 1934-1967. The diaries have been transcribed from the originals by Jean Wagner. The diaries from 1940 to 1950 include photocopies of the covers and one, 1940, has yarn ties simulating the original diary. Letters to her family and from family members (Series 2) make up a small portion of the collection (four folders). The letters have also been transcribed by Jean Wagner. The original diaries and letters are being maintained by the family.
This collection does not include all of Jean's writings. Her two published books, Tumbleweeds and Aged in Sage are part of the monograph collection in the Special Collections Department. Numerous McElrath articles can be found in Nevada publications such as Nevada Highways and Parks (later called Nevada Magazine), the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, and various Nevada newspapers.
- McElrath, Jean S., 1917-1967 (Creator, Person)
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.
Jean Sybil McElrath was born to Mabell Paddock McElrath and Fenton Morrill McElrath on June 8, 1917 in Chloride, Arizona. She moved with her parents to Wells, Nevada, in 1924, where she lived the remainder of her life. She had two sisters and one brother: Anita Cory, Marjorie Klein, and Thomas W. McElrath.
When Jean was in high school she fell from a horse and as a result, developed rheumatoid arthritis by the age of 16. The disease progressed so that by the time she was 19 she was unable to walk and by the age of 33, was blind.
Although confined to bed, Jean wrote extensively, publishing columns and news stories in newspapers in Wells, Elko, western Nevada, and Salt Lake City, Utah. Her sister Anita was an accomplished photographer and provided photos for many of Jean's articles. Using an electric typewriter fitted with Braille caps for the keys, and with the help of Anita, Mabell, and many community friends, Jean was able to maintain contact with the world outside her home and produce a steady stream of articles, including a weekly column, "Tumbleweeds" for the Wells Progress from 1940-1967. Gleanings from her "Tumbleweeds" column were published with the help of Robert Laxalt, director of the University of Nevada Press, in 1964 as the book Aged in Sage. A second book, Tumbleweeds was published posthumously in 1971 by her friends in Wells.
Jean McElrath received many awards for her work. In 1965 she was awarded the Distinguished Nevadan Award by the University of Nevada, Reno. She was active in many organizations, including the Girl Scouts, Nevada Historical Society, Nevada Federation of the Blind, and the National League of American Pen Women.
Jean McElrath died on October 7, 1967.
[Biographical note compiled from information in Esther Early's biographical sketch of Jean S. McElrath, 1997.]
0.75 Linear Feet (2 boxes)
Language of Materials
Jean Sybil McElrath was awarded the Distinguished Nevadan Award by the University of Nevada, Reno. She was active in many organizations, including the Girl Scouts, Nevada Historical Society, Nevada Federation of the Blind, and the National League of American Pen Women. Included are transcripts of McElrath's diaries from 1934-1967 that contain short listings about daily activities, such as sewing, reading , studying and her writing career. Family members and friends' activities and her medical treatments are mentioned.
Arranged into the following series: 1) Diaries; 2) Letters
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Jean Wagner in 2006.
A Part of
Nevada women's archives
- Guide to the Papers of Jean S. McElrath
- Jacquelyn Sundstrand
- April 21, 2010
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description