Barbara Vucanovich Records

Identifier: 96-54

Scope and Contents

The Barbara Vucanovich Records have been divided into ten series based on the functions of the materials. The Appropriations Committee, Subject Files, and Legislative Files series are especially indicative of Vucanovich's interests and activities while in Congress. Those interests included military construction, military land withdrawal, the proposed nuclear storage site at Yucca Mountain, the use of public lands for mining and grazing, health care reform, breast cancer prevention, transportation (including the Union Pacific Railroad buyout of Southern Pacific Railroad), and wilderness area designations.

Between 1983 and 1996 Vucanovich sponsored or cosponsored many pieces of legislation. Series 6, Legislative Files, documents her record and included speeches and comments she made before committees and the full House, summaries of bills she sponsored or cosponsored, and her voting record. This series also includes material on the Republican Party's "Contract With America" and spells out terms of the contracts and their goals.

Also useful in documenting Vucanovich's congressional record is Series 8, Campaign Files. Files in this series include biographical sketches and outlines of her legislative record. Vucanovich commissioned professional polling firms to conduct surveys of voter attitudes in Nevada; the results are included in this series.

Occasionally, files were identified by the names of Vucanovich's staff members. The principal staffers included Michael Pieper (also spelled "Peiper" and "Piper" throughout the files), administrative assistant in Washington, D.C.; Dennis Parobek, legislative director; and Sarah Fowler, scheduler/office manager.


  • 1980-1997


Conditions Governing Access

Use of these papers is no longer restricted except for any "sealed files" which will be made available for research five years after the donor's death. Researchers may make written application to the donor, or in the event of her death, the copyright owner to grant exceptions to this condition. Materials in "sealed files" are closed for a period to be determined by the donor, not to exceed twenty-five years.

Copyright of the Vucanovich papers has been retained by Mrs. Vucanovich. Researchers may make single reference photocopies in lieu of note taking for scholarly purposes but must obtain written permission from the copyright owner before publishing materials from this collection.

After Congresswoman Vucanovich announced her retirement her staff contacted the Special Collections Department regarding the deposition of the Congressman's papers. The Department provided Vucanovich's staff with guidelines for the retention of Congressional papers which they used to determine which papers to keep. Thus, no further weeding of the papers by Special Collections staff was necessary.

Biographical Note

Barbara Farrell Dillon Vucanovich was born in 1921 at Camp Dix, New Jersey. She attended Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart in New York.

Vucanovich moved to Nevada in 1949 to obtain a divorce from her first husband. In Nevada she met and married Reno attorney Kenneth P. Dillon, who died in 1964, leaving her with five children to raise: Patty (who was the first woman elected Treasurer of the State of Nevada), Michael, Ken, Tom, and Susan. In 1965, Barbara married accountant George Vucanovich. She successfully owned and operated two businesses - a travel agency and an Evelyn Wood speed-reading franchise.

Vucanovich, a conservative Republican, became active in Nevada politics soon after her arrival in Reno. She served as president of the Republican Women's Club of Reno and as president of the Nevada Federation of Republican Women's Clubs. Paul Laxalt hired her in 1964 to run the northern Nevada campaign headquarters for his unsuccessful bid for Howard Cannon's seat in the U.S. Senate. She also helped manage Laxalt's successful campaign for Nevada governor in 1966 and for the U.S. Senate in 1974. After Laxalt's election to the Senate, Vucanovich managed his Reno office until her own entry into election politics.

Vucanovich was the first woman elected to a federal office in Nevada. She ran for and won the second Congressional seat when it was created in 1982. She served until her retirement at the end of 1996.

Vucanovich served on the following House committees and subcommittees:

Appropriations Committee: Served on the full committee; Served on the following subcommittees: Interior; Military Construction (chair); and Veterans Administration, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies. Interior Committee (now called Natural Resources Committee): Served on the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee as Ranking Minority Member; Served on the National Parks and Public Lands Subcommittee. Vucanovich was one of five Republicans on the board of the Commission on Presidential Debates, Secretary to the House Republican Conference, Conference secretary to the Republican Policy Committee, and a member of the Executive Committee of the National Republican Congressional Committee. She was also a member of many House caucuses and conferences.

Vucanovich retired in 1996. Replacing her as Representative in Nevada's second Congressional District was Republican Jim Gibbons.


85 Linear Feet (88 boxes, 2 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



Barbara Farrell Dillon Vucanovich served as president of the Republican Women's Club of Reno and as president of the Nevada Federation of Republican Women's Clubs. Vucanovich's records as Representative to the U.S. Congress from Nevada include files related to her committee assignments and interests, particularly military construction and land withdrawal for military use; the proposed nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada; Indian gaming and other Nevada-specific issues; breast cancer; health care reform; and the Republican Party's Contract with America. Also included are her campaign files, 1986-1994, which contain information about her opponent, Reno Mayor Pete Sferrazza, and files related to the 1996 presidential debate and the Commission on Presidential Debates. Material between 1980-1997.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Press Clippings and Releases; 2) Appropriations Committee; 3) Correspondence; 4) Staff Files; 5) Subject Files; 6) Legislative Files; 7) Commission on Presidential Debates; 8) Campaign Files; 9) Administrative Files; 10) Photographs

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Barbara Vucanovich in November and December 1996.

Separated Materials

Photographs transferred to the photo archives section of the Special Collections Department UNRS-P1997-02.

A Part of

Nevada women's archives.

  • Plaque: Third Annual National Tourism Week, 1986 May 18-24 Plaque: Friend of Nevada's Livestock Industry, 1992 Plaque: For Continued Dedicated Support on Behalf of the US Naval Reserve, undated Plaque: Sentinal Award from the Mining Support Group, 1992 Plaque: Dedication to Families of the Military Community from The National Military Family Association, 1995 Plaque: Dedication to Quality of Life for Senior Citizens of Nevada from The Fifteen Nevada Rural Counties Retired Senior Volunteer Program, 1995 June 17 Plaque: In Appreciation of Support of the Sea Services from the Navy League of US, Elko Council, 1993 June 3 Plaque: In Appreciation of Support for Rural Concerns in Nevada from the Northeast Nevada Chapter "People for the West", 1996 February 10 Plaque: Spirit of Enterprise Award from the US Chamber of Commerce, 1988-1989 Plaque: Champion of Public Power Award from the Intermountain Consumer Power Association, 1990 March 21 Plaque: In Appreciation of Continued Support from the Nevada National Guard Association, 1989 February 25 Plaque: In Appreciation of Dedication to the Taxpayers of America from the Citizens Against Government Waster, 1994 March 15 Plaque: Door plaque with "Mrs. Vucanovich" on it. x2
Guide to the Records of Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich
Susan Searcy
January 1997
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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)