Clel Georgetta Papers

Identifier: 99-42

Scope and Contents

The papers were divided into twenty-four series but the bulk of the collection consists of the writings of Georgetta, including his diaries, speeches, stories, articles, and book manuscripts. The diaries in particular are rich in content, documenting not only Clel's activities from 1924 until his death, but events in Nevada and the U.S. These diaries were transcribed from Clel's original manuscript sheets into bound typescripts. Each volume consists of one year. Volumes 1-8 (from age 15 until the summer before his enrollment at the University of Nevada) are not part of this collection and according to Roberta Jahnke, his secretary and estate trustee, were not transcribed at Georgetta's request. They are part of the manuscript collections of the Nevada Historical Society.

A brief listing of the topics covered in the diaries includes student life at the University of Nevada, University of Wisconsin, and University of Washington; ranching; sheep ranching; lawyers and the practice of law in Nevada; the Nevada divorce industry (including his own divorce); water and property rights; medical practices of Christian Scientists; the life of Rose Grant Georgetta; the Reno entertainment industry; Clel's attitudes toward minorities and women; Clel's travel experiences around the world; thoughts about his parents, wife, and daughter; and many more. Georgetta may not have initially intended the diaries for public viewing but by the 1920s he seemed to have developed a consciousness that the diaries might someday be published. He exercised some discretion in his discussions but his attitudes and personal opinions about women and minorities, often derogatory, were frankly expressed.

An additional source of information about these topics is the collection of scrapbooks compiled by Georgetta, beginning with his year at the University of Nevada. Consisting of bound volumes, these clippings and some letters provide a snapshot view of Nevada and Clel's own personal interests.

Georgetta traveled extensively in the 1960s and 1970s, including two trips around the world and to various countries in South America, Scandinavia, and northern Europe; Hawaii; Taiwan; and Russia. He had separate transcripts of his travel accounts prepared by Mrs. Jahnke and bound in individual binders. Clel also compiled a partial index to his diaries, specifying "pages of interest" and where they were located.

There is very little material created by Georgetta's parents in this collection; however, there is one folder of autobiographical sketches composed by his mother, Rose Grant Georgetta which discusses her early life, provides background information on her parents, and examines Clel's early life experiences.

The collection contains little correspondence or other personal papers of Clel or his parents. Several diary entries in the early 1970s describe Georgetta's systematic effort to clean out and destroy all such personal material, including photographs and letters.

Seldom does one manuscript collection contain so much information about the life of an individual. Not only is this a rich source of biographical data about Georgetta, a person of significance in Nevada history, it also provides important information about other Nevada topics: ranching, the attitude of ranchers toward the federal government, politics, the urban development movement in Reno, the practice of law in northern Nevada, legislative history of the 1930s, and student life at the University of Nevada and at the Universities of Wisconsin and Washington. Georgetta hoped to memorialize himself but inadvertently has given us far more than the biography of a Nevada man.


  • 1916-1979


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

Clel Evan Georgetta was the only child of Rose Grant and David Georgetta. He was born in Salt Lake City on April 20, 1901, but grew up on his father's ranch near Cherry Creek, White Pine County, Nevada, returning to work there during summers between college years. David was one of the original surveyors and builders of the Lincoln Highway in eastern Nevada; he died at age 89. Clel's mother, Rose, was a follower of the Christian Science religion; she died at about age 84. Their last years were spent in Reno in an apartment provided by son Clel.

David began buying land in Deep Creek Valley on the Nevada-Utah state line in about 1904; this property, the Eight Mile Ranch, formed the nucleus of what would become the Triune Ranch, which was further developed by Clel.

Clel was educated in Salt Lake City because his mother wished him to have a good education. After high school graduation, Clel took over the operation of his father's sheep ranch and worked there for four years until he earned enough money to attend college. He continued to work on the ranch during summers, expanding the operation in ten years from 400 acres to more than 7,000 acres. He sold all of the Triune Ranch (except for the top of Mt. Cherry Peak) for $100,000 in 1940 to the U.S. government who used it to enlarge the Goshute Indian Reservation.

Clel attended the University of Nevada, Reno from 1920-1921; the University of Wisconsin from 1921-1922; and the University of Washington, where he graduated with a law degree. He returned to eastern Nevada and ran for the state Assembly in 1930, serving as White Pine County's Assemblyman for two terms. A life-long Republican and member of the Nevada Republican State Central Committee from 1935-1942, he was instrumental in passing the six-week divorce residency requirement and authored laws on range and water rights.

Georgetta began his Ely law practice in 1932 to supplement his ranch income. He moved the law practice to Reno in 1933 where he specialized in mining, land and water rights, range trespass, domestic relations, estates, and commercial contracts. Clel stated that in thirty-four years as an attorney, he lost only eleven cases. He was elected District Court judge for one term, serving from 1959-1963.

On July 25, 1937, Clel married Ruth Bedford of Boston; they had one daughter, Caryl, born November 14, 1939. Clel and Ruth were divorced after five years, and Ruth and Caryl moved to the eastern part of the U.S. where Ruth remarried.

Georgetta entered the U.S. Army in 1942 and was commissioned a captain. He served as a judge advocate during World War II and was a lieutenant colonel when he left the Army in 1946.

After the War, Clel returned to Reno where he built a commercial building on the southwest corner of State and Center Streets. His law practice was headquartered there, and he leased other offices for income. He resided on Gordon St. and in later years spent much of the winter near Palm Springs, California.

Clel always had an interest in writing. During his high school years, he began a diary which he continued until his death. He furthered his writing skills with English classes at the University of Nevada in the 1960s and authored many books, short stories and articles, some of which were published: Golden Fleece in Nevada; Wool, Beef and Gold: Sheep, Cattle and Mining Stories of the West; Japan as Seen by an American; and Kelley of the Triune: Biography of a Sheep Dog.

In his later years, Georgetta spent winters at a home in the Palm Springs area of southern California. It was there that he died of cancer on April 20, 1979.


26.3 Linear Feet (26 boxes)

Language of Materials



Clel Evan Georgetta (1901-1979) was White Pine County's Assemblyman for two terms and a member of the Nevada Republican State Central Committee (1935-1942). He was instrumental in passing the six-week divorce residency requirement and authored laws on range and water rights. The collection includes typescripts of Georgetta's fiction and non-fiction manuscripts, both published and unpublished, much of it based on Nevada themes, characters, and locales; personal diaries letters to daughter Caryl Georgetta; political and other speeches; short stories, articles, and book manuscripts; and scrapbooks of clippings. Topics include the Nevada sheep industry, Georgetta's Triune ranch, his law practice and clients, local and state politics, attitudes toward women and minorities, and student life at the Universities of Nevada (including Lincoln Hall), Wisconsin, and Washington.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Five Sons Manuscript; 2) Random's Empire Manuscript; 3) Pavement, Neon and Mink Manuscript; 4) Kelley of the Triune Manuscript; 5) Golden Fleece of Nevada Manuscript; 6) Wool, Beef and Gold Manuscript; 7) Miscellaneous Short Articles; 8) Miscellaneous Speeches; 9) Letters to Caryl Georgetta and Family; 10) Miscellaneous Letters; 11) Taped Conversations from Caryl Georgetta to Clel Georgetta; 12) Short Stories Manuscripts; 13) School Themes and Early Literary Efforts; 14) Articles and Stories; 15) The High Tariff on Putty Manuscript; 16) Campaign Speeches by Georgetta, District Judge #3; 17) Political Speeches by Georgetta; 18) This and That From Here and There Travel Diaries; 19) Life and Times of Clel Georgetta Pictorial Biography; 20) Diaries and "Pages of Interest" Index; 21) Specs and Contracts, Georgetta Office Building, State and Center Streets; 22) Rose Grant Georgetta Autobiographical Sketches; 23) The Star of Happiness Sheet Music; 24) Scrapbooks

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Georgetta Trust in November 1999.

Separated Materials

Photographs transferred to the Special Collections Department photo archive as collection number UNRS-P2003-09.

Guide to the Clel Georgetta Papers
Susan Searcy
January 2000
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)