Grant Sawyer Papers

Identifier: 97-28

Scope and Contents

The Grant Sawyer Papers includes newspaper clipping files, photographs, certificates, memorabilia, paintings, plaques, diplomas, and three-dimensional objects such as hats, gavels, ground-breaking shovels, and ribbon-cutting scissors.

The portion held by the Special Collections Department consists of materials which had been stored in the Sawyer home in Las Vegas and constitutes only a small part of the Sawyer papers as a whole. The remaining collection remains in the law offices of Lionel Sawyer and Collins.


  • 1939-1993


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

Grant Sawyer was born on December 14, 1918 in Twin Falls, Idaho. He moved with his family as a young child to Fallon, Nevada, where his father Harry W. Sawyer, Sr. was a doctor and state senator from Churchill County. Upon graduation from high school, Sawwyer attended the University of Nevada, Reno, graduating in 1941 with a Bachelor Degree in Philosophy. While at the University, Sawyer was also a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, participated in theater, and was a member of Coffin and Keys. In 1948, after serving in the U. S. Army Infantry during World War II, he received a law degree from George Washington University.

After receiving his law degree, Sawyer became active in Nevada Democratic politics. He was elected Elko County's district attorney in 1950, serving until 1958, and was elected governor of Nevada in 1959, serving until 1967. During his term created the state Equal Rights Commission, pushed for economic development and diversity in the state, and created the Gaming Control Act of 1959 and Nevada Gaming Commission.

After serving as governor, Sawyer formed the law office of Lionel Sawyer & Collins in Las Vegas in 1967. He served as chair or was on the board of directors for many political, charitable, and educational organizations.

Sawyer was married to Bette Norene Hoge Sawyer for fifty years; they had one daughter, Gail.

Grant Sawyer died on February 19, 1996.

The University of Nevada's Oral History Program conducted an oral history of Governor Sawyer Hang Tough!: Grant Sawyer, an Activist in the Governor's Mansion (1993).


9 Cubic Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials



Grant Sawyer (1918-1996) served as the governor of Nevada from 1959-1967 and during his term created the state Equal Rights Commission, pushed for economic development and diversity in the state, and created the Gaming Control Act of 1959 and Nevada Gaming Commission. The collection includes newspaper clippings from Nevada newspapers documenting Sawyer's years as governor; certificates; photographs; paintings; plaques; and artifacts such as campaign hats, ribbon cutting scissors, flags, and small statues.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Clippings File; 2) Other Material

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Bette Sawyer in 1997.

Separated Materials

Photographs transferred to the Special Collection Department's photographic archives as collection number UNRS-P1998-14.


Inventory of the Governor Grant Sawyer Papers
Susan Searcy and Becky Richards
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)