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Virginia Cain Papers

Identifier: 97-21
The papers of Virginia Cain were donated to the Special Collections Department in 1997 by Mrs. Cain. The collection consists of three cubic feet of materials dating from 1980 to 1996. There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

The collection consists almost entirely of materials related to Virginia's involvement with the Democratic Party, especially at the state and national levels. The collection is divided into six series: the Democratic Party of Washoe and other Nevada Counties, the Nevada State Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, other political materials, other organizations, and miscellaneous.

Materials in Series 1, the Democratic Party of Washoe and Other Counties consists mostly of documents related to conventions and the Washoe County platform.

Series 2, the Nevada State Democratic Party, is the largest of this collection. It corresponds to the period in which Virginia was most active at the highest party levels and much of the material originated with her. Virginia served two terms as First Vice-Chair of the State Party, 1980-1982 and 1990-1992, and as Chair from 1994-1995. As Chair she inherited many problems of the state party, including accumulated debts, no paid staff, no office equipment, and a need for restructuring and reorganization. Numerous materials in this series document the Party's problems and Cain's efforts to resolve those issues. Additionally, there is information about the state conventions party platforms, and delegates.

Cain was also very active in the Democratic National Committee and several subcommittees, including the Democratic Leadership Council, Women's Democratic Caucus, Association of State Democratic Chairs, Western District Caucus, and National Democratic Women's Network. In addition, Cain was a delegate to several national conventions. Materials related directly to Cain's involvement or to Nevada have been retained; campaign materials or papers related to general party business have been discarded.

The remaining series are very small. Series 4, Other Political materials, document political campaigns for local or state offices or special events. Series 5, Other Organizations, consists of programs or brochures for community groups.


  • 1980-1996



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.


3 Cubic Feet (3 boxes)


This collection relates almost entirely to Mrs. Cain's involvement with the Democratic Party at the local, state, and national level. Included are administration and convention materials for the Democratic Party of Washoe County, the Nevada State Democratic Party, Democratic National Committee, and the Democratic Women's Club of Carson City and campaign materials for the election of Cain's daughter, Mary-Ellen McMullen, to the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada and for Justice Bob Rose's campaign for the Nevada Supreme Court.

Biographical Note

Virginia Cain was born in Brooklyn, New York. She received her B. A. from New York University and an M. Ed. from the University of Delaware. She also did graduate work in guidance and counseling at the University of Nevada, Reno. Cain moved to Reno in 1964. She is married to Edmund Joseph Cain, Dean Emeritus of the College of Education, University of Nevada, Reno. They have three children and six grandchildren.

Virginia has been a teacher and an employment and personnel counselor. From 1974 to her retirement, she was project director of the Child Support Enforcement Judicial Education Project and former curriculum director of the National College of Juvenile Justice.

Cain's active role in the Democratic Party dates back to the early 1960s when she worked for the presidential campaigns of Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy. In 1966 she became a member of the Washoe County Central Committee. She has held many positions at the county, state, and national levels, including Chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party, Treasurer of the Executive Board of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, and member of the Democratic National Committee. She was a delegate to the 1972, 1980, 1992, and 1996 Democratic National Conventions.

In addition to working with the Democratic Party, Virginia was a founding member of the Anne Martin Political Caucus and the National Women's Political Caucus. She was chair of the northern section of Nevadans for ERA, Inc., and a state board member of the League of Women Voters of Nevada. She served on the Washoe County Community Support and Development Advisory Board, the Governor's Advisory Committee on Youth, the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, and a number of other commissions and boards. She has been the recipient of many awards recognizing her contributions to Nevada and to the Democratic Party.


The Virginia Cain Papers are divided into the following series:

Series 1: Democratic Party of Washoe and Carson County

Series 1, Subseries 1: Washoe County

Series 1, Subseries 2: Carson County

Series 2: Nevada State Democratic Party

Series 2, Subseries 1: Chairman Virginia Cain

Series 2, Subseries 2: General Administration

Series 2, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 1: Bylaws and Legal

Series 2, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 2: Financial

Series 2, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 3: Committees and Members

Series 2, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 4: Meetings

Series 2, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 5: Delegate selection, Platforms

Series 2, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 6: Correspondence

Series 2, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 7: Party Problems and Reorganization

Series 2, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 8: Clippings

Series 2, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 9: Miscellaneous

Series 2, Subseries 3: Conventions

Series 3: Democratic National Committee

Series 3, Subseries 1: Conventions

Series 3, Subseries 2: Organizational Structure and Administration

Series 3, Subseries 3: Democratic Leadership Council

Series 3, Subseries 4: Women's Democratic Caucus

Series 3, Subseries 5: Association of State Democratic Chairs

Series 3, Subseries 6: Western District Caucus of the DNC

Series 3, Subseries 7: National Democratic Women's Network

Series 4: Other Political

Series 5: Other Organizations

Series 6: Miscellaneous



A Guide to the Papers of Virginia Cain
Susan Searcy
September 1997
Description rules

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)