Joseph F. McDonald Papers

Identifier: NC429

Scope and Contents

The Joseph F. McDonald Sr. Papers contains a variety of materials created and collected by McDonald. The collection has been divided into four major series and into subseries within the series. The first series includes personal and family papers as well as material generated as a result of McDonald's involvement in civic organizations and his service on boards and commissions. Series 2 contains material relating to Reno newspapers, Series 3 concerns Lake Tahoe, and Series 4 contains correspondence.

Joseph McDonald maintained files on a wide variety of subjects and in many cases those files, including correspondence, have been kept intact. He also collected and saved a large assortment of printed material and, being a newspaperman, quantities of newspaper clippings. A representative portion of these have been retained.


  • 1870-1980


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

Joseph F. McDonald was born on August 4, 1891 in Denver, Colorado. He and his mother moved to Goldfield, Nevada in 1906 and then to Rawhide, Nevada in 1908. That same year, Joe McDonald enrolled in the University of Nevada High School in Reno and, soon after, entered the University as a freshman. After graduation in 1915, he started his career with the Reno newspapers. Beginning as a reporter for the Reno Evening Gazette, he worked for both Reno newspapers and in 1939 became editor of the Nevada State Journal and later, publisher. He retired in 1956 as president of Reno Newspapers Incorporated. During that year, he received an honorary Doctorate of Journalism from the University of Nevada.

Following retirement, Joe McDonald was asked by the Fleischmann Foundation to head an organization which would guide development at Lake Tahoe. As president of the Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association, he initiated the first planning efforts at the lake.

Throughout his active life, Joseph McDonald served on numerous boards and commissions and participated in a variety of organizations and community projects. He was an enthusiastic Democrat and counted many well-known state and national Democratic political figures among his friends.

Joseph McDonald died on March 24, 1971.

An oral history, completed in January 1971 for the University of Nevada, may be consulted for further biographical information.


21.667 Linear Feet (23 boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



Joseph F. McDonald (1891-1971) was a Nevada newspaperman, editor and publisher of the Nevada State Journal, 1939-1956; president of Reno Newspapers Incorporated; and president of the Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association. The collection contains personal papers, 1911-1970; material related to Reno newspapers, 1928-1963; and records and related material of the Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association, 1957-1968.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Personal Papers; 2) Reno Newspapers; 3) The Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association; 4) Correspondence.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Joseph F. McDonald Sr. and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph F. McDonald Jr. in 1968. Additonal material donated by Marygene McDonald in August 1998, Tracy McDonald in June 2010, and an unknown source in September 2017.

Related Materials

98-05: Addendum to Joseph F. McDonald Papers; NC1200: Lake Tahoe Area Council Records; NC459: Fred H. Settelmeyer Papers; NC1060: Walter E. MacKenzie Papers

Processing Information

In June 2021, the collection "An addendum to the Joseph F. McDonald Papers, 98-05" was merged into NC429 reflecting provenance of the materials. These materials are now contained in Series 4, Correspondence. At the same time, an additional accrual from June 2010 was also added to the collection. These materials were added to relevant series.

  • Group 2, Series 4: Old Newspapers--discarded all copies saved except for materials about J. McDonald, family, Spiedel, Reno newspaper (photocopied); also saved sample newspaper issues where they were missing on microfilm note on run, plus sample issues of Nevada State Journal through some decades.
  • Removed from Group 3, Series 3: Financial Records, all of the vouchers (1957-68), bank statements (1961-68).


Guide to the Joseph F. McDonald Papers
Lenore Kosso, Susan Searcy, and Rebecca 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)