Gordon Griswold Papers

Identifier: NC451

Scope and Contents

The Gordon Griswold Papers is evenly divided between papers concerning Griswold's business interests and his involvement with state and national stockmen's organizations; there is very little personal correspondence.

Griswold's business interests are well documented in this collection through several types of documents, including correspondence, grazing permits, invoices, receipts, deeds and other sale agreements, and inventories of property owned. Griswold's first company, the Griswold-Henderson Livestock Company, was jointly owned; in 1932 Griswold purchased Henderson's interests and renamed the company the Griswold Livestock Company. Papers documenting this transaction are present, as are many deeds and agreements for additional land purchased or leased over the years. Not all of the grazing land utilized by the company was owned by Griswold; several thousand acres were accessed through grazing permits from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Grazing permit applications provided interesting details as to the extent of Griswold's stock and land holdings (both quantity and quality).

Another substantive source for information on the financing of Griswold's operations is revealed in the files of the Nevada Livestock Production Credit Association, of which Griswold was both a member and director. Many ranchers and farmers must borrow funds to finance their yearly operations; the documents filed by Griswold with the Association for operational loans reveal many particulars of his businesses, including inventories of his land (both owned and leased), stock, equipment, other loans or mortgages, and cash assets.

Griswold also acted as a broker for several eastern wool merchants, buying fleeces from Nevada ranchers on behalf of the merchants and arranging for their shipment to the east coast. Correspondence from these firms was concerned with the wool's quality and prices obtained, and market conditions as reflected by world events such as World War II.

The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 brought under federal control all public domain lands in the United States. Griswold was a member of the National Advisory Council which oversaw the Act's administration; he also sat on the Nevada State Grazing Board which served in a similar capacity at the local level. Files of both organizations provide some minutes of meetings, bylaws (of the Nevada board), extensive correspondence (especially with Senator Pat McCarran) about matters such as the appointment of new Secretaries of the Interior, and reports on proposed amendments to the original act. All serve to illustrate how powerful interest groups may influence public policies and policy implementation.

As previously mentioned, Griswold served as a director for the Nevada Livestock Production Credit Association. [Association regulations permitted a certain category of customers/investors to serve as directors.] His Association files consist mainly of correspondence providing specifics of how the organization functioned.

Several files in this collection contain very rough notes created by Griswold as coordinator of Operation Haylift of 1949. This rescue operation was assembled hastily to transport feed to snow-bound ranches in eastern Nevada, where snow hampered transportation routes to the point where all roads were closed for several days. Griswold's notes document how this multi-agency effort worked with civilians to airlift feed to stranded livestock, utilizing the military, the Department of Forestry, and the Bureau of Land Management. Also included are rough notes for, and copies of telegrams sent to and from U.S. Senators from Nevada who worked in Washington to speed aid to the stricken area. Most of these notes consist of rough scribbles on scrap paper, clearly conveying the sense of urgency necessary to meet the emergency.

Without a doubt, this collection provides important and extensive information on the livestock industry of eastern Nevada and on the influence Nevada livestock businessmen such as Griswold had on legislative and administrative matters affecting their industry, both nationally and in Nevada.


  • 1926-1954


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

Gordon Griswold was born in Lamoille, Nevada in 1900; his parents were Chauncey W. and Mary Dakin Griswold; his older brother Morley served as a governor of Nevada and legal counsel to Gordon. Gordon was educated at the New York Military Academy, the University of Nevada, and Cornell University.

Beginning in 1924, Griswold's principal business was the raising of livestock (specifically, sheep), initially under the name Griswold-Henderson Livestock Company, and from 1932 on as the Griswold Livestock Company. Griswold owned many thousand acres of land in Nevada and leased additional thousands from the federal government in Nevada Grazing Districts #1 and #4. His winter headquarters were at Silver King in Lincoln County; his summer headquarters were at what was known as Sheep Ranch in Lamoille Valley, Elko County. A statement made by Griswold in 1938 noted that before that time he had run up to 12,000 head of sheep at a time.

Griswold also acted as a broker for several eastern wool-buying firms between 1936-1949, specifically the Hallowell, Jones and Donald Wool Merchants; the Hills, Oglesby and Devine Sheep Commission Merchants; and the R. H. Pitchforth Company.

Griswold was active as a director and officer on several commissions and associations in connection with the livestock industry. He was president and director of the Nevada Livestock Production Credit Association; president and member of the National Advisory Council [to the Taylor Grazing Act] and to the Nevada State Grazing Board; a director of the National Wool Council, the Nevada Wool Growers' Association, and the Eastern Nevada Wool Growers' Association; a member of the Nevada branch of the United States Department of Agriculture War Board and the Nevada Selective Service Board during World War II; and coordinator of Operation Haylift of 1949 (a rescue operation for ranchers unable to get feed to their livestock after a bad winter storm).

Because of these activities, Griswold was a strong influence on Nevada's U.S. Senators and Representatives, for example, during the several federal attempts to amend the Taylor Grazing Act. In particular, he served as one of Senator Pat McCarran's principal sources of information for the opinion of Nevada ranchers (and their associations, local and national, of which Griswold was a director).


3 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



Records of Griswold's sheep ranches, his terms as president and board member of the Nevada Livestock Production Credit Association, the National Advisory Board (for the Taylor Grazing Act), National Wool Council, Nevada Wool Growers' Association, the Nevada Selective Service Board, and the U. S. D. A. War Board, and as coordinator of Operation Haylift in Nevada, 1949. Topics discussed include droughts in Nevada, grazing lands, sheep, the effect of World War II on local food production, and Nevada's U. S. Senator, Pat McCarran.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Business Interests; 2) Stockmens' Organizations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Griswold family circa 1975.

Separated Materials

Photographs transferred to the Special Collections Department photo archive as collection number UNRS-P1989-54.


Guide to the Gordon Griswold Papers
Susan Searcy
January 1989
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)