Marjorie Sill Papers

Identifier: 2017-31

Scope and Contents

The Marjorie Sill Papers contain documents, maps, photographs, and artifacts relating to her lifelong work in environmental activism, enjoyment of the outdoors, and career as a high school math teacher in Sparks and Reno, Nevada. Series 1 contains Sierra Club documents. Series 2 contains documents and clippings related to the Sierra Nevada Alliance. Series 3 includes documents and artifacts from other organizations with which Marjorie Sill was involved, including her teaching career. Series 4 includes documents, maps, and photographs relating to environmental activism. Series 5 contains documents relating to the legal and political activity of the organizations with which Marjorie Sill was involved, and that which she did as a private citizen. Series 6 contains letters, memos, and other correspondence, both personal and public. Series 7 includes articles from newspapers and other periodicals. Series 8 contains photographic prints from the Sierra Club and outdoor excursions.


  • 1940-2015


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

Marjorie Sill, née Leite, was born December 2, 1923 in Bakersfield, California. She studied math and English at the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating from college, she married Richard C. Sill, and they both became active environmentalists. They moved to Reno in 1959 when Richard joined the University Of Nevada, Reno faculty in the physics department. Marge taught math at Sparks High School, and both joined the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club, where they rapidly rose to some prominence in environmentalist circles. The Sills divorced on May 12, 1977, and Richard died in a plane crash in 1981. Marjorie was one of the influential voices urging the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, and in the 1980s played instrumental roles in the creation of Great Basin National Park and the passage of the Nevada Wilderness Protection Act. Marjorie’s lifelong dedication to environmental protections and wilderness preservation earned her the moniker of “Mother of the Nevada Wilderness,” and tremendous respect. She was a founding board member of Friends of the Nevada Wilderness, and took part in a number of other organizations and groups, such as Great Old Broads for Wilderness and a variety of joint committees between environmental bodies. She was an active environmentalist and Democratic volunteer until she died on October 23, 2016, at the age of 92.


28.5 Linear Feet (29 boxes)

.00002 Gigabytes (3 Items)

Language of Materials



Marjorie L. Sill (1923-2016) was a Reno local and noted environmental activist for the Eastern Sierra and Great Basin regions through involvement with the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club and other regional and national organizations. The collection comprises materials related to her activism, organizational involvement, and a small amount of materials from her career as a high school teacher. It includes memos, publications, photographs, correspondence, government press releases and publications, legislative testimonies, articles, and news clips, as well as three born-digital files.


Arranged in the following series: 1) Sierra Club; 2) Sierra Nevada Alliance; 3) Other Organizations and Teaching; 4) Environmental Activism; 5) Legal and Political Involvement; 6) Correspondence; 7) Clippings; and 8) Photos.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Marjorie Sill Trust in 2017.

Processing Information

This collection required a degree of processor interference, due to its condition on arrival at the University of Nevada, Reno. The collection was largely unfoldered and thus comprised approximately thirty record cartons of loose pages. Processing involved creating and imposing an order by sorting the collection into intellectual groupings. Duplicates and items entirely without context have been discarded.


Marjorie Sill Papers
Elspeth A. Olson
March 2020
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)