Dawn Y. Lappin Wild Horse and Burro Collection

Identifier: NC1385

Scope and Contents

The Dawn Y. Lappin Wild Horse and Burro Collection contains materials collected by Lappin during her work on issues concerning wild horses and burros in Nevada. Materials include photographs, reports, footage, correspondence, legislation, and additional materials she created and maintained while working with wild horse enthusiast Velma Johnston (a.k.a. "Wild Horse Annie"). Lappin and Johnston were two of the core members of Wild Horse Organized Assistance (WHOA/WHOA!), an organization founded by Johnston herself.

The collection also includes materials from Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Most of this material came from Milt Frei, one of the first BLM staff members assigned to work on Wild Horse issues. Additional material also includes records from the Nevada Wild Horse Commission, a state agency on which Dawn served as a member until its closure in 2010.


  • 1947-2014


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 / Historical

Dawn Y. Lappin, born on September 5, 1940, was a wild horse enthusiast who began working with Velma "Wild Horse Annie" Johnston concerning the treatment and protection of wild horses in Nevada including assisting Johnston in founding the Wild Horse Organized Assistance (WHOA/WHOA!), Inc. She worked with the organization in the 1971 passage of the Wild Horse and Burro Act. Following Johnston's death in 1977, Lappin became the leader of WHOA.

Later, she also served on Nevada Wild Horse Commission and also worked closely with Commission administrator, Catherine Barcomb. Additionally, throughout her career, she worked closely with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials, most notably among these was Milt Frei who had been working with wild horses in Nevada and the greater western United States since the 1970s.

Dawn died in November 2018.


44.417 Linear Feet (44 boxes, 1 film reel, 2 shared boxes, 1 oversized folder )

Language of Materials



Dawn Y. Lappin (1940-2018) was a wild horse activist working in Nevada and the American West during the 1970s-2010s. The collection includes correspondence, reports, maps, audio-video, and other materials related to wild horse management, conservation, and activism. Also included are records from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and records from the Nevada Wild Horse Commission.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Wild Horse Organized Assistance (WHOA/WHOA!); 2) Commission for the Preservation of Wild Horses; 3) Bureau of Land Management; 4) Materials Used in Wild Horse Database; 5) Moving Image and Audio Materials; 6) Maps

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Burt L. Lappin in January 2020.

Related Materials

Related archival materials held by the University of Nevada, Reno Special Collections Department:

Wild Horse and Burro Collection (NC1383); Western Shoshone Defense Project Records (2013-10); Francis R. Breen Papers (NC1374); Les Sweeney Papers (NC1406).



Guide to the Dawn Y. Lappin Wild Horse and Burro Collection
Ian McGlory
June 2021
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)