Sally Zanjani Papers

Identifier: 2013-04

Scope and Contents

The Sally Zanjani Papers contains research collected by Zanjani limited to her many books and articles on Nevada and western United States history. Most of the collection is comprised of photocopies of original documents held by historical societies, archives, and individuals; very few original documents are present in the collection. An attempt to differentiate between original documents and those that have been duplicated from originals has been made and can be noted through the placement of the date at the folder level within each series. If dates are located at the beginning of the file, the documents are copies; any dates at the end of files indicate original documents or when the copy was made. For example, an entry of “1907 miscellaneous, 1985; undated.” means that the copies of the documents cover 1907, but were made in 1985, and some materials were not dated at all.

The collection is arranged into 12 series reflecting the publication order of Zanjani’s books, with general research, articles, and other writings at the end. Series 1-9 contain research gathered for nine of Zanjani’s book-length publications: The Unspiked Rail (1981); The Ignoble Conspiracy (1986) with Guy Rocha; Jack Longstreet (1988); Goldfield: The Last Gold Rush on the Western Frontier (1992); A Mine of Her Own (1997); Sarah Winnemucca (2001); The Glory Days in Goldfield (2002); Devils Will Reign (2006); and Helen J. Stewart: First Lady of Las Vegas (2011) with Carrie Townley Porter. One folder and a copy of the book “Ghost Dance Winter” and Other Tales of the Frontier (1994) is found in Series 12. Types of research include: copies of original documents such as newspapers, wills, deeds, and letters; correspondence; interviews (both on paper and as audio cassettes); and copies of annotated excerpts from books on the subjects. Each series also includes drafts with revisions; notes; articles sampled from the book; and correspondence with publishers (including peer review correspondence and comments).

Series 10: Nevada Political and Historical Research, contains materials that were gathered by Zanjani during the course of her research, but are not directly related to a specific publication. It is possible that much of this research was used in more than one publication, although no attempt has been made to match this material with specific publications. While accessing this series, it is best to also check Series 1-9 for additional information.

Series 11: Articles, contains articles written by Zanjani but not necessarily associated directly with a specific publication. Many of the articles were written using the research collected by Zanjani while working on her book-length publications, but these articles were not excerpted from her publications. Articles that were excerpted from a book can be found with the series. Although Zanjani wrote mostly academic articles, Series 12: Other Writings and Miscellaneous includes three short stories written by her.

Nearly all of the correspondence in the collection is associated directly with a publication or article, though a small amount of general correspondence is included at the end of Series 12: Other Writings and Miscellaneous. The end of Series 12 includes files on the Mining History Association, of which she was president, and includes editorial correspondence, conference information, and a few copies of their newsletter with mentions of Zanjani. Also included here are 4 spiral bound notebooks of notes related to her dissertation, an early article based on her dissertation, and 2 notebooks of notes regarding Goldfield, Nevada.


  • 1974-2016


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

Sally Zanjani (1937-2018), Nevada author and professor, was born Sally Springmeyer in San Francisco, California and raised in Reno and the Carson Valley, Nevada. Zanjani received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D at New York University. In 1975 she became an adjunct professor at the University of Nevada, Reno in Political Science in 1975, retiring in 2009.

Zanjani’s grandparents, Herman H. Springmeyer and Wilhelmine Heidtman Springmeyer, were among the earliest pioneers to the Carson Valley, emigrating from Germany in 1868. Her father, George Springmeyer, was a lawyer who was drawn to Goldfield, Nevada in 1906 by one of the last gold rushes in the West. Exceptionally active in politics and known as an incorruptible man in an extremely corrupt time, Springmeyer was an inspiration to Zanjani, who had always planned on writing a family memoir later in life. A near death experience, however, changed that. Shortly after earning her Ph.D., she and her scientist husband, Esmail, traveled to a series of scientific meetings around the world. A family illness forced them to miss one of their flights. That missed flight was the target of a terrorist attack, which caused the plane to crash into the sea off the coast of Greece. Her narrow escape made her question what in life she had left undone. She decided then to begin writing her family memoir, which became her first book, The Unspiked Rail. The experience of writing that first book caused her to become so hooked on Nevada history that she wanted to do nothing else.

In ten books (a bibliography follows this section) and sixty-one articles, Zanjani worked to unearth interesting Nevada stories for the delight and education of her readers. In addition, Zanjani has also been involved in the production of several Nevada history documentaries, is a past president of the Mining History Association, has been associated with the Nevada Women’s History Project, and is a member of both the Western History Association and the Western Writers of America.

Over the years, Zanjani has been honored as the recipient of a number of awards: the Cofounders Award from Westerners International for her book Goldfield: The Last Gold Rush on the Western Frontier in 1992; the Nevada Women's History Project, 1997; the Rodman Paul Award for Outstanding Contributions to Mining History, 1999; Nevada Writer’s Hall of Fame, 2000; the Evans Biography Award and the Cofounders Award from Westerners International for the biography Sarah Winnemucca, 2001; and the “Laura” award presented by Women Writing in the West for the best short story on a western woman in 2013.


27.4 Linear Feet (31 boxes)

Language of Materials



Sally Zanjani is a historian and former adjunct professor in the University of Nevada, Reno Political Science Department. She is the author of ten books and over sixty articles exploring the history of Nevada from the territorial period through the 19th century. Papers include research materials for Zanjani's numerous books and articles.


Arranged in the following series: 1) The Unspiked Rail Book Research; 2) The Ignoble Conspiracy Book Research; 3) Jack Longstreet Book Research; 4) Goldfield Book Research; 5) A Mine of Her Own Book Research; 6) Sarah Winnemucca Book Research; 7) The Glory Days in Goldfield Book Research; 8) Devils Will Reign Book Research; 9) Helen J. Stewart Book Research; 10) Nevada Political and History Research; 11) Articles; 12) Other Writings and Miscellaneous

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Sally Zanjani from 2013-2016.


This bibliography covers only the books written by Zanjani and does not include any articles. The listing includes call numbers for books maintained by the Special Collections Department, which are noted in brackets.
  • Devils Will Reign: How Nevada Began. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2006 [F841 .Z36 2006]
  • “Ghost Dance Winter” and Other Tales of the Frontier. Reno: Nevada Historical Society, 1994 [F841 .Z36 1994]
  • The Glory Days in Goldfield. Nevada. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2002 [F849.G8 Z36 2002]
  • Goldfield: The Last Gold Rush on the Western Frontier. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1992 [F849.G6 Z36 1992]
  • Helen J. Stewart: First Lady of Las Vegas. With Carrie Townley Porter. Las Vegas: Stephens Press, 2011 [F845.25.S74 Z365 2011]
  • The Ignoble Conspiracy: Radicalism on Trial in Nevada. With Guy Louis Rocha. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1986 [KF224.P74 Z36 1986]
  • Jack Longstreet: Last of the Desert Frontiersmen. Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 1988; reprinted by the University of Nevada Pres, 1994 [F841.L66 Z36 1988]
  • A Mine of Her Own: Women Prospectors in the American West, 1850-1950. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997 [HD6073.M612 U69 1997]
  • The Minority Party Innovation Theory: The Case of Nevada, 1886-1918 [thesis]. [s.l.: New York University, 1974 [JK2295.N42 Z3]
  • Sarah Winnemucca. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001. Second Edition, 2004 [E99.P2 H699 2001]
  • The Unspiked Rail: Memoir of a Nevada Rebel. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1981 [F841.S67 Z36 1981]
Guide to the Sally Zanjani Papers
Jessica Maddox
May 2016
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)