Virginia Cain Papers
Scope and Contents
The Virginia Cain Papers includes reports, correspondence, names of delegates to conventions, names of county chairs, and minutes of the Nevada Democratic Party; reports, agendas, minutes, and other materials of the Democratic National Committee meeting of 1990; and miscellaneous conference materials.
- Cain, Virginia, 1922-2017 (Person)
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
Virginia Hartigan Cain was born on May 1, 1922, in Brooklyn, New York. Her family soon moved to Asbury Park, New Jersey, but she returned to New York at age 16 to attend school in New York University graduating at 20. She later received a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Delaware.
During World War II, Virginia was employed as a civilian personnel counselor for the United States Army at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. While there, she met her husband of 58 years, Edmund J. Cain (1918-2003), then a Lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps. They moved around the country and overseas, living in New York City, Connecticut, Delaware, Santiago, Chile, and, ultimately, Reno, Nevada where Ed was Dean of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Cain was active in community affairs, including the American Association of University Women and the Business and Professional Women's Association, the National Education Association and state and local PTAs. Her greatest passion was Democratic Party politics. She believed that active participation in the political process was essential to preserving our democracy. Her passion for Democratic politics began in 1944, when she cast her vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In addition to active grass roots efforts for local and state candidates for office, Virginia was Chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party, a member of the Democratic National Committee, Vice Chair of the national Association of State Democratic Chairs and a delegate to four national Democratic conventions. The Nevada State Democratic Central Committee annually awards the Virginia Cain Leadership Award.
Cain was appointed as the At-Large Delegate to the 1980 White House Conference on Families and served on the Nevada Governor's Advisory Commission on Youth, and the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women and the Governor's Commission on Aging. In her later years, she served as the President of the Nevada Silver-Haired Legislative Forum and as a member of the Sanford Center on Aging at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Additionally, while in Reno, Virginia taught at Our Lady of the Snows Parochial School and later taught English and America Government at Reno High School. The 1978 United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision affirming her claims of denial of due process in a hiring decision by members of the Washoe County School Board established a significant precedent for the employment rights of women.
She finished her professional career as a Project Coordinator at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges where her greatest success was the passage of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978 which established exclusive tribal jurisdiction for custody proceedings involving Native American children.
Cain died in Los Angeles on September 19, 2017.
[Biographical note adapted from Virginia Cain's obituary, accessed on May 20, 2021]
1 Linear Feet (1 box)
Language of Materials
Virginia Cain was a Nevadan and a former director of the Support Enforcement Project of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. The collection includes reports, correspondence, names of delegates to conventions, names of county chairs, and minutes of the Nevada Democratic Party; reports, agendas, minutes, and other materials of the Democratic National Committee meeting of 1990; and miscellaneous conference materials.
Arranged into the following series: 1) Nevada State Democratic Party Materials; 2) National Democratic Party Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Virginia Cain in 1996.
A Part of
Nevada women's archives.
- Guide to the Virginia Cain Papers
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description