Don Frazier Papers

Identifier: AC 0692

Scope and Contents

The Don Frazier Papers contains correspondence between Don Fowler and Don Frazier concerning UNR archaeological work in the Great Basin, about his endowment to UNR's Anthropology Department for the Don Fowler Endowment for Great basin Archaeology, and biographical information.


  • 1986-2017


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

Don Frazier was born on September 11, 1924 in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1930, his family relocated to Nevada to a horse ranch 50 miles outside of Reno, Nevada. Because the closest school was located approximately 50 miles away from the ranch, Frazier and his brother took Calvert Course Home Instruction until high school. He spent two summers on the east coast of the United States in boarding school but returned to Nevada to attend Reno High School after his parents sold their big ranch and purchased River Ranch just 14 miles outside of Reno. While at boarding school, Frazier met his future wife, Gretchen Fuller. They eventually married on July 27, 1946, had three children, and remained happily married until Gretchen's death 58 years later on April 17, 2005.

At 19, Frazier joined the Army Air Corp. He served there until April 1946 and, with assistance from his Uncle, got a job at the Material Handling Laboratories in Boston. The company, a post-war startup, had three divisions, a consulting engineering group, a small product development group, and a magazine called The Palletizer; he acted as a gopher for all three divisions. He remained with the company until 1949 when he started his own business, Frazier Industrial Company, as a small material handling equipment sales company. Frazier ran the company until 1979 when he turned everything but his title over to his board chairman, Bill Mascharka.

At the same time in the 1970s, Frazier began to devote more of his time to study his love of early man archaeology in the Americas. His main focus was in the Great Basin, primarily northern Nevada. He worked closely with Bob Heiser at the University of California, Berkeley until his death in 1979. It wasn't until a few years later that his path crossed with Don and Kay Fowler, professors of Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He became close friends with the Fowlers and even accompanied them and their students on fieldwork during the summer.

In 1996, Frazier was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Nevada, Reno as well as the title of adjunct professor for his donations of not only money but time to the Anthropology Department. Don Fowler is quoted as saying "Lots of people give money to the University, but you gave time, to an with the students. And not everybody does that."

Don Frazier passed away in Arizona on December 13, 2017 at the age of 93.


0.21 Linear Feet (4 folders)

Language of Materials



Don Frazier (1924-2017) was a Great Basin anthropology enthusiast who donated both time and money to the University of Nevada, Reno Anthropology Department. The collection contains correspondence and other materials relating to Frazier's archaeological work in the Great Basin and his endowment to the Anthropology Department.


Arranged by type.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Don D. Fowler in July 2018.



Guide to the Don Frazier Papers
Jessica Maddox
August 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. University Archives Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno NV 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)