Friends of the University of Nevada Records

Identifier: AC 0022

Scope and Contents

The Friends of the University of Nevada Records primarily documents the Stout-Richardson controversy and includes copies of the Wittenberg papers, audio-tapes and transcripts of the hearing held May 25-27, 1953, copies of legal documents, and correspondence generated and collected by the Friends. After the Richardson case was settled, Wittenberg followed further university developments; these are documented in the scrapbooks maintained throughout Stout's tenure, 1952-1957. Additionally, there is a limited amount of material on routine university matters in education, nursing, agriculture, engineering, and other colleges, departments, and agencies during this time.


  • 1950-1957


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.

Historical Note

The Friends of the University of Nevada was a group of alumni and citizens formed in response to the suspension of UNR Biology professor Frank T. Richardson after he shared an article critiquing nationwide university entrance requirements. Helen Wittenberg was secretary of the Friends and the reports and documents produced are known collectively as the "Wittenberg Papers." Richardson's eventual dismissal became a nationally known case on academic freedom. Four other UNR faculty members, including English professor Robert Gorrell, took Richardson's side in speaking out in favor of more stringent entrance requirements for students. Several faculty members resigned in protest, including noted novelist Walter Van Tilburg Clark, and more than 300 students demonstrated against the administration. The university administration removed a dean and reduced the salaries of faculty who supported the freedom of academic expression. The Association of American University Professors, of which Richardson was the local chapter president, censured the university.

The Friends of the University of Nevada continued to follow campus developments concerning the dismissal proceedings against Richardson, Gorrell, and the other three faculty members who spoke out. The group continued to monitor UNR President Minard W. Stout's administration through his tenure on the campus. The state appointed a special investigating committee headed by Dean E. McHenry to investigate this and other university controversies. They released a report critical of Stout and the Board of Regents and recommending enlargement of the Board. By the end of 1957, the enlarged board determined the University's internal problems could not be ended without Stout's removal. Minard W. Stout was formally requested to resign.


5.021 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Friends of the University of Nevada was a group of alumni and concerned citizens. Helen Wittenberg, active in local affairs, served as secretary to the Friends and was married to Ralph Wittenberg, an attorney representing Frank Richardson who was a faculty member suspended and president of the local AAUP suspended by university president Minard W. Stout for distributing an article critical of education professors and supporting higher academic standards. Also active in the Friends were Etta and Samuel G. Houghton. The collection primarily documents the Minard W Stout-Frank T. Richardson controversy and includes correspondence, transcripts, and scrapbooks on the legal proceedings and the Friends involvement. Also included is a history leading up to the Richardson hearing written by Walter Van Tilburg Clark.


Arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Helen Wittenberg circa 1968.

Guide to the Friends of the University of Nevada Records
Betty Glass
August 2008
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)