Western Range Association Collection

Identifier: BAQ050

Scope and Contents

BSQAP 0112 1951-1970

The Western Range Association collection documents the organization's activities relating to Basque sheepherders.

-Photocopies of the Bulletin of the California Range Association, nos. 1 to 142

-Photocopies of reports about contracts between members of the association and the sheepherders (1960-1970)

- 6 microfilm rolls.


  • 1951-1970


Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site.

Biographical / Historical

The Western Range Association (WRA) is an organization that supports the western United States (U.S.) sheep industry.

A shortage of an agricultural labor force during and after World War II created a crisis in the sheep industry of the American West, causing some sheepherders to reduce the size of their grazing operations drastically. Ranchers organized to get immigration laws changed so they could hire sheepherders from the Basque Country. The California Range Association was the largest such organization of sheep ranchers. After successfully lobbying in the 1950s on behalf of ranchers throughout the West to pass the "sheepherder bills" that allowed ranchers to sponsor herders from the Basque Country, the name of the organization was changed to the Western Range Association (WRA). The WRA was not only active in national politics but also played an international role in negotiating with the government of Spain and setting up a sheepherder recruiting office in Bilbao. Back in the United States, the biggest challenge for the WRA was to keep members in compliance with Federal regulations governing the importation of herders. Sponsored sheepherders were required to be deported if they left the sheep industry, but they did not always leave a forwarding address.

In 1966, 1,283 herders were under contract to the Western Range Association. When the improvement of economic conditions in the Basque Country during the 1970s made it more challenging to recruit herders, the WRA redirected its recruiting efforts to Mexico and Peru.

SOURCES: UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO. Sheepherders of Northern Nevada: A Multimedia Exhibit. [Online] http://knowledgecenter.unr.edu/sheepherders/ WESTERN RANGE ASSOCIATION. About. [Online] http://www.westernrangeassociation.com/about.html


0.5 Cubic Feet (1 boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is composed of photocopies of the California Range Association [name changed to Western Range Association in 1960] Bulletin and the Western Range Association Reports of the Employment Status of Contract Sheepherders. It also includes six microfilm rolls containing information about the Taylor Grazing Act, the Western Range Association and Guerra de Vascos y Vizcainos.

Physical Description

Use is restricted for one of the boxes

A Guide to the Collection of Western Range Association
In Progress
Irati Urkitza Ansoleag
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Jon Bilbao Basque Library Repository

1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)