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Oral History and First Ladies

2012 was a busy year for our committee.  Martha Gould became co-chair of the Oral History Committee with me and she completed the oral history of Kathleen Noneman, one of the founding members of NWHP, and close friend of NWHP pbstory1Founder, Jean Ford.  Kathy and her husband Charlie have lived and traveled throughout the world in his military profession. She was also a Washoe County School District teacher before deciding to attend law school. She received her Doctor of jurisprudence degree in 1987, practiced law in Reno and is now a retired Family Court Master.

The highlight of the year was finally seeing the NWHP publication of Pat Tripple’s oral history. After numerous personal interviews and the editing of those transcripts into a single storyline, the Patricia A. Tripple, A Retrospective was finally received back from the publisher in February 2013. This interesting oral history documents the highpoint in home economics education statewide, as Pat recounts the history of the Sarah Fleischman School of Home Economic at the University of Nevada from the mid-1950s through the demise of the school in the mid-1980s.  Her perspective is from the viewpoint of a newly hired Associate Professor who participated in the planning of the new Sarah Fleischmann School of Home Economics building, participated in the development of the new home economics curriculum, which was designed to meet the ever changing societal roles of the modern woman, and she received the appointment as the first Dean of the School of Home Economics in 1971.  Pat was also active in home economics on the national level by serving as a visiting scholar with the American Home Economics Association national office in Washington D.C. as well as serving as president of the AHEA pbstory 2Foundation.  The Retrospective fills in an important part of the University’s history that had not been documented before.

In addition Pat served as a Washoe County Assemblywoman in one of the most unique State Legislative sessions in our state’s history.  Voters failed to elect a majority of Republicans or Democrats to the 1995 Nevada State Assembly and thus the leadership, with the entire Assembly concurrence, chose to change the House leadership between each party on a weekly basis.  Pat provides a unique perspective on this procedure as a participant in that session.

The Pat Tripple Retrospective is available for purchase through NWHP.  Please attach a check with the flyer included in this newsletter.  If you need additional forms, you may print the flyer that can be found on the NWHP website or you may contact the NWHP office.  This book can also be purchased at Sundance Book Store in Reno and the State Legislative Bookstore in Carson City.  The price is $18.00 or 21.50 if mailed.

Sundance Book Store is also hosting Pat at a book signing event to be held Saturday, March 9 at 1:30 p.m.sandoval image

The biography of First Lady Kathleen Sandoval has been uploaded to our website.

Former Court Recorder Julietta Forbes recorded the interview session that I conducted with Mrs. Sandoval at the Governor’s Mansion.  A biography was written primarily from the transcript of that interview, approved by Mrs. Sandoval, and was recently placed on First Ladies webpage.

The actual interview transcript is now in the Jean Ford Research Library files.

The oral history of Ethel Jaffe has also been completed.  Ethel, a longtime Reno resident and activist in the formation of Temple Sinai in 1962, has been a main stay in the Jewish community since 1957.  Although from an Orthodox Jewish family, as a female, she did not receive Hebrew language instruction.  Finding no one in the newly formed temple that had a satisfactory command of the Hebrew language to instruct her son for his bar mitzvah in 1964, she challenged herself to learn the language in order that she could provide this necessary instruction.  Ethel was instrumental in the formation of the Temple Sinai Hebrew School and has instructed    countless youth and adults for their bat or bas mitzvahs for over 50 years.

Mary BellJoyce Cox wrote the biography of First Lady Mary Poor Bell, wife of Governor Frank Bell and it has been uploaded to our website.

Her husband has been referred to as “the accidental governor” as he filled in that position for a very short time before the election of a new governor. Although Mary lived most of her life in the city of Reno and was active in many civic organizations, compiling her biography was representative of the difficulty in writing biographies of women of her era. There is little public information on her activities to be found.

Collecting information other than what social functions were attended or what type of attire women who engaged in community activism before 1960 wore, is quite an arduous task because so little attention was given to their important activities and accomplishments.  Most information printed was generally located in newspaper society pages and featured social events attended and what the woman wore to the event.  Years of newspapers have to be perused, various library archives contacted and searched, and other research methods engaged in order to bring to light activities such as engagement in women’s suffrage, health/education issues, Equal Rights participation or other important community activities.

However, if we don’t record our women’s histories no one else will know and appreciate the many contributions Nevada women make, and thus support the old adage; men write and record the history…of mostly men.  We are therefore grateful to those individuals who volunteer to write biographies for our website, as it entails much more work than simply organizing the information, writing a coherent woman’s biography and compiling an accurate bibliography that researchers can utilize in their future publications.  Our organization extends the offer to assist in that research whenever possible with information from our files.

Both the Oral History and First Ladies Committees look forward to adding to the documentation of the  contributions  of Nevada’s women to our state in the coming year.

by Patti Bernard


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