UNLV Libraries and Vegas PBS Awarded Grant to Produce Documentary

The UNLV University Libraries has been awarded a $99,716 grant to partner with Vegas PBS to produce a documentary, African Americans: The Las Vegas Experience, with accompanying curricular materials. The grant is administered by the Nevada State Library and Archives under the Library Services and Technology Act through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent federal agency.

This unique project will team Vegas PBS’s creative production department with expert faculty from the UNLV University Libraries to weave together a compelling narrative about Las Vegas’s rich African American history. Drawing from the extensive historical collections of the UNLV Libraries Special Collections, the documentary will feature oral histories, photographs, letters, and other materials that tell many stories about the African American experience and their context in Southern Nevada.

Claytee White, Director of the Oral History Research Center at the UNLV University Libraries, explained, “I hope the documentary will reach new audiences and spread understanding and interest in our region’s African American history.” Beginning in 2012, White led a collaborative of nine organizations to collect, preserve, and make Southern Nevada’s African American history more accessible. As a result of this project, over 75 oral histories, 11 video interviews, 900 photographs, and 500 documents are now available online in the web portal, Documenting the African American Experience.

The proposed documentary will shape this collected historical evidence into personal, relatable stories. Vegas PBS estimates the documentary will reach over 100,000 local residents through broadcast or online delivery. In addition, Vegas PBS will segment the documentary into teachable clips, correlate them to state K-12 standards, and prepare a curriculum guide for using the clips in K-12 classrooms.

Vegas PBS General Manager Tom Axtell stated, “Engaging our community through collaborative partnerships is a shared strategic priority. We feel the African Americans: The Las Vegas Experience documentary will connect a wider audience to our local African American history and its relevance to Nevada’s broader history, culture, and sense of place.”