I started working on the Southern Nevada Jewish Community Digital Heritage Project in early January. My main responsibilities are to collect archival materials that document the local Jewish community, process and describe these archival collections, and select items to be digitized and made available online. Working on this project has allowed me to learn about Las Vegas through the stories of the Jewish individuals and organizations that have shaped the city's history. We have also collected the papers of locals who made an impact outside of Southern Nevada, such as U.S. Senator Chic Hecht and U.S. Representative Shelley Berkley. Many of our "Jewish" collections are already open to researchers in our reading room at UNLV, but I can't wait until we can share these unique primary sources online with the rest of the world.
(Left) Photograph of Adele Salton (Baratz) as a toddler, 9th Street, circa 1930; (Right) Photograph of Adele Flora Salton from the Sinai Hospital School of Nursing, Baltimore, Maryland, 1947
I jumped right into the action of the project in January, and during my second week of work I had the pleasure of meeting Adele Baratz (née Salton), a retired nurse who grew up in Las Vegas. Her family moved to Las Vegas in 1927, when she was two years old. Her mother Rebecca cooked and sewed for people and her father Al Salton sold bootlegger supplies. After Prohibition was over, he opened a bar for Union Pacific Railroad Workers. It was called Al's Bar and it even had slot machines. Al Salton made most of his money in real estate though, fulfilling an earlier prophecy made by a fortune teller near the Mexican border. During World War II Adele Baratz worked at Nellis Air Force Base (at the time it was called the Las Vegas Army Airfield). One summer she was a messenger, and rode a little scooter all around the base. The next summer she worked in the rationing department, where she made sure to remind the soldiers to use their ration coupons responsibly. They asked her to stay on after she graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1947, but she turned down the offer and went to nursing school in Baltimore instead. Baratz later returned to Las Vegas with her two children, and she worked at Sunrise Hospital for 17 years, retiring in 1991.
More of Adele Baratz's fascinating life story is recorded in two oral history interviews that are housed in Special Collections. Her oral histories will be made available online as part of the Southern Nevada Jewish Community Digital Heritage Project, along with the oral histories of many other local Jewish individuals. Project Coordinator Barbara Tabach is still busy tracking down more unique perspectives from the local Jewish community and conducting interviews to record this history for researchers and future generations.
Photograph of Adele Baratz and her brother Charles Salton, no date