Historic Reno Preservation Society (HRPS): Donnelyn Curtis discusses “The Saga of the Alfred Doten Diaries”
Donnelyn Curtis, Librarian UNR IGT Knowledge Center, discusses “The Saga of the Alfred Doten Diaries”
Alfred Doten (1829-1903) was an adventurer, a forty-niner, a rancher, a social sensation, and then a family man and journalist on the Comstock, and finally, a derelict succumbing to his weaknesses. His importance is as a diarist who kept a 53-year daily record of his life during a significant period of Nevada and California history. The University of Nevada, Reno acquired the diaries in 1961, resulting in a 3-volume, 2,381-page publication edited by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, launching Robert Laxalt's University of Nevada Press. It was an instant classic and became a valued source for historians. It was by necessity an abridged edition, containing less than half of the text in the original diaries. The web has opened up new possibilities to present the COMPLETE diaries, with enhancements and interactive features. A long-term project to bring the diaries online is underway, through a collaboration of Library and History faculty at UNR and the participation of dedicated volunteers. It will reveal fascinating stories of Doten and his diaries from 1849 to the present.
As a UNR librarian, Donnelyn Curtis has had several roles at the library, but her favorite is her current position in Special Collections, focusing on the needs of researchers. She has written and edited books and websites on library services and Nevada history, and has been involved with the Doten diaries for the last 10 years.