This was Nevada

History is typically written about men. Letters from Nevada's Daughters is the vehicle for women to make the history books. Women do not have to be the first of something, the biggest, or even make the Guinness Book of Records. To create a place in history, women can take action by participating in the letters project.

This project was inspired by former Congresswoman Barbara F. Vucanovich, who decided to write letters to her grandchildren and great-grand children about her life leading up to her congressional career, her congressional life, and her retirement. Her memoirs are entitled Letters from the House: Reflections of a Tough Grandmother. Excerpts of the book are posted monthly on the Nevada Department of Museums, Library and Arts and the Nevada Women's History Project's Web sites. The respective addresses are:

Letters from the House: Reflections of A Tough Grandmother is Representative Barbara Vucanovich's memories as told to her daughter, Patty Cafferata, who along with Dale Erquiaga (Cafferata's former son-in-law) wrote the story. Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich, a Republican, stands alone in Nevada history as the first woman elected to federal office from Nevada, serving from 1982 until 1996.

The story is told by Barbara Vucanovich in letters to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In each letter Vucanovich first describes her life when that child was born, then she tells the child about some phase of her life. The letters are addressed to her grandchildren in the order of their births from 1962 to 1998, as follows: Elisa, Farrell, Reynolds, Mike Jr., Trevor, Nora, Jennifer, Maggie, Patrick, Katie, Casey, Heather, Scott and David, and to her great-grandchildren Brendan, Morgan, Taylor, Henry, Kelley, Philomena and Kenton.

Letters from the House is divided into three parts. Part One, called "In My House," contains nine chapters dealing with her life from 1921 to 1982 before she was elected to Congress. The first five chapters describe her family, beginning with her grandparents and ending with her children. In chapters six through nine, Vucanovich covers her employment, her non-political volunteer activities, and her relationships with Republican activists and Nevada politicians from both parties.

Part Two - entitled "In the House" - consists of eight chapters covering her life as the Nevada Congresswoman from the Second District from 1982 to 1996. Barbara gives a synopsis of her political campaigns, her discovery of a cancerous lump in her breast, her involvement with the so-called "women's issues," the public policy issues that she dealt with in Congress, the elected officials she met in Washington, D.C., the congressional trips she took, the world leaders she met, and her activities during her term when the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives.

Part Three covers the years from 1996 to 2000. Named "Home Again," this section is about her retirement. Vucanovich completes the story of her life by discussing her leisure time activities and how her daily life has changed since George Vucanovich died in 1998.

Vucanovich is encouraging women to log on to obtain more information and the forms to preserve their life stories for their families, or write to: Nevada Women's History Project, 770 Smithridge, Reno, NV 89502.

The project runs from now until January 2001. All letters will be preserved and some of them will be published on the Web site with the author's permission. Please join the Nevada Women's History Project and the State Library and Archives to preserve Nevada history.


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