April 8, 1870 - April 14, 1950
Jennie (became Jeanne in 1899) Elizabeth Wier was born in Grinnell, Iowa. She graduated from Grinnell High School, taught primary school while attending Iowa State Teacher's College, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in didactics in 1893. She went to Heppner, Ore., as assistant principal of the high school and also taught classes.
In 1895, she enrolled at Stanford University seeking a history major. She continued to work on the Stanford degree even after she started teaching at Nevada State College and in 1901 received her Bachelor of Arts in History. Wier came to Nevada in 1897 to study the Washoe Indians. She wanted to continue to research and publish but needed funding to do so and anthropology was not yet considered an academic field.
In 1899, she was hired at Nevada State University and eventually became a professor and head of the Department of History and Political Science. The University conveyed upon her an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree in 1924.
The Nevada Historical Society was created in 1904; Wier was elected secretary and curator. She kept the historical society materials at her house. The 1911 Legislature appropriated money to build the society its first home, and later a structure was purchased for a storage building.
Wier started the Nevada Equal Franchise Society in 1910. The primary objective was to strike out the word "male" in Section II of the Nevada Constitution. The Joint Resolution was passed by the state Legislature in 1911. The next step was to have it passed in the 1913 Legislature, and after that it had to be approved in the 1913 general election. Wier indicated she was too busy - too involved with her teaching and the historical society - so chose not to participate further and let other women carry on the statewide campaign, which was successful.
In 1940, Dr. Jeanne Wier became professor emeritus of the University of Nevada.
In the "Preface to Nevada: A Guide to the Silver State," Sheila Rast, state supervisor, Nevada W.P.A. Writer's Project writes:
"Dr. Jeanne Elizabeth Wier, ... is the sponsor of the book, but her services to it go far beyond actual reading of the manuscript, in that many people who gave assistance to preparation of the book were stimulated long ago to an interest in Nevada history by Dr. Wier."
• Biographical sketch by Holly Van Valkenburgh.
• Throughout the month of March, the Nevada Appeal will feature biographies of Nevada women in celebration of Women's History Month. The biographies are written by Nevada Women's History Project members and are based on the project's collection. For more information on the women featured here visit the NWHP Web site at: www.unr.edu/wrc/nwhp/.