Cliff Young’s Legacy in Special Collections

Clifton Young died on April 3, 2016, and his passing got me to thinking about him. I met Cliff Young when I received a call from his staff about the possibilities of donating additional materials he had to Special Collections. He had already donated materials about himself and his family to be included in our manuscript collections, but before my time working in Special Collections. At the time of the call, he was one of Justices on the Nevada Supreme Court, formerly its Chief Justice, and had made the decision to retire from the bench. Consequently, he had to do something with all the accumulation of files that went beyond his court work. In 2002, I traveled to the Supreme Court building in Carson City to talk with him and see the files he had.

Walking into his office was a bit of a surprise as it wasn’t exactly what I expected. It was a complete surprise, actually. The walls were filled with photographs but also an amazing amount of mounted animal heads and fish, trophies of his time hunting and fishing throughout his life. He told me stories about most of the items, too. He had a love for the outdoors.

The materials that he wanted to donate to our department involved a continuation of items about his family plus his own work with the National Wildlife Federation and the Nevada Wildlife Federation, a lot of personal correspondence (and he knew everyone!), and items from his political career. Justice Young served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1953-1957, and had an unsuccessful campaign in 1956 where he lost to Alan Bible. He also was a state Senator from 1966-1980. Much of his political career was organized into a number of scrapbooks.
Cliff Young book

Since he knew about the court system, Young had also published a book entitled From Kings’ Court to Justice Courts: a Notable Judicial Odyssey in 1994, a project of the Nevada Judicial Historical Society. But as many authors have found, not all the research one does ends up between the covers, but it’s still good stuff that you hang onto. Consequently, he retained his research files on Nevada’s justice court system, plus drafts of the manuscript on its way through the publication process.

It was a treat to meet Justice Young and accept his donation. It was obvious that he loved to talk with people and had wonderful stories to regale you with. Those interested in his two manuscript materials can view the guides to his papers in Manuscript Collections 96-06 and 2002-14. He also conducted an oral history in 2002 and you can view the transcript here.