Title: Lewis Hahn Papers
Creator(s): Hahn, Lewis
Collection Number: 2006-16
Dates (inclusive): 1906-circa 1940
Physical Extent: 0.25 cubic feet (1 box)
Preferred Citation: Lewis Hahn Papers, 2006-16. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Reno.
Repository: University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department
Permanent Link: http://dewey.library.unr.edu/xtf/view?docId=ead/2006-16-ead.xml

Biographical Note

Wonder, Nevada, located approximately 50 miles east of Fallon, was established in 1906 after the discovery of a rich quartz vein in a dry wash north of Chalk Mountain. Lewis “Lew” Hahn ( -1956) came to the town in the early days of the boom. He, among hundreds of other men, came to Wonder in search of riches in order to improve their financial condition. Hahn, in describing Wonder, calls it both a “Utopia” and “Valley of Despair.”

Hahn, originally from New Jersey, founded the Lew Hahn & Co. Mining Investments company and, by 1908, staked 5 claims in the hopes of striking it big. Hahn left Nevada around 1910 for New York. From 1918-1928 and again in 1937, he served as the managing director of the National Retail Dry Good Association. Beginning in 1928, Hahn managed Hahn Department Stores, which eventually became the Allied Department Stores. By the early 1940s, Syndicate-Alliance Trading Company, Inc., a mercantile wholesaler based out of New York City, had replaced Allied Department Stores; Hahn served as president of the company.

Deeply involved in the mercantile business during the 1920s and into the Great Depression, Hahn, along with others in the mercantile/retail world were concerned about holiday sales. 1939 was a particularly worrisome year as Thanksgiving, at that time traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday of the month, fell in the fifth week of November which left a shorter shopping period before Christmas. President Roosevelt, hearing the concerns from this sector and upon the suggestion of Hahn, elected to move Thanksgiving that year to earlier in November in the hope of allowing more time for holiday shopping. Unfortunately for retailers, moving Thanksgiving that year did nothing to boost sales.


Scope and Content

The Lewis Hahn Papers consists almost exclusively of correspondence to and from Hahn from individuals involved in mining in both Wonder and Goldfield, Nevada. Two of these men, Dane Greer and Roy Collom, were fellow miners and exceptionally good friends to Hahn. In their letters, they often fondly recall memories of their time spent in Wonder. Hahn also writes often about Edith, a woman whom he intended to marry if he was able to.

Also of interest in the collection is a short autobiographical sketch of Hahn reflecting on his time in Wonder; an advertising booklet from the Syndicate-Alliance Trading Company, Inc.; and one issue of The Wonder Miner newspaper from 1907.

Please note that outside of the advertising booklet, this collection does not include information about Hahn’s later years in New York or his tenure on the National Retail Dry Good Association.


Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Immediate Source of Acquisiton

Purchased from Vigilante Rare Documents, April 2006.

Separated Materials

Photographs have been transferred to the Special Collections Department photo archive as collection number UNRS-P2007-12.



  • Arranged by type of material and chronologically.


Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog of the University Libraries, University of Nevada, Reno. Researchers wishing to find related materials are encouraged to use the following index terms:



Geographic Locations:




Administrative Information

Collection processed by Jessica Maddox, December 2016. Finding aid prepared by Jessica Maddox, December 2016. This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on January 24, 2017.


Detailed Description of the Records

Lewis Hahn autobiography, circa 1940
Correspondence: General, 1905-1913
Correspondence: Dane Greer, 1908-1909
Correspondence: Roy Collom, 1908-1910
Envelopes from Wonder, Nevada, undated
Henry Weber vs. Vulture Mining Company, District Court Decision, 7th Judicial District, undated
The Wonder Miner, 1(13), May 30, 1907
“The Syndicate-Alliance Trading Company, Inc.” advertising booklet, circa 1940