University special collections and archives chief Michelle Light says the goal is to trace Hispanic history in the region since Raphael Rivera found Las Vegas' original springs in 1829.
The Humanities Access Grant requires the UNLV libraries to raise a matching $100,000 in external funding.
It's one of 253 NEH grants awarded across the nation.
UNLV Oral History Research Center director Claytee White says students would collect oral histories about Hispanic immigration and settlement, discrimination and activism, aspirations, challenges, family life, politics, employment and community events.
The libraries program has conducted similar projects documenting local African-American and Jewish histories.