Scope and Content
Title: City of Davis Collection
10.8 linear feet
Abstract: The City of Davis Collection documents life in a Sacramento Valley community
during the twentieth century as seen through material related to the city's local government. The
collection spans the years 1917-1982, with clusters of material around the periods 1932-1939, 1946-1960,
and 1978-1982. Included are correspondence, property assessment records, legal opinions, bids, receipt
books for business licenses, contracts, newsletters, bulletins, maps, plans, personnel recommendations,
a warrant register, a registry of births, policy statements, regulations, petitions, meeting minutes,
tax returns, court decisions, and election documents. Of special note is the personal correspondence
file of Norman D. Thomas, the city's third clerk and city attorney, serving at the height of the Great
Depression. The collection affords glimpses into local politics, city administration, business activity
and licensing, New Deal programs, Prohibition, tax assessment and collection, and development of the
University Farm, later known as the University of California, Davis.
Physical location: Researchers should contact Special Collections to request collections, as
many are stored offsite.
University of California, Davis. General Library. Dept. of Special Collections.
Davis, California 95616-5292
Collection number: D-344
Language of Material: Collection materials in English.
Scope and Content
The City of Davis Collection spans the years 1917 to 1982, with the bulk of material clustered in three
main periods: 1932-1939, 1946-1960, and 1978-1982. The collection is arranged in ten series: 1. Norman
D. Thomas Correspondence Files, 2. Financial Management, 3. Administration, 4. Services and Public
Works, 5. Ordinances, 6. Planning and Zoning, 7. Property Valuation, 8. Elections, 9. Business
Licensing, and 10. Oversize.
Much of the material in this collection touches on functions attached to the clerk of the City of Davis,
an appointee who served at the will of the Board of Trustees (later, the City Council) from the city's
incorporation in 1917 until 1950, when it adopted an administrative structure that relied on a city
manager. Among other responsibilities, the city clerk kept notes of trustee and council meetings,
implemented their decisions, published official notices, served as the city's tax assessor, held
ex-officio status as clerk for Davis's Board of Equalization, and administered elections. The city clerk
also served as city attorney from incorporation through the 1930s.
The City of Davis Collection documents local life, politics, and civic affairs in Davis, California, as
seen through a sampling of material related to city government at the height of the Great Depression.
This period overlaps the tenure of Forrest A. Plant (1917-1932) and Norman D. Thomas (1933-1939), two of
Davis's earliest city clerks and city attorneys. Through its property valuation records, the collection
also documents real estate holdings, tax assessments, and building construction in 1933 and during the
post-World War II years. In addition, it documents local election practices during the late 1970s and
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online
public access catalog.
Plant, Forrest A., 1889-1933.
Local Elections--California Davis.
Public Works--California, Northern.
United States--Economic conditions--1918-1945.
United States--Politics and government--1933-1945.
Yolo County (Calif.)--History.
University of California, Davis--History.
Collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], City of Davis Collection, D-344, Department of Special Collections, General
Library, University of California, Davis.
Copyright is protected by the copyright law, chapter 17, of the U.S. Code. All requests for permission to
publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections, General Library,
University of California, Davis as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or
imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.