Scope and Content
Related Material at the California State Archives
Title: Department of Employment and the Department of Human Resources Development Records
Inventory: See series for identification numbers
Department of Employment
Department of Human Resources Development
Extent: 44 cubic feet
California State Archives
Abstract: The records of the Department of Employment (1936-1967) and Department of Human Resources Development (1968-1974) include
42 cubic feet of records accumulated over 30 years at the California State Archives. The records cover the period 1932 to
1974 and reflect the work of one of the State's largest and most important social service agencies. In 1974 the Department
of Employment Development was replaced by the Department of Human Resources.
Physical location: California State Archives
Languages: Languages represented in the collection:
Collection is open for research.
For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication
is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility
for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives
[Identification of item], Department of Employment and the Department of Human Resources Development Records, [Identification
number], California State Archives, Secretary of State Office, Sacramento, California.
The Department of Employment was created by the Legislature in 1935 as part of the Unemployment Reserves Act. The act (Statutes
1935, chapter 352) was set up to provide "a (monetary) reserve to assist in protecting the public against the social effects
of unemployment." The purpose of the department was to operate a statewide system of employment agencies and distribute the
payment of unemployment insurance to eligible unemployed workers.
Under the Unemployment Reserve Act the governing body of the Department of Employment was the Unemployment Reserves Commission.
The five-member commission was composed of one state representative, two representatives for labor, and two representatives
from industry. The commission appointed an executive officer that served as the Director of the Department of Employment.
To better reflect its scope of work, the commission became the California Employment Commission in 1939. The name of the
commission was again changed in 1943 to the California Employment Stabilization Commission. (Statutes 1943, chapter 1093).
The commission was abolished in 1955 and replaced by an advisory council. (Statutes 1955, chapter 1166.)
The California State Employment Service was also created in 1935 by chapter 258 (Statutes 1935) under the Department of Industrial
Relations. Its purpose was to cooperate with the U.S. Employment Service in establishing a national employment system. The
service was transferred to the Department of Employment later in 1935. Previous to this law, the State operated public employment
offices under the Bureau of Labor Statistics - State Free Employment Bureau (Statutes 1915, chapter 302). Chapter 440 of
1927 transferred this responsibility to the Department of Industrial Relations, Division of State Employment Agencies. These
predecessor agencies attempted to match unemployed workers with employers requiring additional labor. In 1942 the California
State Employment Service was transferred to the federal government, as part of a wartime measure to provide centralized control
for needed labor. It was returned to the State in November 1946.
The Department of Employment was reorganized in 1947. The legislation (Statutes 1947, chapter 1166) provided for a Director
of Employment to head the department, who would be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the governor. The director assumed
many of the responsibilities of the commission. The director also served as the division chief for the Public Employment
Offices and Benefit Payments Division. He was further given the authority to name assistants, including the Deputy Director,
as he deemed necessary.
As part of Governor Reagan's Reorganization Plan of 1968, the Department of Employment was placed under the Human Relations
Agency. With the signing of chapter 1460 that same year, the department became to the Department of Human Resources Development,
which assumed the duties, purposes, responsibility, and jurisdiction of the former department. The name of the department
was again changed in 1974 (chapter 1212), when it became the Employment Development Department. The records described in
this inventory reflect only those of the Department of Employment and the Department of Human Resources.
The department's Administration and Executive Office has contained several sections and units of the Department. The Director
and Deputy Director headed this office. Its sections and units have included the Research and Statistics Section, Legal Section,
Rules and Regulations Officer, Personnel Section, and Investigation Section.
The Division of Public Employment Offices and Benefit Payments was established 1943 by chapter 1093. Its main responsibilities
have included the distribution of unemployment insurance; development of job openings; and classification, selection, and
referral of qualified applicants to employers. Subdivisions with the division have included the Benefit Payments Technical
Section, Employment Services Section, Farm Labor Services Section, Management Inspection Section, and the Unemployment Insurance
In 1947 an Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board was created by the Legislature. It had final administrative judicial authority
in all unemployment insurance, disability insurance, and tax appeal cases. Previously an appeals bureau within the department
handled these duties.
The Division of Accounts and Tax Collections was created by chapter 1093 in 1943. The division had responsibility for accounting
and tax collection for unemployment and disability insurance. In 1947 the department began also distributing disability insurance
for non-job-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. California was the second state in the nation to offer this coverage.
The commission and later the director were given to authority to create those division that would were required by the "exigencies
and nature of the work of the department." (Chapter 1093.) The following divisions are those not created by statute, but
whose records are described in this inventory. Among these divisions was the Division of Administrative Services. Their
tasks have included training, accounting, and personnel.
A Division of Unemployment Compensation existed from 1937 to 1943. Within the division were the Auditing Section and the
Benefits Section. Most of the responsibility of this division transferred to the Public Employment Office and Benefit Payments
Division in 1943.
In March 1950, the Division of Development and Stabilization of the Economy was created within the department. It was concerned
with the development of new industries and job opportunities within the State, as well as the stabilization of existing means
of providing employment for the State's workforce.
Scope and Content
The records of the Department of Employment (1936-1967) and Department of Human Resources (1968-1974) include 42 cubic feet
of records accumulated over 30 years at the California State Archives. The records cover the period 1932 to 1974 and reflect
the work of one of the State's largest and most important social service agencies. In 1974 the Department of Employment Development
was replaced by the Department of Human Resources. For records in the post-1974 period, the researcher should consult the
accession register for Employment Development Department records.
The collection will be exceptionally useful for the researcher tracing the development of California's social programs, including
unemployment insurance and disability insurance. Found within the records are topics including: the Great Depression, Bracero
Program, Mexican farm laborers, immigration to California, World War II, aircraft industry, industrial development during
and after World War II, civil defense programs, unemployment, employment of minority groups, agriculture, agricultural laborers,
development of small businesses, recruitment of workers to California industries, and employment of the elderly or aging workforce.
Another strength of the collection is the connection between the federal and state governments. Also of interest are the files
from the California State Employment Service, which was transferred to the federal government in 1942 so that labor resources
could be coordinated on a national level during World War II.
Much of the information found within the collection is in a statistical format. Some of this information will provide new
avenues for study of various topics. For example, using the Farm Labor Services Section records, the diligent researcher
could trace the ups and downs of a certain agricultural crops or counties over a thirty year period.
The records of the Department of Employment/Human Resources are organized by the administrative divisions within the department.
These divisions or units include Administration/Executive Office, California State Employment Service, Division of Unemployment
Compensation, Division of Administrative Services, Division of Development and Stabilization of the Economy, Division of Farm
Labor Services, Division of Public Employment Offices and Benefit Payments, the California Unemployment Stabilization Commission,
and the U.S. Employment Service.
Probably the most notable of the above divisions is the Public Employment Offices and Benefit Payments, which cover the years
1938-1973. Within these records are guides and handouts that show the development of the department and industry in California.
Records from the Employment Services Section deal in large part with the employment of minority groups and older workers.
The Farm Labor Services Section records show the history of the use of farm labor from the 1940s through the 1960s.
The researcher should also consult two previously processed collections. These are the minutes of the California Employment
Stabilization Commission (1935-1946) and the records of Social Worker Placement Service (1940-1953). Finding aids for these
collections are available at the California State Archives.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
California. State Dept. of Employment
California. Dept. of Human Resources Development.
Related Material at the California State Archives
Employment Development Department Records