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Alexander Pope Papers: Finding Aid
mssPope papers  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography Note on Alexander Pope
  • Biography Note on Philip E. Watson
  • Bibliography
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Alexander Pope Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1880-2000
    Bulk dates: 1978-1990
    Collection Number: mssPope papers
    Creator: Pope, Alexander, 1929-
    Extent: 369 boxes (approximately 154 linear feet)
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers and administrative files of lawyer and Los Angeles County Assessor Alexander Pope (born 1929), chiefly dating from the late 1970s-1990. The collection chiefly contains materials related to the Los Angeles County Assessor's office, materials from the offices of the California Citizens Budget Commission, and Pope's personal files. Notably, the collection includes materials related to the implementation of Proposition 13 (1978), which limited property taxation.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.
    Boxes 282, 283 are SEALED. Originals of redacted documents can be found in Pope Box A, which is also closed.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Alexander Pope Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift from Alexander Pope: the initial donation, including all the formal Assessor's Office material, was made January 27, 1996. Two additional donations of personal material were made at some point over the next three years. The final donation of California Citizens Budget Commission material was received in September, 2000.

    Biography Note on Alexander Pope

    Alexander Hillhouse Pope (born 1929) received his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School in 1952. Although he initially claimed he had no intention of practicing law, Pope did just that for more than twenty years in Los Angeles, California, while continuing his activities with the Democratic Party and local community associations. Pope's tireless campaigning and volunteerism were rewarded when he was appointed Governor Pat Brown's Legislative Secretary (1959-1961). At the community level, Pope was President of the Westchester Mental Health Clinic (1956-67) at a time when some factions still associated psychiatry with communist infiltration. He was also a consultant for the implementation of the McCone Commission Report, which examined the causes and effects of the Watts riots in 1965. Additionally, Pope served on the California Highway Commission (1966-1970) and was a member of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners (1973-1977).
    After working in a gubernatorial administration that elevated public education by leaps and bounds and oversaw a litany of public works and services, Alex Pope became a pivotal player in applying a new law that eroded the revenue for such services: Proposition 13. No sooner was Pope the first local politician to oppose the initiative, than he was appointed Assessor of Los Angeles County, the "biggest property tax agency in the world," and had to enforce the will of the voters: June 8, 1978 -- the New Deal and the Great Society were now in the distant past. Pope put aside his opinions and implemented Proposition 13 "within specified time limitations and with a high level of efficiency," according to L.A. County Chief Administrative Officer, Harry L. Hufford.
    Proposition 13 was the threshold event for an era of economic belt-tightening and its effects permeated intergovernmental relations as well as local municipal budgets. Pope's endeavors to correct problem areas of Proposition 13 came through litigation and his legislative work with Assemblyman Dave Elder even after Pope left the Assessor's Office in 1986. In 1997 he became Executive Director of the California Citizens Budget Commission which published comprehensive reports on reforming the state budget process and addressing the state's health care needs.

    Biography Note on Philip E. Watson

    Philip E. Watson was Los Angeles County Assessor from 1963 to 1977. A World War II pilot, he studied accounting at UCLA, became a field appraiser for the county and then deputy assessor. Watson efforts to reform the assessor's office and limit property taxes were sidetracked when Baxter Ward and other members of the County Board of Supervisors accused him of unfair assessment practices, favoring big corporations over small homeowners. These accusations culminated in an audit and report by former Watergate investigator Carmine Bellino, which was highly critical, but ultimately found no wrong-doing. This investigation and Watson's health were deciding factors in his decision to step down from the Assessor's Office in 1977. Watson died in 1986 at age 62 in Rancho Mirage, California.


    Adams, James R. Secrets of the Tax Revolt (San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, c.1984).
    Kuttner, Robert. Revolt of the Haves - Tax Rebellions and Hard Times (New York: Simon and Schuster, c1980).
    Richter, Paul. California and the American Tax Revolt - Proposition 13 Five Years Later (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, c. 1984).
    Shires, Michael A. Has Proposition 13 Delivered?: The changing tax burden in California (San Francisco, Calif.: Public Policy Institute, c. 1998).

    Scope and Content

    This collection is divided into three series, with approximately 45 percent of the materials consisting of Pope's Personal files, 34 percent from the County Assessor's Office and the remaining 21 percent from the offices of the California Citizens Budget Commission. The bulk of the materials are administrative in nature and format, such as letters, memos and reports. There is a considerable amount of political ephemera, legislation, litigation and published research documents, as well as photographs. Far and wide, the materials related to the implementation of Proposition 13 are the highlight of the collection.
    Individual series descriptions appear below:
    Series 1: L.A. County Assessor's Office, 1880-1992
    The majority of these files were created by various division chiefs and deal with administrative issues, personnel and valuation of property. Concentrations of interest begin in the Philip Watson era with his field deputy's efforts to write a history of the Assessor's Office, followed by the Bellino audit report and Watson's response to this scrutiny. There are also litigation files, Assessment Appeals Board (AAB) cases, sample forms, departmental activities, work plans, status reports, statistics and California State Board of Equalization documents. There are administrative files from the Pope era regarding such issues as Proposition 13's implementation, split roll, conflict of interests and assessment practices.
    Los Angeles County Assessor's Office staff featured in the collection include:
    • Robert H. McNeill, Jr., Assessor Watson's Field Deputy, assigned the task of writing the history of the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office.
    • Glenn Quinn: at times, Assistant Assessor and Director of Assessment Services and Chief, Residential Division, served both Watson and Pope administrations
    • Paul M. Hannah, Assistant Assessor, Director of Valuations, Assessment Services and Assessor's Operations, served both Watson and Pope administrations
    • Sherrill D. Luke, Chief Deputy Assessor during the Pope era; became a judge for the Los Angeles Municipal and Superior courts.
    • Leonard J. Wheeler, Director, Real Property Appraisals; Valuations
    Post-Pope assessors marginally represented in this collection:
    • John J. Lynch, 1986-1990
    • Kenneth P. Hahn, 1990-2000 (no relation to the Los Angeles City Council member)
    Series 2: Pope: Personal, 1923-1998
    Here is found a plethora of campaign materials and administrative documents, the bulk of which come from Pope's own campaigns for assessor, L.A. County Supervisor, 4th District, and his run for the State Board of Equalization. Pope was involved in many other politicians' campaigns, with the most activity involving Adlai Stevenson's presidential runs, Pat Brown for Governor, Pat Russell for LA City Council, and Jerome R. Waldie for Governor.
    Formats include correspondence, invitations, filing papers, accounting materials, funding disclosure forms, voting statistics, campaign ephemera and mailers, press kits, agendas, speeches and debate materials. The highlight in this area may very well be an Eisenhower-Nixon comic book. Pope was involved with local Democratic clubs, but also attended national and state conventions and related materials are fully represented here.
    Pope was a consultant for the implementation of the McCone Commission report on the Los Angeles riots of 1965 and documents and articles cover related topics such as racism, welfare reform, job programs and business development. There is a wide range of transportation-related documents and publications from the years Pope served on the California Highway Commission (featuring the Mineral King development, Long Beach Freeway extension through South Pasadena) and the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners.
    During his years as L.A. County Assessor, Pope was active in developing and promoting legislation to address problem areas of Proposition 13, and other property valuation issues which are featured in the Legal and Legislative sub-series, along with litigation documents. Other Pope activities of note involve the California Assessor's Association (CAA) and the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). Pope was active in a wide range of community-based organizations including the Westchester Mental Health Clinic, the YMCA and the Los Angeles Theatre Center. Pope's lecture materials and handouts from his trip to China are also in this series, as well as his chronological and administrative files from his law practice.
    California Citizens Budget Commission, 1917-2000
    The California Citizens Budget Commission first met in 1993 under the auspices of the Center for Governmental Studies. It was a blue-ribbon panel of twenty-three non-partisan community leaders who had the goal of reforming the state's budget process and later, the state's health care system. The series consists substantially of research articles on budget and health care reform and many drafts of the Commission's reports. Administrative files were accumulated by Pope and other CCBC staff including research analyst Karen Klabin, research associate Camelia Siminescu and secretary Chanel Young.


    The Collection is organized into three series, generally based on provenance, and further divided into sub-series:
    Series 1: L.A. County Assessor's Office, 1880-1992 (bulk 1967-1986) (Boxes 1-123)
    • 1. Assessor Watson, Boxes 1-19 (1880-1987; bulk: 1973-1978)
    • 2. Assessor Pope - Administrative, Boxes 19-25 (1969-1986)
    • 3. Watson and Pope Staff, Boxes 26-91 (1938-1988; bulk: 1978-1986)
    • 4. Assessor Pope, Boxes 92-115 (1948-1991; bulk 1978-1986)
    • 5. Assessors Lynch and Hahn, Boxes 116-123 (1975-1992; bulk 1987-1989)
    Series 2: Pope: Personal, 1923-1998 (bulk 1962-1988) (Boxes 124-289)
    • 1. Pope Campaigns, Boxes 124-154 (1974-1994; bulk dates 1978-1986)
    • 2. Other Campaigns, Candidates, Boxes 155-177 (1949-1993)
    • 3. Democratic Party, Boxes 178-186 (1950-1992)
    • 4. McCone Commission, Boxes 187-193 (1965-1992; bulk: 1965-1967)
    • 5. Transportation, Boxes 194-207 (1945-1989; bulk for Calif. Highway Commission: 1965-67; bulk for Airport Commission: 1973-1987)
    • 6. Assessor's Office, Boxes 208-224 (1967-1998; bulk 1978-1987)
    • 7. Legal and Legislative, Boxes 225-247 (1959-1998; bulk 1978-1990)
    • 8. Issues and Organizations, Boxes 238-257 (1923-1992; bulk 1957-1988)
    • 9. Associations, Nonprofits, Boxes 258- 272 (1955-1992; bulk: 1983-1988)
    • 10. Personal, Boxes 273-283 (1949-1993; bulk: 1987-1988)
    • 11. Research and Development, Boxes 284-289
    Series 3: California Citizens Budget Commission, 1917-2000 (bulk 1995-2000) (Boxes 290-369)
    • 1. Administration
    • 2. Research
    • 3. Reports, Publications

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Bellino, Carmine S. (Carmine Salvatore), 1905-1990.
    Bradley, Tom, 1917-
    Brown, Edmund G. (Edmund Gerald), 1905-.
    Dana, Deane.
    Jarvis, Howard.
    Kefauver, Estes, 1903-1963.
    McCone, John A. (John Alex), 1902-1991.
    Post, A. Alan, (August Alan), 1914-.
    Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965.
    Waldie, Jerome R.
    Watson, Philip E. (Philip Eugene), 1921-.
    Westen, Tracy.
    Wheat, Frank, 1921-.
    Pope, Alexander, 1929- -- Archives.
    California. Department. of Health Services -- Archives.
    California. Division of Highways -- Archives.
    California. Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots.
    California. Highway Commission.
    California. State Board of Equalization.
    International Association of Assessing Officers.
    Los Angeles (Calif.). Board of Airport Commissioners.
    Los Angeles County (Calif.). Board of Supervisors.
    Los Angeles County (Calif.). Office of Assessor.
    Los Angeles Theatre Center.
    California Citizens Budget Commission -- Archives. .
    California Taxpayers' Association.
    Center for Governmental Studies (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Central City Association of Los Angeles (Calif.)
    Democratic National Committee (U.S.)
    Democratic Party (Calif.)
    Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs.
    League of Women Voters of Los Angeles.
    Los Angeles Actors' Theatre.
    Mayer, Brown and Platt.
    Medi-Cal Policy Institute.
    University of Chicago. Law School -- Alumni and alumnae -- Archives.
    Brown, Jerry, 1938-.
    African Americans -- Crimes against -- California -- Los Angeles.
    Airports management -- California.
    Budget process -- Calfornia.
    Campaign literature -- California -- 20th century.
    County government -- California -- Los Angeles County -- Archives.
    Health care financing -- California.
    Health care reform.
    Insurance, Health.
    Intergovernmental fiscal relations -- United States.
    International economic relations.
    Legislation -- California.
    Managed care plans (Medical care)
    Medical care -- California.
    Mental health counseling -- California.
    Nonprofit organizations -- California.
    Political campaigns -- California.
    Political parties -- Rules and practice -- California.
    Poor -- Medical care -- California.
    Property tax law -- California.
    Property tax relief -- California.
    Racism -- California -- Los Angeles.
    Real property -- California.
    Real property tax -- California -- 20th century.
    Tax and expenditure limitations -- California.
    Tax assessment -- California -- Los Angeles County.
    Transportation -- California -- 20th century.
    Watts Riot, Los Angeles, Calif., 1965 -- Sources.
    California -- Politics and government -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    California -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Mineral King (Calif.)
    Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- History -- Sources.

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Professional papers--California--20th century.
    Personal papers--California--20th century.
    Tax records -- California -- Los Angeles County.

    Index Terms Related to this Collection

    Bellino, Carmine S. (Carmine Salvatore), 1905-1990.
    Bradley, Tom, 1917-
    Brown, Edmund G, (Edmund Gerald), 1905-
    Brown, Jerry, 1938-
    Dana, Deane.
    Jarvis, Howard.
    Kefauver, Estes, 1903-1963.
    McCone, John A. (John Alex), 1902-1991.
    Post, A. Alan, (August Alan), 1914-.
    Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965.
    Waldie, Jerome R.
    Watson, Philip E. (Philip Eugene), 1921-.
    Westen, Tracy.
    Wheat, Frank, 1921-.
    California Citizens Budget Commission.
    California. Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots.
    Los Angeles County (Calif.). Office of Assessor.