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Finding aid for the Frank Lanterman papers 0222
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Preferred Citation
  • Organization
  • Inventories
  • Scope and Content
  • Biography
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Acquisition

  • Title: Frank Lanterman papers
    Collection number: 0222
    Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 31.0 Linear feet 31 banker's boxes
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1965-1978
    Date (inclusive): 1955-1978
    Abstract: The Frank Lanterman papers, 1955-1978 (bulk 1965-1978), represent a part of the legislative career of Frank Lanterman, who served in the California State Assembly from 1951 to 1978. Lanterman, who was responsible for almost 400 bills during his 28-year career, was known as California's "Father of Mental Health," a tribute to his long service as champion for the state's mentally ill community.
    creator: Lanterman, Frank

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections 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.

    Conditions Governing Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], Frank Lanterman papers, Collection no. 0222, Regional History Collection, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California


    The collection is organized into the following series:
    1) Air Pollution 2) Alcoholism 3) Boards 4) Business and Professional Healing Acts 5) Civil Law 6) Conflict of Interest 7) Constitutional Revision 8) Earthquakes 9) Elections 10) Government 11) Health & Welfare 12) Highways 13) Judicial 14) Labor 15) Public Works 16) Medi-Cal 17) Motor Vehicles 18) Noise 19) Penal Code 20) Public Records 21) Public Utilities 22) Rapid Transit 23) Retirement 24) Revenue and Taxation 25) Schools 26) Special Classes (Schools) 27) Higher Education 28) Transportation 29) Veterans 30) Water 31) Mental Health


    A preliminary inventory for the collection was created in August 1986 by Lana Beckett. In August 1990 Dace Taube, currently Regional History Librarian, updated the inventory. This latter inventory was used as a basis for the current inventory, which was created by Michael Hooks and assisted by students Ajay Govada, Libet Chang Stanhope, and Carly Rustebakke.

    Scope and Content

    The Frank Lanterman papers, 1955-1978 (bulk 1965-1978), is a collection that consists of a part of the legislative files created by Frank Lanterman, a Southern Californian who served in the California State Assembly from 1951-1978. The collection includes correspondence, legislation, reports, and speeches. Reflecting Lanterman's strong interest in mental health issues and documenting his concern for the mentally ill, over 60 per cent of the files in the collection fall within the series titled Mental Health. Subseries within include such topics as community care, electroshock, conservatorship, probate and guardianship, criminal offenders, minors, patients' rights, and state hospitals. As might be expected, a number of files are devoted to the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, legislation that Lanterman co-authored with California State Senators Nicholas Petris and Alan Short. This act, which the Assembly passed in 1967 and which became fully implemented in 1972, focused on the issue of the involuntary civil commitment of individuals to mental health institutions in California. With its passage, the Act is credited with setting the standard for commitment procedures across the nation. Files on other legislative topics important to Lanterman are included in the collection as well. Among these are files on governmental affairs, public works, revenue and taxation, schools, and water resources.


    Frank Lanterman was born November 4, 1901, in Los Angeles, California, into a family whose arrival in the city dated back to 1875. He studied music at the University of Southern California's (USC) School of Music but did not graduate. He tried to make a career in the movie industry playing musical accompaniment to silent movies. But the family business required his attention, and he turned to managing their landholdings.
    Although a successful businessman, Lanterman entered politics because of a legal dispute over water rights. Elected to the California State Assembly at the age of 49, Lanterman served fourteen consecutive two-year terms (1951-1978) representing first, the 48th Assembly District, which became the 47th Assembly District, and finally redrawn as the 42nd Assembly District. He was a member of the Republican Party throughout his legislative career, and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in both 1964 and 1968.
    The Assemblyman's first notable legislative contribution was to co-author the Municipal Water District Act (1951). With this legislation, the Foothill Municipal Water District was created to service the communities of La Canada, La Crescenta, and Altadena in Southern California.
    Lanterman was best known for his co-authorship of the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, with Nicholas Petris and Alan Short, both members of the California State Senate. This act, which the Assembly passed in 1967 and which became fully implemented in 1972, focused on the issue of the involuntary civil commitment of individuals to mental health institutions in California. With its passage, the Act is credited with setting the standard for commitment procedures across the nation.
    During his legislative career, he authored or co-authored almost 400 bills. He served as chairman of the Assembly's Ways & Means Committee from 1969-1970. He was known as California's "Father of Mental Health," a tribute to his long service in the California State Assembly as champion for the state's mentally ill community.
    In recognition of his contributions to the mental health community, the Assemblyman’s name is associated with the Frank D. Lanterman High School in Los Angeles, a special education placement high school; the Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center in Los Angeles, a private non-profit corporation that serves those with developmental disabilities; and the Lanterman Developmental Center in Pomona, which is operated by the California Department of Developmental Services. In addition, a portion of State Route 2 is called the Frank D. Lanterman Freeway in his honor. Also, he received a honorary Doctor of Laws degree from USC in 1973.
    Lanterman passed away in April 1981.

    Related Archival Materials

    See also:
    1) California Legislative Leaders: Oral History Transcript and Related Material, 1977-1981, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
    2) California State Government Oral Histories, California State Archives.


    The date of acquisition is unknown. But judging from available correspondence, the materials were located at USC as early as 1979.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    California. Legislature. Assembly. -- Archives
    Lanterman, Frank -- Archives
    Air--Pollution--California--Archival resources
    Alcohol--Law and legislation--California--Archival resources
    California--Politics and government--20th century--Archival resources
    Education, Higher--California--Archival resources
    Educational law and legislation--California--Archival resources
    Labor laws and legislation--California--Archival resources
    Mental health laws--California--Archival resources
    Mental health services--California--Archival resources
    Motor vehicles--California--Archival resources
    Noise control--Law and legislation--California--Archival resources
    Politicians--California--Archival resources
    Public works--California--Archival resources
    Speeches, addresses, etc., American--20th century--Archival resources
    Taxation--Law and legislation--California--Archival resources
    Transportation--California--20th century--Archival resources
    Transportation--Law and legislation--California--Archival resources
    Water resources development--California--Archival resources