Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Picus (Joy) Collection
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical Information:
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Electronic Format:
  • Conditions Governing Access:
  • Conditions Governing Use:
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Preferred Citation:
  • Processing Information:

  • Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Joy Picus Collection
    Creator: Picus, Joy, 1973-1993
    Identifier/Call Number: URB.JPC
    Extent: 15.30 linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1972-2001
    Date (bulk): 1973-1993
    Abstract: A native of Chicago, Joy Picus was the first female member of the Los Angeles City Council from the San Fernando Valley. Elected to the seat in 1977, during her four terms in office she worked on pay equity, childcare and family leave, and environmental and educational issues. The collection documents these efforts and also preserves: administrative records; materials from her election campaigns; publicity, speeches, and news clippings; and publications and notes related to the committees on which she served.
    Language of Material: English

    Biographical Information:

    Joy Picus (née Newberger) was born on November 18, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. Her father died shortly after she was born, and her mother, Daisy, supported the family by managing an apartment complex. Picus graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1951 with a degree in political science. Following completion of her degree, she returned to Chicago where she met Gerald Picus, and the couple were married on March 9, 1952. In 1959, the Picus family moved to California, where Gerald worked as a physicist for Hughes Aircraft. They raised three children in Woodland Hills, where she served as community organizer and volunteer for several organizations, among them the Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, the League of Women Voters, the Association of University Women, the Jewish Federation Council, and the PTA.
    Joy Picus was inspired to political activism after reading second wave feminist Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, and carries the distinction of being the first woman Los Angeles City council member from the San Fernando Valley. She ran for the 3rd district seat on the Los Angeles City Council in 1973, losing by 500 votes to the incumbent, Don Lorenzen, but won with 57% of the vote in 1977. Her campaign had a strong grassroots character, depending on volunteers to make calls and walk precincts in her support, and relying on personal donors rather than corporate sponsors, particularly in the early stages of her career. One of her major achievements was her successful effort to raise wages for jobs with the city that were traditionally held by women. Picus accomplished this goal without a strike or litigation, by working with the City of Los Angeles and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. For this accomplishment, Ms. Magazine honored her as one of twelve Women of the Year in 1985.
    Among Picus' most important achievements is her work with local police to sponsor legislation aimed at making Lanark Park, which had been used as a base for drug dealers, safe for the general public again. She also wrote child care policy for the city and supported family leave for city employees. Environmental issues which she addressed during her four terms included hazardous waste site clean up, household toxic waste disposal, city recycling for apartments and condominiums, and the lack of sufficient park space in her district. She considered education, especially for young women, to be an important issue; she sponsored several related programs, including the Susan B. Anthony essay contest, which supported high school girls' efforts to expand and reach their educational goals.
    Picus' time in office was not without controversy. In 1979, she faced a recall sponsored by Valley apartment owners, in response to her support for a temporary rent control ordinance, but the recall failed due to a lack of petition signatures. Police and firefighters' unions supported her opponent in the 1981 election due to her successful efforts to eliminate city employees' pay for attending functions such as veteran's conventions. Encino residents criticized her in 1987 for permitting the development of a business park in the Sepulveda Basin, and in 1991, Warner Ridge Associates sued Picus and two other council members and the city for the council's rezoning of property to block the development of an office complex in Woodland Hills. Despite these challenges, Picus won re-election three times. In 1993, she lost her seat on the council to her former employee Laura Chick. Now retired, she and her husband currently live in Reseda, California, where she continues to work as a community activist.

    Scope and Contents

    The Joy Picus Collection documents Picus' five election campaigns and her work as member of the Los Angeles City Council from 1977 to 1993. Contents document her efforts to eliminate wage discrepancy between men and women working for the City of Los Angeles, to provide childcare and family leave time for working parents, to help students, especially young women, reach their educational goals, to control hazardous waste and encourage recycling, and to increase park space in her district. Materials include records of public appearances, promotional materials, maps, pamphlets, and audiovisual materials. The collection has been divided into four major series: Administrative Records (1978-1995), Campaign Materials and Election Results (1973-1993), Publicity and Memorabilia (1972-1993) and Issues, Committees, and Public Appearances (1973-2001).
    Series I, Administrative Records, documents the financial and administrative functions of Picus' office. Materials include budgets and check requisition forms, expenses for and correspondence related to audits of Picus' campaigns, as well as the audits themselves, tax returns, proposals and plans for city council redistricting, registration forms and letters of support for her congressional candidacy, manuals for her staff, newsletters to her constituents, notes for ethics commission meetings, and statements of economic interest.
    Series II, Campaign Materials and Election Results, documents Picus' five campaigns for election to the city council. Materials include research on her opponents, polls conducted on her behalf, precinct maps, and election results. Also included are invitations to fundraising parties and post-campaign celebrations, letters of endorsement from individuals and interest groups, instructions to precinct walkers and phone survey staff, door hangers, photographs of campaign appearances, letters of congratulation and copies of her responses, and video of her 1989 inaugural ceremony. The files are arranged alphabetically by subject and chronologically within.
    Series III, Publicity and Memorabilia, consists mostly of publicity during Picus' five campaigns and her time in office. Materials include newspaper clippings, most of them from The Los Angeles Times, The Herald Examiner (Los Angeles), and The Daily News (Van Nuys), transcripts of radio editorials, publicity photographs and videotapes of appearances on local and national news shows. Memorabilia includes promotional materials for citywide events which took place during her time on the city council, as well as keepsakes and souvenirs from her offices. The files are arranged alphabetically by subject and chronologically within.
    Series IV, Issues, Committees, and Public Appearances, includes information gathered by Picus and her staff on issues important to her constituency, and materials pertaining to committees dealing with those issues. Issues represented in this series include childcare and leave policy for working parents, increasing park space in the 3 rd District, reclaiming public space from drug dealers, public transportation, recycling and hazardous waste cleanup, pay equity, term limits, and women in government. Materials related to these issues include drafts for and copies of speeches, meeting notes by Picus and her staff, pamphlets, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and video recordings and photographs of interviews. The files are arranged alphabetically by subject and chronologically within.

    Arrangement of Materials:

    Series I: Administrative Records, 1978-1995
    Series II: Campaign Materials and Election Results, 1973-1993
    Series III: Publicity, Promotional Materials, and Memorabilia, 1972-1993
    Series IV: Issues, Committees, and Public Appearances, 1973-2001

    Electronic Format:

    Digital reproductions of selected items in this collection are available electronically as a part of the San Fernando Valley History Digital Library  .

    Conditions Governing Access:

    This collection is open for research use.

    Conditions Governing Use:

    Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Joy Picus, 02/2010

    Preferred Citation:

    For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials  guide.

    Processing Information:

    Philip Walsh, 2016

    Subjects and Indexing Terms