Guide to the Judge Earl Ben Gilliam Papers

Finding Aid Authors: Jessica Guardado.
© Copyright 2012 Special Collections & University Archives. All rights reserved.
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
Phone: 619-594-6791

Guide to the Judge Earl Ben Gilliam Papers 1945/2011

Special Collections & University Archives

Overview of the Collection

Collection Title: Judge Earl Ben Gilliam Papers
Dates: 1945-2011
Bulk Dates: 1965-1981
Identification: MS-0494
Creator: Judge Earl B. Gilliam, 1931-2001
Physical Description: 10.84 linear ft
Language of Materials: English
Repository: Special Collections & University Archives
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
Phone: 619-594-6791

Biographical Information:

Earl Ben Gilliam was born in Clovis, New Mexico on August 17, 1931. At age 10, Gilliam and his parents, James Earl and Lula Mae Gooden Gilliam, moved to San Diego. Gilliam attended Memorial Jr. High and San Diego High School where he played football and ran track. He graduated high school in 1949 and then attended San Diego State College where he studied business with an emphasis in accounting and a minor in economics. During college, Gilliam helped to establish the Delta Epsilon Chapter of KAP Fraternity. In 1953, he was accepted to Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and passed his Bar Examination in 1957. In the 1940’s, Gilliam’s family had opened the Seafood Louisiana Market on Imperial Avenue where Gilliam worked as a clerk during high school, college, and while on vacation from law school. While in law school, he also worked as a janitor and a playground director. Gilliam married Barbara Jean Crawford in 1956 and had two children, Kenneth Earl and Derrick James Gilliam. Gilliam and Barbara Jean divorced in 1975.
Gilliam began practicing law in 1957 as a deputy district attorney and entered into private practice in 1961. In 1963, he became the first African American Judge of the Municipal Court in San Diego County. In 1975, he was elevated by Governor Jerry Brown to the U.S. Superior Court. Afterwards, President Jimmy Carter appointed Gilliam to the federal bench of the United States District Court of Southern California.
Besides his legal practice, Gilliam gave much of his time to serving the San Diego community. He was active in the following organizations: Traffic Committee for the California State Bar Association; National Association for the Advanced Colored People (NAACP); Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA); Senior Housing Charity; Salvation Army; Boys’ Club; Urban League; Navy League; Southeast Chamber of Commerce; and the Junior Chamber of Commerce. He was also a law instructor for ten years at Western State College.
Gilliam received many awards and accolades from the community. In 1981, he was the recipient of the Golden Man and Boy Award for the Boys’ Club of San Diego. Additionally, the Association of Black Attorneys of San Diego County changed their name to the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association in 1982 in honor of his professional accomplishments as an African American lawyer and judge. After Gilliam’s death, the city named the Imperial Avenue post office in Gilliam’s name.
In 1978, Gilliam met his second wife, Rebecca Prater. They married in 1993. After two weeks of marriage, Gilliam had elective heart surgery. Complications during the surgery left him paralyzed and dialysis-dependent. Gilliam then retired to Senior Judge Status and continued his legal work part-time. Earl Ben Gilliam passed away on January 28, 2001. Upon his death a sculpture of him was placed at the San Diego Court’s Hall of Justice.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Topical Term:

African American civic leaders -- California -- San Diego -- Biography -- Sources
African Americans -- California -- San Diego

Administrative Information



Conditions Governing Use:

The copyright interests in some of these materials have been transferred to or belong to San Diego State University. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections means that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish.  Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

Conditions Governing Access:

This colleciton is open for research.

Preferred Citation:

Identification of item, folder title, box number, Judge Earl B. Gilliam Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.

Related Materials:

Alpha Pi Boulé Records
Reverend George Walker Smith Papers
Carlin Integration Case Records
Citizen Coordinate for Century 3 Records
Harold K. Brown Papers, 1956-2000

Arrangement of Materials:

I.   Personal Files (1946-1999)
II.  Professional Files (1956-2011)
III. Memorial Files (2001)
IV. Scrapbooks (1945-2001)
V.  Audio/Video Files (1979-2004)

Scope and Contents

The Earl B. Gilliam Papers document five decades of Gilliam’s career as a judge in San Diego County. The collection includes news clippings, photos, correspondence, invitations, federal bench nominations, court cases, class notes, scrapbooks, award certificates, court dockets, and judicial questionnaires.  The majority of the material dates from around the 1940’s to the late 1990's, and highlights Gilliam’s community service, as well as his appointments to local, state, and federal judgeships.  The collection is divided into five series:  Personal Files (1945-1999), Professional Files (1956-2011), Memorial Files (2001), Scrapbooks (1945-2001), and Video Files (1979-2004).
The Personal Files (1945-1999) document Gilliam’s high school experience and achievements, as well as his community involvement. This series includes personal photographs of his childhood, friends’ memorial programs, San Diego High School programs, personal correspondence, certificates of achievement, the Sun Reporter newspaper, the Lighthouse newspaper, the San Diego Observer newspaper, and materials regarding Gilliam’s hospitalization in the 1990’s. The files are arranged in alphabetical order with minimal documentation regarding his early childhood.
The Professional Files (1956-2011) largely document Gilliam’s career as a municipal court and federal bench judge. The series includes congratulatory correspondence, court dockets, appointment books, news clippings, biography for federal judgeship, courtroom procedures, judicial questionnaires, photographs, federal bench petition, retirement documents from U.S. District Judgeship, and judicial application. Highlights include correspondence and news clippings of Gilliam’s appointment to the federal bench. The series is arranged alphabetically by folder title.
The Memorial Files (2001) document Gilliam’s passing. These files include letters of condolence, obituaries, and information regarding funeral arrangements gathered by Gilliam’s wife, Rebecca Prater. These files are the smallest of the series and are arranged alphabetically.
The Scrapbook Files (1945-2001) consist of five scrapbooks, two of which that document a trial of 197 counts of federal tax evasion and fraud by Nancy Hoover Hunter. The files include newspaper clippings and correspondence regarding the trial. Much of the correspondence is unsupportive of Gilliam’s final verdict. The rest of the scrapbooks include news clippings of Gilliam’s appointments from Municipal Judge to Federal Bench judge, news articles of personal interest, and personal photographs.
The Video Files (1979-2004) contain video tributes to Gilliam, reunion ceremonies, an interview of Gilliam on audio cassette tape, and oral histories. The series is in chronological order.

Detailed List of Contents


Personal Files (1945-1999)

Box 1, Folder 1

Alpha Pi Boulé Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity 1965-2002

Box 1, Folder 2

Bar Examination Pass Letter November 29, 1957

Box 1, Folder 3

Biographical Information

Box 1, Folder 4

Biographical Sketches and Resumes

Box 1, Folder 5

Boys' Club of San Diego Gourmet Dinner Benefit 1981-1987

Box 1, Folder 6

Boys and Girls Club 1989-1991

Box 1, Folder 7

California Center for Judicial Education and Research: Certificate 1974,1978

Box 1, Folder 8

Catfish Club 1995

Box 1, Folder 9

Certificates 1966-1976, 1980;1995

Box 1, Folder 10

City Council Adjournment in Memory of James Earl Gilliam August 29, 1974

Box 1, Folder 11

College and Law School Transcripts

Box 1, Folder 12

Correspondence: African Arts Committee April 3, 1987

Box 1, Folder 13

Correspondence: Personal 1975-1993

Box 1, Folder 14

Distinguished Alumni Awards, San Diego State University College of Business Administration

Box 1, Folder 15

"Facts About Blacks" Pamphlet 1980-1981

Box 1, Folder 16

Fifty-Second Anniversary Citation Dinner June 11, 1980

Box 1, Folder 17

Fight for Freedom Celebration June 26, 1957

Box 1, Folder 18

"For the Love of Earl" September 9, 1994

Box 1, Folder 19

Funeral Programs of Deseaced Friends 1995-1999

Box 1, Folder 20

Gilliam, Lula Mae 1977-1988

Box 1, Folder 21

Hastings College of Law: Acceptance Letters and Correspondence 1953-1957

Box 1, Folder 22

Hastings Community Commencement 1993

Box 1, Folder 23

Hospitalization 1994

Box 2, Folder 1

Just the Beginning Foundation (JTBF) November 19, 2001

Box 2, Folder 2

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Certificate August 22, 1951

Box 2, Folder 3

Lousiana Seafood Market 1954-1955, 1962

Box 2, Folder 4

Mailing List

Box 2, Folder 5

Correspondence: "Oustanding Man of the Year Award" 1966

Box 2, Folder 6

Memorial Junior High School - Promotional Services June 20, 1946

Box 2, Folder 7

Memorial Services of the late James Earl Gilliam August 26, 1974

Box 2, Folder 8

Naval Training Center Guest of Honor at the Recruit Brigade Review 1971

Box 2, Folder 9

Navy Guest Cruise, USS Kitty Hawk July 7-12, 1965

Box 2, Folder 10

Navy Guest Cruise, USS Kitty Hawk July 7-12, 1965

Box 2, Folder 11

Newsclippings: Personal 1946, 1995-1999

Box 2, Folder 12

"Personal Reflection on Thirty Years of Legal Education for Minority Students" by Harry T. Edwards

Box 2, Folder 13

Photograph Album 1986

Box 2, Folder 14

Photographs: Jerusalem

Box 3, Folder 1

Photographs: Jenco and the Dead Sea

Box 3, Folder 2

Photographs: Judge Turrentine's Birthday Party 1984

Box 3, Folder 3

Photographs: Mount of Olives

Box 3, Folder 4

Photographs and Negatives: Alps

Box 3, Folder 5

Photographs and Negatives: Geneva, Germany, Israel

Box 3, Folder 6

Photographs and Negatives: Unidentified

Box 3, Folder 7

Photographs: Personal

Box 3, Folder 8

Photographs: Tiberia

Box 3, Folder 9

Photogrpahs: U.S. Naval Training Center, 1969

Box 3, Folder 10

Presidential Inaugural Committee January 20, 1993

Box 3, Folder 11

Proclamation Earl B. Gilliam Day October 29, 1994

Box 3, Folder 12

San Diego Black History Calendar 1985

Box 3, Folder 13

San Diego County Black Chamber of Commerce - 20th Century Excellency Awards March 4, 1995

Box 3, Folder 14

San Diego High School 1948-1949

Box 3, Folder 15

San Diego High School Football Programs 1947-1948

Box 3, Folder 16

San Diego High School Foundation, 1995

Box 3, Folder 17

San Diego High School Homecoming 1974

Box 3, Folder 18

San Diego High School, The Russ Newspaper

Box 3, Folder 19

San Diego High School Yearbook 1949

Box 3, Folder 20

San Miguel Memorial Junior High School 1946

Box 3, Folder 21

Sawyer, Kenneth: Drawings (Former Police Officer)

Box 3, Folder 22

Southeast Awareness and Support Coalition Testimonial Dinner for Earl B. Gilliam January 30, 1976

Box 3, Folder 23

Special Tribute Dinners 1994-1995

Box 4, Folder 1


Box 4, Folder 2

Speech for Martin Luther King Junior Assembly at Patrick Henry High School January 14, 1993

Box 4, Folder 3

University of Oklahoma 68th Annual Commencement June 5, 1960

Box 4, Folder 4

United States Ship Volador (SS490) December 11, 1964

Box 4, Folder 5

Victories of Spirit Sharp Healthcare Rehabilitation Services - Patient Achievement

Box 4, Folder 6

W.J. Oakes Boys and Girls Club Alumni Association 2003

Box 4, Folder 7

"We had a Dream: Contributions of Black Americans" 1976

Box 4, Folder 8

"What the San Diego Negro is Thinking" San Diego and Point Magazine September 1965

Box 4, Folder 9

Young Man of the Year Award 1966

Box 15

The Ebony Tribune, v.2, no. 2 November 13, 1987

Box 15

The San Diego Light House, v.16, no.12 June 21, 1957

Box 15

The San Diego Light House, v.16, no.19 August 16, 1957

Box 15

The San Diego Light House, v. 16, no.1920 November 8, 1957

Box 15

The San Diego Light House, v. 16, no.24 December 6, 1957

Box 15

The San Diego Observer, v.2, no.49 December 7, 1957

Box 15

The Sun Reporter v.15, no.46 December 7, 1957


Professional Files (1956-2011)

Box 4, Folder 10

Annual Bar Dinner Committee 1981

Box 4, Folder 11

Annual Western Traffic Court Conference January 20-24, 1964

Box 4, Folder 12

Anecdotes about Gilliam for San Diego Lawyer Magazine 2001

Box 4, Folder 13

Appointments of African-American Article Judges 2001

Box 4, Folder 14

Appointment to Federal Judge 1980

Box 4, Folder 15

Articles of Partnership of BI-RA Company: A General Partnership Agreement July 1965

Box 4, Folder 16

Assemblyman Larry Stirling

Box 4, Folder 17

Dicta: The Lawyer's Magazine June 1974, November 1978

Box 4, Folder 18

California Association of Black Lawyers 1980-1998

Box 4, Folder 19

California Bar Examination Questions September 1957

Box 4, Folder 20

Certificates 1980

Box 4, Folder 21

Conflict of Laws: Class Notes 1956

Box 4, Folder 22

Conflict of Laws: Class Notes 1956

Box 5, Folder 1

Conflict of Laws: Class Notes 1956

Box 5, Folder 2

Correspondence 1949-2001

Box 5, Folder 3

Correspondence: Congratulation letters for Superior Court Judge 1975

Box 5, Folder 4

Correspondence: Congratulation letters for Federal Bench 1978-1980

Box 5, Folder 5

Correspondence: Congratulation letters for Federal Bench 1980

Box 5, Folder 6

Correspondence: Congratulation letters for Federal Bench 1980

Box 5, Folder 7

Correspondence: Congratulation letters for Federal Bench 1980-1981

Box 6

Court Docket of Judge Earl B. Gilliam: Municipal Court, no.3 April 17, 1964

Box 7

Court Docket of Judge Earl B. Gilliam, v.3 April 4, 1977-June 15, 1978

Box 7

Court Docket of Judge Earl B. Gilliam, v.4 June 16, 1978-February 13, 1980

Box 8

Court Docket of Judge Earl B. Gilliam, v.5 February 4-June 5, 1980

Box 8

Court Docket of Judge Earl B. Gilliam, v.6 June 6-August 27, 1980

Box 9, Folder 1

Correspondence: Letters from San Diego Court to Gilliam while in Hospital 1993-1994

Box 9, Folder 2

Correspondence: Regarding "Formal Induction Ceremonies" 1980

Box 9, Folder 3

Correspondence: Support Letters for Federal Bench 1979-1980

Box 9, Folder 4

Correspondence: Thank You Letters for Earl B. Gilliam 1979-1980

Box 9, Folder 5

Court Cases 1978-1993

Box 9, Folder 6

Court Decisions with Judge Gilliam's Notes 1978-1980

Box 9, Folder 7

Directory of Black Judges, Black Lawyers and Black Bar Associations 1970

Box 9, Folder 8

Earl B. Gilliam and Geraldine Moses Community Access Law Library 1995

Box 9, Folder 9

Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association 1995-2008

Box 10, Folder 1

Earl B. Gilliam: Class Notes 1954

Box 10, Folder 2

Earl B. Gilliam Moot Courtroom Dedication - Thomas Jefferson School of Law 2011

Box 10, Folder 3

Earl B. Gilliam Post Office Dedication; Hall of Justice Earl B. Gilliam Bust 2002-2008

Box 10, Folder 4

"Federal Bench Candidates" - U.S. Senator Alan Cranston Reports to Californians August 1979

Box 10, Folder 5

Federal Bench Materials 1974-1979

Box 10, Folder 6

For the Defense Magazine November 1993

Box 10, Folder 7

Federation of Women Lawyers' Judicial Screening Panel Information Request Response

Box 10, Folder 8

Grand Jury Nominations 1980

Box 10, Folder 9

Information Sheet on Courtroom Procedures to Clerk 1980

Box 10, Folder 10

Instructional Manual for Statements of Economic Interests Form 721 1979

Box 10, Folder 11

Judicial Council of the National Bar Association, 31st Annual Meeting July 31, 2002

Box 10, Folder 12

Judicial Questionnaires and Nominations for Federal Bench 1979

Box 10, Folder 13

Judge Artemis Henderson's Federal Appointment Application 1978

Box 10, Folder 14

Judge Earl B. Gilliam Address Book

Box 10, Folder 15

Judge Earl B. Gilliam Appointment Book 1976

Box 11, Folder 1

Judge Earl B. Gilliam Appointment Book 1977

Box 11, Folder 2

Judge Earl B. Gilliam Appointment Book 1978

Box 11, Folder 3

Judge Earl B. Gilliam Appointment Book 1979

Box 11, Folder 4

Judge Earl B. Gilliam Guestbook 1964

Box 11, Folder 5

Judge Gilliam's New Address as a U.S. District Judge August 28, 1980

Box 11, Folder 6

Judge Retirement Fund 1962-1966

Box 11, Folder 7

Kappa Alpha Psi, Testimonial Dinner Honoring Black Judges of San Diego County July 19, 1980

Box 11, Folder 8

List of Judges Based on Seniority April 12, 1965

Box 11, Folder 9

Legal Professional of the Year Award 1994

Box 12, Folder 1

Materials for Federal Judgeship and Draft 1975-1980

Box 12, Folder 2

Municipal Court Appointment News Release 1963

Box 12, Folder 3

Municipal Court Sponsor's Certificate, Campaign Form, and Contributions 1972

Box 12, Folder 4

National Bar Association 12th Annual Hall of Fame Luncheon July 31, 1998

Box 12, Folder 5

Newsclippings 1961-1969

Box 12, Folder 6

Newsclippings 1963-1976

Box 12, Folder 7

Newsclippings 1986-1988

Box 12, Folder 8

Newsclippings 1964-1993

Box 12, Folder 9

Newsclippings 1960-1999

Box 12, Folder 10

Newsletter: Federal Lawyer, vol. 25, no. 1 July, 1993

Box 12, Folder 11

Nursing and the Law 1984

Box 12, Folder 12

Osuna, Jesse - County Clerk 1972

Box 12, Folder 13

Outstanding Alumnus Award Plaque from San Diego State University 1979-1980

Box 12, Folder 14

Personal Opinion KGTV 10 San Diego Confirmation of Judge Earl B. Gilliam

Box 12, Folder 15

Petition of Earl B. Gilliam and Newsclippings for Federal Bench 1978-1984

Box 12, Folder 16

Photographs: Professional 1972

Box 13, Folder 1

Photographs: Professional 1975-1994

Box 13, Folder 2

Practice Court Cases March 10, 1992

Box 13, Folder 3

Record of Jury Seating 1983

Box 13, Folder 4

Reference List

Box 13, Folder 5

Resumes for Secretarial Position 1977-1979

Box 13, Folder 6

Retirement from U.S. District Judgeship Due to Disability 1993

Box 13, Folder 7

The San Diego Urban League Incorporated

Box 13, Folder 8

San Diego 200th Anniversary Calendar of Events April 1969

Box 13, Folder 9

Schedule of Real Estate owned by Earl B. Gilliam

Box 13, Folder 10


Box 13, Folder 11

Seminar for Newly Appointed U.S. District Judge January 13-19, 1980

Box 13, Folder 12

Spirits in Stone Galleries - Retirement Gift, 1994

Box 13, Folder 13


Box 13, Folder 14

Thomas Jefferson School of Law 1996, 2001-2002

Box 13, Folder 15

Travel Voucher December 6, 1975

Box 13, Folder 16

U.S. District Court, Southern of California: Criminal Case March 10, 1989

Box 13, Folder 17

U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary - Commission on Judicial Qualifications

Box 14, Folder 1

Worthington, Tracey - Judicial Application 2000

Box 14, Folder 2

Witness List - Confirmation Hearings May 15, 1980

Box 20

Court Docket of Judge Earl B. Gilliam, v.1 January 5-October 12, 1976

Box 21

Court Docket of Judge Earl B. Gilliam, v.2 October 13, 1976-April 1, 1977


Memorial Files (2001)

Box 14, Folder 3

Letters of Condelence 2001

Box 14, Folder 4

Obituaries 2001

Box 14, Folder 5

In Memoriams 2001

Box 14, Folder 6

Funeral Arrangements 2001


Scrapbook Files (1945-2001)

Box 14, Folder 7

Scrapbook: Photos and News clippings

Box 14, Folder 8

Scrapbook: Photos and News clippings

Box 16

Photograph: Homeroom Class

Box 16

Photograph: "Just the Beginning" A Celebration of the Intergration of the Federal Judiciary September 19, 1992

Box 16

Photograph: The Fourth - Just the Beginning Foundation Conference September 28-October 1, 2000

Box 16

Scrapbook: Newsclippings Of Earl Ben Gilliam 1964

Box 17

Scrapbook: Newsclippings 1944

Box 17

Scrapbook: Nancy Hoover Hunter Trial Newsclippings, Part 1 1989

Box 18

Scrapbook: Nancy Hoover Hunter Trial Newsclippings, Part 2 1989

Box 18

Scrapbook: U.S. District Judge 1979


Audio/Video Files (1979-2004)

Box 19

Tribute to Honorable Earl B Gilliam October 1994

Box 19

Earl B. Gilliam Van Benefit September 1994

Box 19

Earl B. Gilliam Oral History March 1995

Box 19

Sharp Healthcare Foundation "Victories of Spirit Awards" May 11, 1995

Box 19

San Diego Reunion 1997

Box 19

Home Going Celebration of the Honorable Earl B. Gilliam February 6, 2001

Box 19

Gilliam Bar 30th Association

Box 19

Paul Harvey-KSON-AM: Judge Earl B. Gilliam June 28, 1979

Box 19

California Association of Black Lawyers Pioneers

Box 19

Channel 8 Interview before Victory of Spirit Awards Dinner

Box 19

Bob Filnder/Earl Ben Gilliam Post Office Speech November, 17, 2004

Box 19

The Heart of San Diego: Guest Honorable Earl B. Gilliam

Scope and Contents