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Inventory of the Nicholas C. Petris Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Accruals
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Collections at the California State Archives
  • Oral History

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Inventory of the Nicholas C. Petris Papers
    Dates: 1959-1996
    Collection numbers: LP318
    Creator: Petris, Nicholas
    Collection Size: 51 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: Nicholas (Nick) C. Petris, Democrat, was a State Assembly Member, 1959-1966, and a State Senator, 1967-1996. The Nicholas C. Petris Papers consist of 51 cubic feet of records covering 1959-1996. The collection is organized into four series: Bill Files, Subject Files, Press Releases, and Videotapes and Audiotapes.
    Physical location: California State Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Administrative Information


    While the majority of the records are open for research, any access restrictions are noted in the record series descriptions.

    Publication Rights

    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 collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Nicholas C. Petris Papers, LP318:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition History

    The Nicholas Petris papers were donated to the California State Archives following his term in the State Legislature.


    Nicholas (Nick) C. Petris, Democrat, was a State Assembly Member, 1959-1966, and a State Senator, 1967-1996. He represented Alameda County's Assembly District 15 until 1966, when he was elected Senator. During his first ten years in the Senate, Petris represented Senate District 11, which covered Alameda County at large. Following redistricting in 1976, he represented Senate District 9, which now included parts of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, including the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, and Emeryville. He held that post until 1996, when term limits forced him to retire.
    Nicholas Petris was born on February 25, 1923 in Oakland, California, the son of Greek immigrants. Petris' family spoke Greek in the home, and he did not learn English until he started school. After graduating from McClymonds High School in Oakland he attended the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated in 1943 with a degree in Journalism, and served three years in the U.S. Army Anti Aircraft Artillery during World War II. Petris then went on to attend Stanford Law School. He was admitted to the State Bar in 1949 and opened his own law office in Oakland. During this time he also served on the Redevelopment Agency of Oakland, the Social Service Bureau, the Oakland Council of Churches, and the Alameda County Council on Social Planning. It was also during this time that he became involved in Democratic Party politics.
    As a legislator, he was Vice Chairman of the California Democratic Council, a member of the Governor's Advisory Committee on the Chile-California Program, and the San Francisco Bay Conservation Study Commission. In addition, he was Director of the YMCA Youth Legislature, member of the Native Sons of the Golden West, on the board of the Anatolia College in Thesolanika, Greece, President of the Greek Orthodox Church of Oakland, President of Modern Greek Studies Foundation in San Francisco, President of the Greek Orthodox Church of Oakland, Ecumenical Patriarchate, Order of St. Andrew, Commander, Order of the Phoenix, Republic of Greece.
    Petris' legislative career reflected his strong dedication to health care, the environment, labor issues, and public safety. He co-authored the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (1969) that mandated civil rights for the mentally ill, as well as introducing bills that would have banned DDT and limited cars to one per family. Other legislation he championed mandated car seats for children, banned smoking on airplanes, and limited filling of San Francisco Bay. One of his proudest achievements was sponsoring a bill that created kidney dialysis centers, which have saved thousands of lives.
    Petris was proud of his Greek heritage, and remained a prominent member of the Greek community throughout his career. He was also known for being a staunch liberal and an eloquent, compelling public speaker.
    During his term in the legislature, Nicholas Petris was a member of the following committees:
    California State Assembly, 1959-1966
    Standing Committees
    Constitutional Amendments, 1965-1966
    Criminal Procedure, 1959-1962
    Vice chair, 1959-1960
    Elections and Reapportionment, 1959-1966
    Chair, 1961-1962
    Government Organization, 1961-1962
    Vice Chair
    Judiciary, 1963-1964
    Revenue and Taxation, 1959-1966
    Chair, 1963-1966
    Transportation and Commerce, 1959-1960
    Ways and Means, 1961-1966
    Assessment Practices, 1965-1966
    Campaign Practices, 1965-1966
    Correctional Facilities, 1961-1962
    Economic Development, 1963-1964
    Electronic Data Processing, 1963-1964
    General Studies, 1965-1966
    Health, Education and Welfare Services, 1965-1966
    Income Taxation, 1961-1962
    Institutions, 1963-1964
    Long Range Budgeting, 1963-1964
    Mental Health, 1963-1966
    Revenue Sources, 1961-1962
    State Purchasing, 1961-1962
    Tax Administration, 1961-1962
    Tax Exemptions, 1961-1962
    Tourist Trade, 1961-1962
    California State Senate, 1967-1996
    Standing Committees
    Budget and Fiscal Review, 1985-1996
    Constitutional Amendments, 1995-1996
    Elections and Reapportionment, 1971-1974
    Finance, 1975-1984
    Health and Welfare, 1970
    Housing and Urban Affairs, 1983-1989
    Industrial Relations, 1984-1996
    Judiciary, 1970-1976, 1981-1996
    Vice Chair, 1970-1976
    Labor, 1967-1968
    Labor and Social Welfare, 1969
    Local Government, 1968-1969, 1971-1974
    Natural Resources, 1967-1969
    Vice Chair, 1969
    Natural Resources and Wildlife, 1970
    Public Health and Safety, 1967
    Public Utilities and Corporations, 1969
    Revenue and Taxation, 1968-1980, 1985-1989, 1995-1996
    Vice Chair, 1977-1978
    Rules, 1975-1996
    Social Welfare, 1968
    Toxics and Public Safety Management, 1995-1996
    Water Resources, 1967, 1970-1971
    1992 California Quincentennial, 1987-1988
    Administration of Justice, 1983-1994
    Education, 1987-1996
    Education and General Government, 1985-1986
    Labor, 1967
    Local Government, 1968
    Natural Resources, 1967-1968
    Postsecondary Education, State Administration and Fiscal Control, 1981-1984
    Revenue and Taxation, 1967-1968
    Salinity Intrusion in Agricultural Soils, 1970
    Social Welfare, 1968
    State Deferred Compensation Plan, 1989-1990
    Victim's Rights, 1985-1990
    Water Resources, 1967
    Select Committees
    1992 California Quincentennial, 1991-1992
    Auburn Dam Project, 1984
    Border Issues, Drug Trafficking and Contraband, 1987-1990
    California Exposition and State Fair Oversight, 1984
    California's Wine Industry, 1989-1996
    Children and Youth, 1974
    Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 1985-1986
    Handicapped Children, 1970
    Vice Chair
    Health Hazards of the Workplace, 1989-1990
    Housing and Urban Affairs, 1971-1982
    Chair, 1971-1976
    Investment Priorities and Objectives, 1977-1978
    Maritime Industry, 1974, 1977-1988
    Substance Abuse, 1987-1990
    Joint Committees
    1992 Quincentennial of the Voyages of Christopher Columbus, 1987-1992
    Assessment Practices, 1969-1970
    Bay Area Regional Organization, 1969
    Community Development and Housing Needs, 1973-1974
    Educational Goals and Evaluation, 1971-1974
    Legislative Budget, 1975-1996
    Legislative Organization, 1967-1968
    Mental Health Research, 1989-1992
    National Tax Policy, 1969
    Vice Chair
    Review of the Master Plan for Higher Education, 1987-1988
    Rules, 1975-1996
    Sir Francis Drake Celebration, 1973
    Tort Liability, 1989-1992
    Worker's Compensation, 1993-1996

    Scope and Content

    The Nicholas C. Petris Papers consist of 51 cubic feet of records covering 1959-1996. The collection is organized into four series: Bill Files, Subject Files, Press Releases, and Videotapes and Audiotapes.
    The bill files document Petris' legislative activity during his term as a member of the California State Legislature. The bills introduced by Nicholas Petris include a wide variety of subjects, including such topics as the environment, education, health care, tax reform, and children and senior citizens' issues. Bills Senator Petris introduced included attempts to ban the internal combustion engine, stop the filling of San Francisco Bay, and regulate pesticide usage. He was an advocate for improving care of the mentally challenged, providing health care and adequate housing to farm workers, promoting an equitable tax structure; improving the social conditions and safety of children, senior citizens, and rights of recipients on public assistance.
    The Subject Files provide additional information on the various topics of the Petris' legislation, as well as subjects of personal interest to the Senator. Topics of particular interest include budget issues, child safety belts, and reapportionment. Press Releases were created by Petris and his staff to publicize legislation he authored and activities he participated in during his tenure in the legislature. Finally, there is an assortment of audiotapes and videotapes relating to topics of interest to the Senator and his legislation, such as health care and education.


    No further accruals are expected.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Petris, Nicholas
    Child car seats
    Budget --California

    Related Collections at the California State Archives

    Assembly Elections and Reapportionment Committee Records

    Oral History

    Nicholas C. Petris, Oral History Interview, Conducted 1988 and 1989 by Gabrielle Morris, Regional Oral History Office, University of California at Berkeley, for the California State Archives State Government Oral History Program.