Inventory of the Nicholas C. Petris Papers

Processed by Patricia C. Gregory and Rebecca Weisberg
California State Archives
1020 "O" Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: (916) 653-2246
Fax: (916) 653-7363
© 2013
California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the Nicholas C. Petris Papers

Collection numbers: LP318

California State Archives

Office of the Secretary of State

Sacramento, California
Processed by:
Patricia C. Gregory and Rebecca Weisberg
Date Completed:
1 August 2008
Encoded by:
Sara Kuzak
© 2013 California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

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.

LP318:1-794, LP318:993-1008

Series 1 Bill Files 1956-1996

Physical Description: 811 file folders


Arranged chronologically by legislative session, then numerically by bill number.

Scope and Content Note

Bill Files may include correspondence, author's statements, analyses, research reports; press releases and newspaper clippings. Bills of particular interest include SB1493 (1979-1980), which addressed the Attorney General's authority over California churches and religious groups, SB537 (1981-1982), which required child car seat restraints, and SB778 (1969), which attempted to ban internal combustion engines. There are also extensive records available on the Tax Justice Act of 1977 (SB154), which provided property tax relief for homeowners and renters.
1959: AB1810-AB2824 (3ff) LP318:1-3
1961: AB200-AB2029. ACA. ACR. AJR (11ff) LP318:4-14
1962: AB33X, HR 21X (2ff) LP318:15-16
1963: AB63-AB3068, ACAs, ACRs, HRs (20ff) LP318:17-36
1964: AB19X-AB201X, ACAXs, ACRXs, HRXs (1ff) LP318:37-42
1965: AB15-AB3064, ACAs, ACRs, HRs, AB1X-AB12X (14ff) LP318:43-56
1966: AB10X-AB150X, AB5XX-AB10XX (10ff) LP318:57-66
1967: SB68-SB1319, SCAs, SJRs, SRs (3ff) LP318:67-79
1968: SB268-SB1118, SRs, SB7X - SB8X, SCA1X (14ff) LP318:80-92A
1969: SB333-SB1321, SCAs, SCRs, SRs (11ff) LP318:93-103
1970: SB66-SB1422 (34ff) LP318:104-137
1971: SB30-SB1523, SCAs, SCRs (23ff) LP318:138-160
1972: SB7-SB2475, SCAs, SCRs (28ff) LP318:161-188
1973-1974: SB15-SB2470, SCAs, SCRs, SJRs (41ff) LP318:189-229
1975-1976: SB33-SB2082, SCRs, SJRs (23ff) LP318:230-252
1977-1978: SB154-SB2220 (48ff) LP318:252-299
1979-1980: SB30-SB1981, SCAs, SCRs, SJRs (49ff) LP318:300-348; SB1493 (16ff) LP318:993-1008
1981-1982: SB317-SB2074, SCRs, SJRs, SRs (72ff) LP318:349-420
1983-1984: SB23-SB2322 (85ff) LP318:421-505
1985-1986: SB199-SB2580, SJR3 (64ff) LP318:506-569
1987-1988: SB82-SB2796 (70ff) LP318:570-639
1989-1990: SB36-SB2912, SCA, SCR, SB9X-SB39X (50ff) LP318:640-689
1991-1992: PREPRINT SB7-SB11, SB36-SB1854, SCAs, SCRs, SJRs (41ff) LP318:690-730
1993-1994: SB52-SB2105, SJR4 (35ff) LP318:731-765
1995-1996: SB282-SB1487 (29ff) LP318:766-794

Series 2 Subject Files 1964-1996

Physical Description: 188 file folders


Arranged alphabetically by subject heading.

Scope and Content Note

Subject files may include correspondence, reports, newspaper articles, and memoranda relating to Senator Petris' legislation, personal interests, and Senate district. Of particular note are those files related to budget issues, health care and mental health, and various ballot propositions.
For a list of subject files, see Appendix A at the State Archives.

Series 3 Press Releases 1970-1987

Physical Description: 9 file folders


Arranged chronologically by date of press release.

Scope and Content Note

The press releases were created and released by the staff of Senator Petris to advertise legislation he sponsored and activities in which he participated.

Series 4 Videotapes and Audiotapes 1983-1994

Physical Description: 14 videotapes and 7 audiotapes

Access Information

Access to audiovisual material requires the production of use copies.


Arranged by format.

Scope and Content Note

The video and audiotapes cover topics related to Petris' legislation such as health care, education, and child safety legislation. They have been separated to a cold-storage vault for preservation purposes.
Video Tapes
The Right to Health Care Act. 19 minutes
Transforming Our Schools for the 21st Century - Beyond the Box. Alameda Unified School District, August 19-20, 1991
Tobacco Education Media Campaign. - Advertising Sampler - California Dept of Health Services, 1994
"Day One". ABC TV February 28, 1994
Cigarette Company - Nicotine Level Manipulation
Senator Nick Petris Dinner August 29, 1996. 2hours 25 minutes
Borderline Medicine
Children and Infants in Car Crashes: Restrained and Unrestrained. California Highway Patrol Academy TV Services.
Farm Workers. KRON Mike O'Connor. 10 minutes - 2 "5" minute segments
Berkeley Owners In support of SB1257. 9 minutes
Student Fees. - Senator Petris VNR, February 27, 1995
Canada's National Health Program - A Model for the United States. 27 Minutes
ABS Pipes. KTVU Ch. 2, September 18, 1983, 8 minutes 35 seconds
Child Safety Seat Legislation. KNBC TV News David Horowitz and Senator Petris, May 24, 1989
Audio Tapes
SB537 California Passenger Safety Association Workshop, Child Safety Legislation. Includes list of Speakers, August 1983, 6 tapes
Senator Petris / Tom Vacar. KTVU News, November 4, 1994, 60 minutes or 60 Seconds