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Inventory of the Newton R. Russell Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • California State Assembly, 1965-1974
  • Scope and Content
  • Accruals
  • Related Material at the California State Archives
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Newton R. Russell Papers
    Dates: 1965-1996
    Collection number: LP457
    Creator: Newton R. Russell, California Legislator
    Collection Size: 35 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: California legislator Newton R. Russell served as a State Assembly Member from 1965-1974, and as a State Senator from 1975-1996. The Russell Papers consist of 35 cubic feet of records reflecting the interests and political activities of Russell during his career in the California State Legislature. The records contain 12 record series covering the years 1965-1996.
    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 consult California State Archives staff. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement that may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives' collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Newton R. Russell Papers, LP457:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition and Custodial History

    The California State Archives acquired the Newton R. Russell Papers following his final term in the State Legislature.


    Newton R. Russell, a Republican, served in the California Legislature from 1965 to 1996. He was first elected to the California State Assembly in 1964, and later elected to the State Senate in a 1974 special election. As an Assembly Member, Russell represented the 62nd District, which included the cities of El Segundo, Hawthorne, Lawndale, and Inglewood; part of Gardena; the Los Angeles communities of Venice and Westchester; and census-designated places including Del Aire, Lennox, Marina del Rey, West Athens, and Westmont. As a Senator, he represented the 21st District, which included the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, San Marino, South Pasadena, Temple City; and Los Angeles communities of Altadena, La Crescenta, Los Feliz, Montrose, Silver Lake, Verdugo City, and Griffith Park. Russell retained his Senate seat until 1996 when he stepped down due to term limits.
    Newton R. Russell was born on June 25, 1927, in Los Angeles, California. A fourth-generation Californian, Russell graduated from Webb School in Claremont, where he was senior class president. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he attended the University of Southern California where he received his bachelor's degree in business administration in 1951. He later pursued graduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Georgetown University in Washington, D. C. Prior to his election to the State Assembly in 1964, Russell worked for the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company for twelve years as a special agent.
    Russell first ventured into politics as a volunteer for Richard Nixon's 1960 presidential campaign. Four years later, he won a seat in the State Assembly after a failed first try. In 1968, Russell planned to run for a congressional seat, but decided against it after Governor Ronald Reagan urged him to stay in the Assembly to retain the Republican majority there. In 1974, Russell lost a primary race by a slim margin to Assembly Member Michael Antonovich. But, less than two weeks later, Russell defeated Los Angeles City Councilman Arthur K. Snyder in a special election when a midterm resignation left an opening in the Senate. He served for another twenty-two years before term limits forced him to leave office in 1996. Russell died in May 2013 from lung cancer at his home in La Cañada Flintridge at the age of 85.
    Over the course of his thirty-two year career in the Legislature, Russell focused primarily on issues related to the public pension system and various social issues. As Chairman of the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee, he became the acknowledged expert on public pensions among his fellow legislators, drafting several bills to close loopholes and to eliminate wasteful spending. In addition to his efforts to reform the state retirement system, Russell also led a longtime charge to regulate the pornography industry, writing legislation that effectively restricted pornographers from distributing their products in areas frequented by children or broadcasting videos via basic cable. Opposed to vice in other areas, he also fought to more strictly regulate "happy hour" promotions in bars, as well as to restrict-unsuccessfully-the sale of drug paraphernalia. Like most public officials in the 1980s, Russell was also concerned by the rise and spread of the AIDS virus. A religious conservative, he staunchly supported abstinence-only education, wrote legislation to require AIDS-testing prior to marriage, and opposed civil equality for homosexuals.
    During his term in the California Legislature, Russell served on the following committees and commissions according to the California Legislature at Sacramento (Handbooks), Assembly Final History, Senate Final History, and Pocket Directory of the California Legislature:

    California State Assembly, 1965-1974

    • Standing Committees
    • Education, 1969-1974
    • Elections and Reapportionment, 1971-1972
    • Employment and Public Employees, 1973
    • Finance and Insurance, 1965-1968, 1972-1974
    • Government Administration, 1970-1974
    • *Chair, 1970-1974
    • Local Government, 1971
    • Military and Veterans Affairs, 1965-1966
    • *Vice Chair, 1965-1966
    • Public Employees and Retirement, 1973-1974
    • Public Health, 1965-1966
    • Revenue and Taxation, 1969-1970
    • Rules, 1967-1970
    • Urban Affairs and Housing, 1969
    • Water, 1965-1968
    • Select Committees
    • Campus Disturbances, 1969
    • Industrial Safety, 1971-1974
    • Juvenile Violence, 1973-1974
    • *Vice Chair, 1973-1974
    • Manpower Development, 1971-1974
    • Service Station Franchising and Petroleum Product Practices, 1973-1974
    • Special Committees
    • General Research, 1965-1966
    • Joint Committees
    • Building Space Needs, 1968
    • Educational Evaluation, 1969-1970
    • Educational Goals and Evaluation, 1972-1973
    • Legislative Organization, 1967-1970
    • Public Domain, 1969-1970
    • *Chair, 1969-1970
    • Commissions
    • American Revolution Bicentennial of California, 1973-1974
    • Economic Development, 1972-1974
    • Educational Innovation Advisory, 1969-1971
    • Educational Innovation and Planning, 1972-1974
    • Indian Affairs Advisory, 1965-1967

    California State Senate, 1974-1996

    • Standing Committees
    • Banking and Commerce, 1981-1990
    • *Vice Chair, 1985-1990
    • Banking, Commerce, and International Trade, 1991-1994
    • *Vice Chair, 1991-1994
    • Budget and Fiscal Review, 1985-1986
    • Energy and Public Utilities, 1979-1994
    • *Vice Chair, 1983-1994
    • Energy, Utilities, and Communications, 1995-1996
    • *Vice Chair, 1995-1996
    • Finance, Investment, and International Trade, 1993-1996
    • *Vice Chair, 1993-1996
    • Industrial Relations, 1975-1984
    • *Vice Chair, 1981-1982
    • Insurance, 1993-1996
    • Insurance and Financial Institutions, 1975-1976, 1979-1980
    • Insurance, Claims, and Corporations, 1991-1994
    • Legislative Ethics, 1993-1996
    • Local Government, 1985-1996
    • Public Employment and Retirement, 1975-1982
    • *Vice Chair, 1975-1976
    • *Chair, 1977-1982
    • Public Utilities, Transit, and Energy, 1975-1978
    • Transportation, 1987-1996
    • Subcommittees
    • Cable Television (Energy and Public Utilities), 1983-1984
    • Cal-OSHA (Industrial Relations), 1977-1980
    • *Chair, 1977-1978
    • Energy (Public Utilities, Transit, and Energy), 1977-1980
    • *Chair, 1977-1980
    • Energy (Energy and Public Utilities), 1981-1984
    • *Chair, 1981-1984
    • Energy Costs and Industrial Development (Energy and Public Utilities), 1985-1990
    • Health Care Reform (Insurance), 1995-1996
    • Justice, Corrections, Resources, and Agriculture, No. 2 (Budget and Fiscal Review), 1985-1986
    • Nuclear Facility Safety and Emergency Preparedness (Energy and Public Utilities), 1985-1986
    • The Americas (Finance, Investment, and International Trade), 1995-1996
    • Vice Chair, 1995-1996
    • Women in the Workforce (Industrial Relations), 1983-1984
    • Select Committees
    • California's Wine Industry, 1987-1996
    • Children and Youth, 1975-1994
    • Department of Insurance as a Consumer Protection Agency, 1989-1990
    • Information Services in State Government, 1995-1996
    • Insurance Reform, 1993-1994
    • Interstate Banking, 1983-1984
    • Investment Priorities and Objectives, 1977-1980
    • Mediation, 1995-1996
    • *Chair, 1995-1996
    • Northridge Earthquake, 1995-1996
    • Pacific Rim, 1987-1994
    • Vehicle Design and Performance, 1975-1976
    • Special Committees
    • Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health, 1991-1996
    • Entertainment Industry, 1993-1994
    • Global Competition and International Trade, 1991-1992
    • Joint Committees
    • Educational Goals and Evaluation, 1975-1976
    • Energy Policy and Implementation, 1977-1981
    • Energy Regulation and the Environment, 1989-1992
    • Job Development, 1977-1981
    • Legislative Retirement, 1983-1990
    • Mental Health Research, 1989-1992
    • *Vice Chair, 1989-1992
    • Motor Vehicle Inspections, 1975-1976
    • Oversight on Lowering Cost of Electric Services, 1993-1996
    • Peace Officers Classifications, 1977-1982
    • Public Pension Fund Investments, 1981-1982, 1987-1988
    • Rules, 1981-1996
    • State's Economy, 1977-1992
    • Tort Liability, 1977-1981
    • Worker's Compensation Study, 1983-1984
    • Commissions
    • Corporate Governance, Shareholder Rights, and Securities Transactions, 1989-1992
    • Debt Advisory, 1987-1990
    In addition to his many committee appointments, Newton R. Russell was also a member of the Executive Committee (1965-1972) and the Republican State Central Committee (1965-1972). He also served as Senate Minority Whip (1986-1996).

    Scope and Content

    The Newton R. Russell papers consist of 35 cubic feet of textual records and audio/visual materials and cover the years 1965-1996. The records are organized into 12 record series: Bill Files, 1966-1996; Pastor-Prayer Subject Files, 1990-1995; Speech Subject Files, 1991-1994; Pornography Research Files, 1975-1987; Senate Select Committee on Mediation Files, 1988-1996; Subject Files, 1971-1991; Antelope Valley Files, 1983-1992; Newsletters, 1965-1987; Press Clippings, 1993-1995; Press Releases, 1974-1995; AIDS Subject Files, 1983-1988; and Rose Bird Recall Files, 1982-1986.
    The Bill Files series comprises the bulk of the collection and provide the strongest evidence of Russell's primary legislative interests. These files demonstrate his concerted and consistent focus on: the public pension system, drug and alcoholic beverage regulation, pornography regulation, and AIDS.
    Supplementing the Bill Files, the collection's other series reveal Russell's politically conservative outlook and his activism while in office. A longtime foe of pornography, the Pornography Research Files provide access to Russell's legislative influences and models from around the country as he drafted his own legislation in California. Similarly, the AIDS Subject Files document Russell's battle to combat the controversial disease in accordance with their political-religious principles. More than anything, this series illustrates the fiercely contentious atmosphere surrounding AIDS in the 1980s.
    In addition to those record series that illuminate Russell's career as a legislator, several also provide insight into his career as a politician. Pastor-Prayer Subject Files illustrate his efforts to reach California's conservative religious communities in the early 1990s. Likewise, Newsletters and Press Releases, spanning most of his career, track Russell's outreach efforts toward his Southern California constituents in general. Even more locally, the Antelope Valley Files document his interest in and efforts for one specific constituent community. Throughout his career, Russell was in constant communication with those he represented and worked hard to serve their needs.


    No further accruals are expected.

    Related Material at the California State Archives

    John Doolittle Papers
    Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Russell, Newton R.
    Alcohol-Law and legislation
    Drugs-Law and legislation-California
    Crime prevention-California
    Early childhood education-California