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Donald R. Wright Papers: Finding Aid
mssHM 71551-71636  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Materials in the Huntington Library
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing: Added Entries
  • Indexing: Subjects
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Donald R. Wright Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1933-1977
    Bulk dates: 1970-1977
    Collection Number: mssHM 71551-71636
    Creator: Wright, Donald R. (Donald Richard), 1907-1985.
    Extent: 87 items in 2 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers of lawyer and California State Supreme Court judge Donald R. Wright (1907-1985), chiefly consisting of correspondence, and some documents, dating from the 1970s. Most of the correspondence relates in some way to the California Supreme Court, including congratulations on Wright's appointment as Chief Justice in 1970, as well as a large group of telegrams and letters received in regards to the Court's decision to end capital punishment in California in 1972.
    Language: English.

    Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Donald R. Wright Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Gift from Mrs. Donald R. Wright, 1988.

    Related Materials in the Huntington Library

    Biographical Note

    Born in Placentia, California, on February 7, 1907, Donald R. Wright (1907-1985) attended some of the nation’s top institutions of learning on his path to becoming a prominent California lawyer and judge. After graduating from Stanford University in 1929, Wright went on to study law at Harvard, where he graduated in 1932. He passed the California bar exam in June 1933 and immediately began work for Barrick, Pool, and Knox, a Pasadena law firm, with whom he worked for the next twenty years. Wright’s only respite from law came during the Second World War, while he served as an U.S. Army Air Force intelligence officer in Alaska. In 1953, California Governor Earl Warren appointed Wright to Pasadena district judge. In 1961, Los Angeles voters elected Wright to serve as a judge on the county’s Superior Court, a position which he served for seven years until 1968, when Governor Ronald Reagan appointed Wright to position of Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal. Wright only served in this capacity for two years before Reagan appointed him Chief Justice of the California State Supreme Court. In this position, Wright took positions counter to the wishes of his political allies, most notably his opinion striking down the death penalty in 1972 and when voters reinstated it by initiative in 1976, striking it down again. Repulsed at his stance, Reagan openly lamented ever appointing Wright to the post. Other accomplishments of the Wright court included expanding the definitions of illegally obtained evidence for criminal cases, and the prevention of police from surreptitiously posing as students in college classes to root out supposedly dissident professors. Wright retired from the court in 1977 and died at his home in Pasadena on March 21, 1985.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains the papers of lawyer and California State Supreme Court judge Donald R. Wright. The collection’s highlights include several letters from American jurists of the highest order, as well as a large group of invective-laden telegrams and letters Wright received in 1972 in regards to the California Supreme Court’s decision to end capital punishment in the state. Most of the correspondence relates in some way to the California Supreme Court, most commonly letters and telegrams of congratulation on his appointment to the post of Chief Justice in April 1970.
    Notable participants include: Edmund G. Brown; Warren Burger; California Supreme Court; Alan Cranston; Los Angeles County Superior Court; Ronald Reagan; Joseph Wapner; Earl Warren. The collection also includes certificates, official appointments, meeting minutes, and speeches.
    Subjects in the collections include: American Bar Association; Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; California Bar Association; California Judicial Council; California Supreme Court; capital punishment; Conference of Circuit Chiefs; William O. Douglas; Elections in California; Al Gore; Harvard Law School; Hastings College of Law; judicial reform; Charles Manson; McGeorge School of Law; municipal courts in California; National Center for State Court; Richard Nixon; Pasadena Unified School District; Presidential inaugurations; press conferences; Ronald Reagan; Salvation Army; Twilight Club (Pasadena, Calif.); United Nations; United States Supreme Court; and Earl Warren.

    Arrangement

    Arranged alphabetically by author.

    Indexing: Added Entries

    Cranston, Alan MacGregor
    • Addressee of Richard E. Erwin letter (1971, Oct. 21). HM 71570.
    Reagan, Ronald
    • Addressee of Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-, letter (1970, Apr. 14). HM 71631.

    Indexing: Subjects

    Note: The California Supreme court is not subject indexed due to the large amount of relevant material.
    American Bar Association
    • Subject in Warren E. Burger, 1907-1995 letter (1971, May 28) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71559.
    Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
    • Subject in Richard Gleaves letter (1970, Oct. 28) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71577.
    California Bar Association
    • Subject in California. Supreme Court. Bar certification (1933, June 9). HM 71563.
    California. Judicial Council
    • Subject in Warren E. Burger, 1907-1995 letter (1971, Feb. 19) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71556.
    Capital punishment
    • Subject in Charles H. Carr, Jr. letter (1972, Mar. 14) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71567.
    • Subject in Virginia Herring telegram (1972, Feb. 21) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. . HM 71583.
    • Subject in George D. Jagels letter (1972, Feb. 24) to Editor, Los Angeles Times. HM 71587.
    • Subject in Robert Lochmiller telegram (1972, Feb. 19) to California. Supreme Court. HM 71598.
    • Subject in Mr. and Mrs. R. I. Mitchell telegram (1972, Feb. 20) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. . HM 71605.
    • Subject in Sara Muir letter (1972, May 1) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71606.
    • Subject in Charles H. Seel telegram (1972, Feb. 20) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71615.
    • Subject in Ed Sullivan letter [undated] to California. Supreme Court. HM 71618.
    • Subject in Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Walker telegram (1972, Feb. 19) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71620.
    • Subject in Marlin L.B Young letter (1972, Feb. 22) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71636.
    Conference of Circuit Chiefs
    • Subject in Warren E. Burger, 1907-1995 letter (1971, Mar. 29) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71558.
    Douglas, William O. (William Orville), 1898-1980
    • Subject in Harry A. (Harry Andrew) Blackmun, 1908-1999 telegram (1971, Apr. 7) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71554.
    Elections -- California
    • Subject in Edmund G. (Edmund Gerald) Brown, 1905-1996 certificate of election (1974, Nov. 5). HM 71561.
    • Subject in Ronald Reagan letter (1970, Dec. 3) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71613.
    Elections -- California -- Los Angeles
    • Subject in Frank M. (Frank Morrill) Jordan, 1888-1970 certificate of election (1967, Jan. 2). HM 71588.
    Gore, Albert, 1948-
    • Subject in Richard Gleaves letter (1970, Oct. 28) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71577.
    Harvard Law School
    • Subject in Thomas S. (Thomas Swain) Barclay, 1892-1993 letter (1970, July 2) to Richard M. Sims, Jr. HM 71552.
    • Subject in “Dirty Gertie” telegram (1971, Apr. 7) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71570.
    • Subject in George Kimball telegram (1970, Apr. 11) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71592.
    • Subject in Ronald Reagan telegram (1971, Apr. 7) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71614.
    Hastings College of Law
    • Subject in Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-, Hasting’s College Commencement Speech (1971, July 11). HM 71628.
    Justice, Administration of - United States
    • Subject in Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-, Rotary speech (1971, May 25). HM 71634.
    Manson, Charles, 1934-
    • Subject in Charles H. Seel telegram (1972, Feb. 20) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71615.
    McGeorge School of Law
    • Subject in Harold M. Kambak letter (1975, Feb. 6) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71589.
    • Subject in Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-, McGeorge Commencement Speech (1971, June 12). HM 71629.
    Municipal courts -- California
    • Subject in Benjamin S. Hite certificate of election (1958, June 30). HM 71584.
    National Center for State Courts
    • Subject in Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-, letter (1977, Sep. 9) to the Conference of Chief Justices. HM 71626.
    Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
    • Subject in Inaugural Committee (U.S.: 1973). Presidential Inauguration Invitation (1972, Dec. 12). HM 71585.
    Pasadena Unified School District
    • Subject in Nobu. T. Kawai letter (1974, June 8) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71591.
    Presidents - United States – Inauguration
    • Subject in Inaugural Committee (U.S.: 1973). Presidential Inauguration Invitation (1972, Dec. 12). HM 71585.
    Press conferences
    • Subject in Warren E. Burger, 1907-1995 letter (1971, Mar. 9) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71557.
    Reagan, Ronald
    • Subject in John Miner telegram (1970, Apr. 7) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. . HM 71603.
    • Subject in Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-, letter (1970, Apr. 14) to Ronald Reagan. HM 71631.
    Salvation Army
    • Subject in Frank Lanterman telegram (1971, Apr. 19) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71594.
    • Subject in Victor L. Newbould (1973, Dec. 11) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71607.
    Superior Court (Los Angeles County, Calif.)
    • Subject in Frank M. (Frank Morrill) Jordan, 1888-1970 certificate of election (1967, Jan. 2). HM 71588.
    Twilight Club (Pasadena, Calif.)
    • Subject in John R. Mage letter (1970, May 1) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71602.
    United Nations
    • Subject in Mary T. Hennessy letter (1970, July 17) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71582.
    United States. Supreme Court
    • Subject in Richard E. Erwin letter (1971, Oct. 26) to Richard Caballero, Morris Lavine, Philip Erbsen, Al Matthews, Harold J. Ackerman, Burton Marks, Earl C. Broady, Dan O’Neil, Charles Hollopeter, Warren L. Ettinger, Paul Caruso, William Drake, and David Cunningham. HM 71572.
    Warren, Earl, 1891-1974
    • Subject in Richard Gleaves letter (1970, Oct. 28) to Donald R. (Donald Richard) Wright, 1907-. HM 71577.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    Douglas, William O. (William Orville), 1898-1980.
    Gore, Albert, 1948-.
    Manson, Charles, 1934-.
    Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994.
    Wright, Donald R. (Donald Richard), 1907-1985.
    American Bar Association.
    California Bar Association.
    California. Judicial Council.
    Conference of Circuit Chiefs.
    Harvard Law School.
    Hastings College of the Law.
    McGeorge School of Law.
    National Center for State Courts.
    Pasadena Unified School District.
    Salvation Army.
    United Nations.
    United States. Supreme Court.
    Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka.
    Capital punishment -- California -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Elections -- California.
    Justice, Administration of -- United States.
    Municipal courts -- California.
    Presidents -- United States -- Inauguration.
    California -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    California -- Politics and government -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Los Angeles (Calif.)

    Forms/Genres

    Certificates -- California -- 20th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century.
    Speeches -- California -- 20th century.

    Additional Contributors

    Brown, Edmund G. (Edmund Gerald), 1905-1996.
    Burger, Warren E., 1907-1995.
    Cranston, Alan, 1914-2000, recipient.
    Reagan, Ronald.
    Wapner, Joseph A.
    Warren, Earl, 1891-1974.
    California. Superior Court (Los Angeles County)
    California. Supreme Court.