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INVENTORY OF THE DORMAN L. COMMONS COLLECTION, 1972-1970
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Dorman L. Commons Collection
    Dates: 1962/1970
    Collection Number: Consult Repository
    Creator: Commons, Dorman L.
    Extent: 44 boxes 22 linear ft
    Repository: California State University Historical Archives California State University, Dominguez Hills
    Archives & Special Collections
    University Library, Room 5039
    1000 E. Victoria Street
    Carson, California 90747
    Phone: (310) 243-3895
    URL: http://www4.csudh.edu/libarchives/index
    Abstract: The Dorman L. Commons (1918-1987) Collection documents the activities of the California State Board of Education from 1962 through 1970. As a member of the California State Board of Education, Commons’ collection includes materials on California schools K-16, State Board of Education, Max Rafferty as Superintendent of Public Instruction, serving two terms during Commons’ time on the Board of Education, and the election campaign of Wilson Riles, the first African American elected to statewide office in California and first African American to be elected in the nation, for the role of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
    Language: Collection material is in English

    Administration Information

    Access

    There are no access restrictions on this collection.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Title of item], Dorman L. Commons Collection, Courtesy of the California State University Historical Archives. University Library. California State University, Dominguez Hills

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by California State University, Fullerton University Archives and Special Collections, for the California State University Historical Archives at California State University, Dominguez Hills in 2016.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed and arranged by Brandon Werts, 2016

    Biography

    Dorman L. Commons (1918-1987) was Financial Vice President for Occidental Petroleum Co. while serving as a member of the State Board of Education from 1962-1970. From January of 1967 to January of 1968 he served as the President of the California State Board of Education. He also served on the Executive Committee of the National Committee for Support of the Public Schools (NCSPS). Commons was one of the last remaining liberal Democrats on the board during an era of great controversy and change. He worked on the campaign for Wilson Riles against Max Rafferty for superintendent in 1970. After his time on the Board of Education, Commons continued his career in corporate oil and energy, authored a book about corporate takeovers, and was chairman of the California Commission on the Teaching Profession until his death in 1987.
    Max Rafferty (1917-1982) was an educator, an author, and politician. After World War II, Rafferty worked as teacher, vice-principal, principal, and school superintendent throughout California. In 1963 he began serving the first of two consecutive terms as the California Superintendent of Public Instruction. Rafferty had a reputation for being on the far right side of the Republican party, and made his very conservative views apparent while serving as superintendent. While superintendent, Rafferty worked closely with Dorman Commons who, for some of that time, was president of the State Board of Education. Max Rafferty passed away in 1982.
    Wilson C. Riles (1917-1999) served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Riles served as deputy superintendent under Max Rafferty for the State’s educational system. Concerned that the system would suffer with another term from Max Rafferty, Wilson Riles ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction in the 1970 election, beating Rafferty and becoming the first African American to be elected to a statewide office in California, and the first African American in the nation to be elected as State Superintendent of schools. Riles was re-elected as superintendent in 1974 and 1978. Riles passed away in 1999.

    Scope and Content

    The Dorman L. Commons California Education Collection documents the activities of the California State Board of Education from years from 1962 through 1970. As a member of the State Board of Education, acting as president of the board from January 1967 to January 1968, Commons collected materials about general education issues in California, the State Board of Education, Max Rafferty (Superintendent from 1963 to 1970), and the 1970 campaign for Wilson Riles to become Superintendent. The collection consists of 22 linear feet containing; reports, pamphlets, press releases, minutes, agendas, bulletins, letters, film and audio recordings, and newspaper clippings. The materials in the Dorman Commons Collection have been organized into 5 series: general school issues, State Board of Education issues, Max Rafferty, the Wilson Riles election campaign, and newspaper clippings. The newspaper clippings series contains two subseries: State Board of Education related, and Max Rafferty related. The general school issues series consists of seventeen boxes. The items are organized by subject, and include such topics as censorship, desegregation and other race issues, sex education, religion, textbooks, and school district unification. Materials in the series include news clippings, bulletins, pamphlets, fliers, handwritten letters, and reports. The State Board of Education series is contained in five boxes. Folders are organized by subject, and include such topics as State Board department and committee personnel, notes and minutes from meetings, board member elections, Commons’ correspondence while serving on the board, and State Board press releases. The Max Rafferty series is contained in five boxes, organized by subject. Topics include biographical information on Rafferty, his positions on the current issues at the time, and a set of copies of newspaper clippings about or by Rafferty organized chronologically by month. The Wilson Riles election campaign series consists of 8 boxes. Commons worked on the election campaign for Wilson Riles as Superintendent from 1969 through 1970. During the election campaign, Commons collected materials on campaign personnel, campaign strategy, campaign promotional materials, news clippings, finance and fundraising, as well as video and audio reels of public appearances and debates between the candidates. The newspaper clippings series consists of ten boxes. It is separated into two subseries; State Board of Education and Max Rafferty related. The State Board of Education subseries consists of five boxes. Two of the boxes are organized by key subject. The remaining three boxes are organized chronologically from 1963 through 1966. The Max Rafferty news clippings subseries consists of five boxes organized chronologically from 1963 through 1967. The Dorman Commons Collection may be helpful to researchers who are interested in the California education system during the 1960s. One can develop an understanding of the key issues affecting the California school systems during a particularly eventful decade of social and political change. Through the materials about Max Rafferty, researchers can learn about the longstanding Superintendent’s personal politics, and how they relate to the school system and issues of the time. The extensive newspaper clipping collection provides insight into the politics, issues, and activities of the California State Board of Education during the decade.

    Arrangement

    Arranged in five series:
    • Series I. General School Issues
    • Series II. State Board of Education Issues
    • Series III. Max Rafferty
    • Series IV. Wilson Riles Campaign
    • Series V. Newspaper Clippings

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects

    Education—California
    Education—Political aspects
    Religion in the public schools
    School districts
    School integration
    School superintendents
    Sex education
    State boards of education
    Student movements

    Personal Names

    Commons, Dorman L.
    Rafferty, Max Lewis
    Riles, Wilson C.

    Corporate Names

    California. State Board of Education
    California. Superintendent of Public Instruction

    Geographic Areas

    California, Northern
    California, Southern
    California