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Inventory of the Marian Bergeson Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • State Assembly, 1979-1984
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Material at the California State Archives
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Marian Bergeson Papers
    Dates: 1979-1994
    Collection number: See Series Descriptions.
    Creator: Marian Bergeson, California Legislator
    Collection Size: 21 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: Marian Bergeson served as a California Legislator from 1979 to 1994. She was a member of the Republican Party. The Marian Bergeson Papers consist of 21 cubic feet of textual records from her term as an Assembly Member, 1979-1984, and from her term in the Senate, 1985-1992.
    Physical location: California State Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    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], Marian Bergeson Papers, LP[number]:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition and Custodial History

    The California State Archives acquired the Marian Bergeson Papers following her final term in the State Legislature.


    Marian Bergeson was a California State Assembly member from 1979 to 1984 and a California State Senator from 1985-1994. She was a member of the Republican Party. She was initially elected to represent the 74th Assembly District from 1979 until 1982, which encompassed the Orange and San Diego County coastline, including Newport Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, and San Clemente. After reapportionment, her district's boundaries changed in 1983 for her final Assembly term. The district became the 70th Assembly District, stretching from Newport Beach to the North Tustin area, San Juan Capistrano, and Laguna Beach. Her first Senate District was Senate District 37. The multi-county district contained the entire Orange County coast, northeastern San Diego County, Hemet-Sun City area of Riverside County, and all of Imperial County. Following legislative reapportionment in 1992, Bergeson represented the 35th Senate District, encompassing all of the Orange County shoreline, from Seal Beach to Laguna Beach and reaching inland to Tustin, including most of Irvine and parts of Anaheim.
    According to the Who's Who in the California Legislature, Marian Bergeson was born in West Los Angeles and attended University High School. She matriculated to University of California, Los Angeles and Brigham Young University (BYU), obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in education from the latter university. Afterward, she was a schoolteacher. She served on two school boards of education between 1964 and 1977: from 1964 to 1965 on the Newport Beach City School District Board of Education, and from 1965 to 1977 on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education. She served as president of the California School Boards Association for her final education position in 1978.
    Bergeson received many awards before and during her legislative service. In 1974, the Orange County School Boards Association created the Marian Bergeson Community Service Award. The Parent Teacher Association conferred upon her the Life Membership and Continuing Service Award in 1975. And, in 1976 the American Association of University Women gave her their Community Service Award. While in the legislature, she received the 1980-1981 Distinguished Service Award from BYU, the University of California Student Association Senator of the Year Award in 1987, the League of California Cities Legislator of the Year Award in 1987, Senator of the Year by the California Business Properties Association in 1988, and the Outstanding State Senator of the Year Award from the California School Boards Association in 1991.
    Never divorcing herself from her constituency, Bergeson remained active in her local community. She founded the Orange County's Coalition for Health Care Solutions and its Homeless Issues Task Force. Her board membership of United Way and the National Charity League reflected her commitment for local issues.
    The 1990s saw two setbacks for Bergeson. In 1990, she made a failed attempt at the office of Lieutenant Governor, losing to the incumbent Leo T. McCarthy 51% to 42%. This loss was her only attempt at statewide elected office. In 1993, Governor Pete Wilson appointed her as the Superintendent of Public Instruction but the Assembly denied her confirmation.
    Bergeson ended her legislative career in 1994, two years after her third Senate election. She ran for the Orange County Board of Supervisors and won 98% of the vote to represent the Fifth District. Ending statewide office by resigning to serve her county represented her commitment to local government.
    According to the California Legislature at Sacramento (Handbooks), the Senate Final History, and the Assembly Final History, Bergeson served on the following committees:

    State Assembly, 1979-1984

    Standing Committees
    Criminal Justice, 1979-1980
    Economic Development and New Technology, 1984
    Education, 1979-1983
    *Vice Chair, 1979-1980
    Labor and Government, 1981-1982
    Public Employees and Retirement, 1981-1984
    Resources, Land Use, and Energy, 1979-1980
    Utilities and Commerce, 1984
    Ways and Means, 1981-1984
    Amusement Park Ride Safety, 1981-1982
    County Justice System Subvention Program, 1979-1980
    Education Reform, 1979-1982
    Education, 1983-1984
    Number 2- Education, 1981-1984
    Select Committees
    Acid Rain, 1981-1982
    Economic Problems in Timber and Related Industries, 1979-1980
    International Water Treatment and Reclamation, 1983-1984
    Review of State Mandates on School Districts, 1981-1982
    *Chair, 1981-1982
    Joint Committees
    Ad Hoc Educational Sunset Review Committee, 1979-1982
    Revision of the Penal Code, 1979-1980

    State Senate, 1985-1994

    Standing Committees
    Agriculture and Water Resources, 1985-1990
    Appropriations, 1989-1994
    Bonded Indebtedness and Methods of Financing, 1987-1988
    Budget and Fiscal Review, 1987-1988
    *Vice Chair, 1987-1988
    Education, 1985-1994
    *Vice Chair, 1985-1986
    Elections and Reapportionment, 1989-1992
    Health and Human Services, 1989-1994
    Industrial Relations, 1993-1994
    Local Government, 1985-1994
    *Chair, 1985-1994
    Natural Resources and Wildlife, 1991-1992
    Public Employment and Retirement, 1985-1986
    Revenue and Taxation, 1985-1986
    Transportation, 1985-1992
    Joint Committees
    Organized Crime and Gang Violence, 1987-1990
    Review of the Master Plan for Higher Education, 1985-1990
    School Facilities, 1987-1990
    Research Committees
    Neighborhood Violence, 1987-1990
    Select Committees
    Bilingual Education, 1991-1994
    Border Issues, Drug Trafficking, and Contraband, 1987-1992
    Defense Base Closures, 1993-1994
    Health Hazards in the Workplace, 1989-1990
    Infant and Childcare Development, 1987-1994
    Planning for California's Growth, 1985-1994
    *Chair, 1985-1994
    Source Reduction and Recycling Market Development, 1989-1994
    Women in the Workforce, 1993-1994
    Special Committees
    Border Issues, 1991-1994
    Greenhouse Effect, Ozone Depletion, and Pollution, 1990
    University of California Admissions, 1987-1990
    Agricultural Drainage Practices, 1985-1990
    Minorities and Women and the 1990 Reapportionment, 1990
    Redevelopment of Antiquated Subdivisions, 1985-1986
    *Chair, 1985-1986
    Water Marketing, 1985-1988
    *Chair, 1985-1988
    Task Forces
    California Mexico Relations Task Force, 1987-1990
    Committee on Legislative Ethics
    Legislative Ethics, 1991-1992

    Scope and Content

    The Marian Bergeson Papers consist of 21 cubic feet of textual records from her term as an Assembly Member, 1979-1984, and from he term in the Senate, 1985-1992. Bill Files are the singular series. The papers were processed at two times. The 1979-1982 Bill Files were processed under LP223, while the 1983-1994 Bill Files were assigned LP398.
    In the legislature, Marian Bergeson's career can best be summarized by the following advice by Senate President pro tempore Hugh M. Burns: "My advice to the kids when they come up Sacramento is: Remember your duty is to the people who elected you. Your first consideration should be your district, then the state, and then, if you want, the welfare of your party," from California Legislative Leaders: Oral History Transcript and Related Material, 1977-1981 (Volume 2). She focused most of her attention on local government, especially concentrating on Orange County. The principle that local governments enjoy autonomy from the state government, home rule, found a staunch supporter in Bergeson. Throughout her career, she championed wide-ranging issues with regional solutions. Her legislation typically empowered municipalities to implement regional solutions. In addition, the 1991-1992 Who's Who in the California State Legislature quoted her Lieutenant Governor campaign's self-description as a "pragmatic conservative."
    As indicated, education remained her passion. As a former teacher and school board member, she continued to seek to improve California's education excellence. Despite believing strongly in home rule, her concern of California's public education system occasionally caused her to rely on statewide solutions, which overrode local authority. Other important issues included economic development, the environment, law and order, public employee retirement, worker's compensation, and transportation.
    The collection benefits researchers interested in California's government in the 1980s and the 1990s. Bergeson's focus on local issues and solutions offers insight into the complex struggle between regional municipalities, such as city, county, and special districts, and the state government. Not only would the state government struggle with home rule but city and county governments also dueled over policy, occasionally adopting opposing positions on issues. Her legislative record reflects the tension created by these conflicts.
    Other issues are present throughout the collection. Reflecting her local concern, she authored many bill files dealing with land development, such as transportation, the environment, housing, and municipal growth. All these issues were tackled with a focus on small business and the business environment. The collection details her attempts to streamline the development process while preserving the environment, specifically the coastline. She hoped to keep the California coast line pristine, preserving the vital Orange County tourism industry.
    Her concern for children and their mental and physical health is seen not just in education bills, but also legislation related to health and human services. She authored legislation for poverty-stricken mothers and to fund education programs for their children. This legislation highlighted her pragmatic dedication to education, overriding her strong support of home rule.

    Related Material at the California State Archives

    Senate Committee on Education
    Senate Committee on Local Government
    Senate Committee on Transportation
    Assembly Committee on Education

    Oral History

    Marian Bergeson, Oral History Interview, conducted 2000 by Susan Douglass Yates, Oral History Program, UCLA for the State Government Oral History Program available at the California State Archives and some other repositories.

    Other Repositories

    Additional records may be found at the Marian Bergeson Papers, Library Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California 92623-9557.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Bergeson, Marian
    Local government