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Inventory of the Elizabeth Snyder Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Collections at the California State Archives

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Elizabeth Snyder Papers
    Dates: 1937-1987
    Collection number: C138
    Creator: Elizabeth Snyder
    Collection Size: 3 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: The Elizabeth Snyder Papers consist of 2 cubic feet of records covering the years 1937 to 1987, with the bulk of materials covering 1953 to 1956, when she was Chair of the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC), and 1977 to 1987, when she was active in the feminist movement in the Southern California region.
    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], Elizabeth Snyder Papers, C138.[series number], [box and folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition and Custodial History

    The California State Archives acquired the private papers of Elizabeth Snyder through a donation.

    Administrative History

    Elizabeth Snyder was born Elizbeth Carlson on April 8, 1914 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She moved to Los Angeles in 1927 with her family and attended Garfield High School. As a college student she was active in the Young Democrats. She attended both undergraduate and graduate school at the University of California, Los Angeles and received her degree in Political Science in 1937. The following year she attended the Young Democrats' national convention as a national committeewoman for the organization. In 1938, she was a member of the speakers' bureau during the successful campaign of Culbert Olson for California governor. From 1938 to 1942, while still active in the Young Democrats, she worked as a substitute teacher and as a lobbyist for laws pertaining to substitute teaching. In 1940, she married a fellow Young Democrat, attorney Nathan Snyder.
    She attended her first Democratic National Convention in 1940 as an alternate delegate for Congressman Jerry Voorhis, whom she would one day describe as her political hero. After World War II, she worked on congressional campaigns for Voorhis and Chet Holifield, and for the Harry Truman presidential campaign in 1948. In 1950, both of her major campaigns were unsuccessful - the signature-gathering drive to place an initiative abolishing California's "cross-filing" system on the ballot and the Helen Gahagan Douglas campaign for United States Senate.
    Eliminating cross-filing was one of Snyder's passions; in 1952, the initiative finally made it onto the ballot as Proposition 13 (it failed by 3,000 votes). That same year she attended the Democratic National Convention again, as an alternate delegate supporting U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. The next year, after Adlai Stevenson's loss in the presidential election, Snyder and other California activists founded the California Democratic Council (CDC), which quickly became the primary grassroots organization supporting Democratic candidates and issues in California.
    In 1954, Snyder became the first female chairperson of the State Democratic Central Committee, in effect making her the head of the Democratic Party in California. She served in that position for two years. In 1956, she attended the Democratic National Convention as a delegate. That was where Snyder's official capacity as a party official ended. In 1958, she co-founded the firm of Snyder-Smith Advertising and Public Relations, where she managed state and local campaigns for the rest of her career. In 1970, Snyder-Smith became Elizabeth Snyder and Associates.
    In the 1970s, Snyder returned to presidential politics. She was California state chairperson of the 51.3 Percent Committee, an organization of feminists working for the Jimmy Carter for President campaign. Upon taking office in 1977, President Carter appointed Snyder to the U.S. Circuit Judge Nominating Commission.
    An outspoken feminist, Snyder remained active in women's political organizations through the 1980s, and was part of the unsuccessful campaign to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution. She actively supported the Democratic presidential ticket of Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. She died of emphysema on August 28, 1998.

    Scope and Content

    The Elizabeth Snyder Papers consist of 2 cubic feet of records covering the years 1937 to 1987, with the bulk of materials covering 1953 to 1956, when she was Chair of the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC), and 1977 to 1987, when she was active in the feminist movement in the Southern California region. The records are organized into nine distinct series: DSCC Files, Subject Files, Candidate Files, Party Platforms, Women's Issues, Events and Fundraising Files, Correspondence, Campaign Material, and Publications.
    Most of the records concern Snyder's political activities, with very little of them oriented around her personal life. The three periods most covered in the records are the early- to mid-1950s, when she was active in the DSCC and helped found the California Democratic Council (CDC); the late 1960s, when she worked on the Robert F. Kennedy presidential campaign of 1968 and the Jess Unruh gubernatorial campaign of 1970; and the late 1970s through mid-1980s, when she was active in the movement to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
    Almost all of the records are textual, consisting of memoranda, correspondence, invitations to events, campaign literature, newspaper clippings, and publications, such as magazines. Also included are campaign ephemera such as buttons and bumper stickers.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Snyder, Elizabeth, 1914-
    Democratic Party (Calif.). State Central Committee

    Related Collections at the California State Archives

    California Democratic Council Papers
    Stephen Zetterberg Papers