Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the Janet Gray Hayes Papers
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing History
  • Biographical History
  • Bibliography
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Subject Headings

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Janet Gray Hayes Papers
    Dates: 1914-2002
    Bulk Dates: 1974-1982
    Collection number: MSS-2002-01
    Creator: Hayes, Janet Gray, 1926-
    Collection Size: 12 boxes (8.5 linear feet)
    Repository: San Jose State University. Library.
    San Jose, California 95192-0028
    Abstract: In 1974 Janet Gray Hayes became mayor of San Jose, California and the first female elected to the office of mayor of a large American city. She was overwhelmingly reelected to a second term, and served as mayor until 1982. Prior to her groundbreaking election in 1974, she won a seat on the San Jose City Council and also served as vice mayor. This collection documents her political trajectory from 1974-1982. During her tenure as mayor she focused on urban development issues and smart growth planning, and was very responsive to increased citizen access to the mayor's office. Hayes became an important role model for women in politics, her success in government represented a watershed for politically minded women in the region, and the Santa Clara Valley became know as the "Feminist Capital of the World." This collection consists of administrative files, election materials, personal files, and public relations materials, most of which were amassed while Hayes served as city council member, vice mayor, and mayor of San Jose.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    The collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the San Jose State University Library Special Collections & Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Special Collections & Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital reproductions of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    Janet Gray Hayes Papers, MSS-2002-01, San Jose State University Library Special Collections and Archives.

    Processing History

    Processed by Jennifer E. Johnson, 2007. EAD encoded by Jennifer E. Johnson, 2007. Reviewed by Danelle Moon, 2007.

    Biographical History

    Janet Gray (Frazee) Hayes was born in 1926 in Rushville, Indiana, the second of two daughters born to John P. Frazee, Jr. and Lucile Charman Gray Frazee. Raised in an active Republican family, Hayes was introduced to politics at a young age. In 1940 the Frazee family home became an official campaign base for Wendell Wilkie, the Republican presidential nominee. Wilkie carried his home state of Indiana, but was overwhelmingly defeated by the Democratic candidate, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Wilkie experience introduced Hayes to the political campaign process.
    Hayes was named valedictorian of her high school class and went on to attend the University of Indiana. While in college she became a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta social sorority serving as the organization's vice president and then president. She was also very active in the local YWCA. Hayes was selected for Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year, and Mortar Board her senior year. In 1948 she graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in Liberal Arts. After graduation, she received a scholarship to attend the University of Chicago, where she graduated with a master's degree in Social Service Administration, again magna cum laude. While attending graduate school she met Kenneth Hayes, a medical student, and in 1950 they were married.
    While Kenneth completed his medical degree Hayes took a position as a psychiatric social worker in Chicago, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of poverty in the communities she served. This experience shaped her political views and would later inspire her to run for public office. Hayes left social work to start a family, and in 1952 gave birth to first daughter, Lindy. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Denver, where Kenneth completed his residency. It was in Denver that their first and only son, John, was born. Following the conclusion of his residency, the Hayes family moved to San Jose, California, where Dr. Hayes accepted a position at the Agnew State Hospital. Daughters Katherine and Megan were both born in San Jose.
    Upon arrival in California, Hayes quickly developed community roots and an interest in politics. She registered to vote as an Independent, but quickly realized that she was not eligible to vote in the primary elections and officially registered as a Democrat. She became active in the PTA and later with the League of Women Voters (LWV), serving as president of the organization for a time. The LWV provided her with important base for her future political career. Her first introduction to city politics was as a concerned mother; while pregnant with her daughter Megan she beseeched the San Jose City Council to consider placing a traffic signal or a crossing guard at a busy intersection that her children crossed every day on their way to school. The council promised that they would act before the beginning of the next school year, although a light was not installed until after Hayes was elected mayor of San Jose in 1974.
    By the 1960s Hayes became an important member of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency and later served as its first female chair. She was also the first woman appointed to the local YMCA board of directors. Her experiences in predominantly male agencies led her to run for a seat on the city council in attempt to provide a voice for other women in San Jose. Her civic involvement paid off and she was elected to a four-year term on the San Jose City Council. Hayes served as a council member from 1971 until 1973, and from 1973 to 1974 she served as vice mayor under Mayor Norman Mineta.
    By 1973 Hayes had grown from a socially active housewife to vice mayor of one of the largest cities in the nation. In 1974 Hayes decided to run for mayor of San Jose. She ran a grassroots campaign with the help of over 1,000 volunteers who canvassed the city on her behalf. Hayes ran on a platform of controlled growth, urging voters to "make San Jose better before we make it bigger." As part of her campaign, and in effort to make herself more accessible to voters, she created a telephone hotline connected to her election headquarters so that voters could directly voice topics of concern. Hayes won the race, earning 1,667 votes more than her opponent, former chief of detectives, Bart Collins. With this victory, Hayes became the first woman to be elected mayor of a large American city.
    At a time when sexism and gender discrimination permeated state and national politics, Hayes' watershed victory generated local and national press. Many wondered how to address the woman mayor, though she consistently informed the press and others that "Madame Mayor" would suffice. In terms of policy, she championed controlled urban growth, restored historic buildings, and helped transform San Jose into a model city. By 1977 New West magazine had voted San Jose the second most livable city in the west. Impressed with her accomplishments, then California governor Jerry Brown appointed Hayes chairperson of his Urban Development Advisory Committee in anticipation that she might do the same for the state. Hayes also kept her promises regarding citizen access to the mayor's office. She held semi-monthly open houses at city hall, and continued her successful hotline concept once elected, this time dubbing the service "Dial-a-Mayor."
    1978 would prove to be one of the most challenging years that Hayes would face in office. For the first time since joining the San Jose City Council in 1971, she voted to support a Gay Pride week, though she later reversed her vote after pressure from local religious groups. At this time Hayes also came out against Proposition 13, a property tax reduction initiative overwhelmingly passed by California voters. In the same year she sought reelection; her campaign against City Council member Al Garza was fierce and at times bitter. After facing a runoff election, Hayes triumphed, winning over 70 percent of the vote.
    Hayes received tremendous publicity as the first female mayor of San Jose, and nationally as Santa Clara County edged into the national political landscape as the "Feminist Capital of the World." Hayes' favorable publicity, combined with the success of other female candidates across the U.S. led a number of national magazines to run stories on the role of women, feminism, and politics. Time, People, U.S. News and World Report, and even some international papers carried stories highlighting the success of these female candidates. Hayes was featured in a number of articles, alongside Diane Feinstein of San Francisco, Jane Byrne of Chicago, Isabella Cannon of Raleigh, North Carolina, Carole McClellan of Austin, Texas, and Margaret T. Hance of Phoenix, Arizona. In 1979 U.S. News and World Report ran a story highlighting the recent victories of women in politics across the nation. According to the report, 750 cities out of 18,800 municipalities had female mayors-clearly women were making inroads into politics at all levels. From 1975 to 1979 the number of women in public office increased from 4.7 percent to 10.9 percent, with the largest increase at the local and state levels. Hayes' greatest legacy remains her support of women in local government, and her commitment to gender equality.
    Hayes' competency and leadership enabled her to be elected to the eleven-member Executive Board of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a post that elevated San Jose's national esteem, and enhanced Hayes' access to the Carter administration. She received numerous honors and awards for her contribution to politics. In 1975 she received the "Woman of Achievement Award" from the San Jose Mercury News and in 1976 she received the San Jose "Anti-Defamation League Award." Hayes was named to the delegation supporting Governor Jerry Brown at the Democratic National Convention in New York City, and was the only woman on a list of mayors submitted as possible vice presidential candidates. In 1977 a Decision Research Institute survey of Santa Clara County voters ranked Hayes as the most admired politician in the region. At the local level, Hayes helped bring comparable worth issues to the fore. When local women held a strike in 1981 after a survey revealed gender pay discrimination in San Jose, Hayes flew to New York with a union negotiator to appear on The Today Show. Her appearance elevated the issue of comparable worth to the national level.
    By the time she left office in 1983, Hayes had blazed a trail for women in politics throughout the Santa Clara Valley and indeed the nation. Though she never went on to run for another public post, Hayes continued to serve the public. After her tenure as mayor, Hayes was active with the San Jose Art Museum, and served on many boards and councils, including the Association of Bay Area Governments, and the Santa Clara County Intergovernmental Council. She also served as a community and customer relations director for a consulting firm that served the high-tech industry in the Silicon Valley.


    Flammang, Janet A. 1985. Female officials in the feminist capital: The case of Santa Clara County. Western Political Quarterly, 38 (1), 94-118.

    Matthews, Glenna. 2003. Silicon Valley, women, and the California dream: gender, class, and opportunity in the twentieth century. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

    Williams, Barbara. 1979. Breakthrough: Women in politics. New York: Walker and Company.

    Scope and Content

    The Janet Gray Hayes Papers document the historical significance of Hayes' mayoralty in state and national politics and her influence in bringing other women into local government. Hayes was pivotal in popularizing the Santa Clara Valley's reputation as the "Feminist Capital of the World." Items in this collection also detail Hayes' commitment to improving citizen access to the mayor's office, reducing crime, and promoting controlled urban growth in San Jose. The Janet Gray Hayes Papers are organized into four series: Administrative Files, Campaign & Election Materials, Personal Materials, and Public Relations Materials.


    The Janet Gray Hayes Papers are organized into four series: Series I: Administrative Files; Series II: Campaign & Election Materials; Series III: Personal Materials; Series IV: Public Relations Materials.

    Subject Headings

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    California -- Politics and government
    Hammer, Susan
    Hayes, Janet Gray
    Mayors -- California -- San Jose
    Mineta, Norman Yoshio, 1931
    San Jose (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century
    Women in politics -- California -- History