Inventory of the James R. Mills Papers, 1961-1982

Processed by the California State Archives staff.
California State Archives
1020 "O" Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: (916) 653-2246
Fax: (916) 653-7363
© 2001
California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the James R. Mills Papers, 1961-1982

Identification Number: See series description.

California State Archives

Office of the Secretary of State

Sacramento, California

Contact Information:

  • California State Archives
  • 1020 "O" Street
  • Sacramento, California 95814
  • Phone: (916) 653-2246
  • Fax: (916) 653-7363
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
The California State Archives staff
Date Completed:
Encoded by:
Lucy G. Barber
© 2001 California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: James R. Mills Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1961-1982
Inventory: See series description.
Creator: Mills, James R.
Extent: 3.25 cubic feet
Repository: California State Archives
Sacramento, California
Abstract: James R. Mills, Democrat, was a member of the Assembly from 1961 to 1966 and a member of the Senate from 1967 to 1982. The John J. Mills papers consist of Assembly Bill files from 1961-1982 and photographs, 1973-1974.
Physical location: California State Archives
Language: English.

Administrative Information


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

For permission to reproduce or publish, please consult California State Archives staff. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement that may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], James R. Mills Papers, LP[number]:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

Acquisition Information

The California State Archives received a deed of gift from James R. Mills.

Processing History

This collection was processed by staff of the California State Archives over a period of time and described in a finding aid in 2001.


James R. Mills, Democrat, was a member of the Assembly from 1961 to 1966 and a member of the Senate from 1967 to 1982. As an Assembly Member, he represented the 79th District, which included downtown San Diego, North Park, and East San Diego. As a Senator, he represented the 40th District, which included from 1967 to 1975, parts of Imperial and San Diego counties. After redistricting took effect in 1975, his district was only in San Diego County.
He was born in San Diego on June 6, 1927. He attended public schools in San Diego. He received a B.A. in Social Studies and an M.A. in History from San Diego State College. He served with United States Army from 1950-1953. On January 9, 1959, he married Joanna Rohrbough. They had three children: Beatrice, William, and Eleanor. He was a teacher and historian. Before his election to the Assembly, he served as the Curator at the Serra Museum.
He was a member of the San Diego Historical Society, the American Legion, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Urban League, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Southeast San Diego Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Maritime Research Society and F. & A.M.. He also served as a contributing editor for San Diego Magazine. He wrote two books on the history of San Diego: San Diego: Where California Began and Historical Landmarks of San Diego County. He also published The Gospel According to Pontius Pilate and Poems of Inspiration from the Masters. He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Amtrak from 1980-1982.
After working as a volunteer for the California Democratic Council, Assembly Member Mills was elected to the State Assembly of California in 1960. After reapportionment opened up new seats in the Senate, he was elected to that chamber in 1966. He served as the Democratic Caucus Chairman, 1970. He was elected President pro Tempore on the Senate in January 1971 and served until January 1981.
According to the California Legislature at Sacramento (Handbooks), he served on the following committees:

Assembly, 1961-1966

Standing Committees
Constitutional Amendments, 1963-1966
Engrossment and Enrollment, 1961-1962
Chair, 1961-1962
Finance and Insurance, 1963-1966
Chair, 1963-1964
Fish and Game, 1961-1964
Industrial Relations, 1961-1962
Interstate Cooperation, 1965-1966
Legislative Representation, 1965-1966
Chair, 1965-1966
Rules, 1965-1966
Chair, 1965-1966
Social Welfare, 1961-1962
Transportation and Commerce, 1961-1962
Ways and Means, 1963
Joint Committee
Budget, 1963-1966

Senate, 1967-1982

Standing Committees
Agriculture, 1967-1970
Elections and Reapportionment, 1967-1968, 1980-1981
Chair, 1967-1968
Energy and Public Utilities, 1981-1982
Governmental Organization, 1970-1974
Industrial Relations, 1977-1978
Institutions, 1969
Insurance and Financial Institutions, 1970
Natural Resources, 1967-1968
Public Employment and Retirement, 1977-1978, 1981-1982
Public Utilities and Corporations, 1971-1974
Public Utilities, Transit, and Energy, 1975-1976
Revenue and Taxation, 1969
Rules, 1971-1980
Chair, 1971-1980
Transportation, 1967-1970, 1972-1976, 1979-1982
Water Resources, 1967-1970
Vice Chair, 1969-1970
Joint Committee
Legislative Audit, 1975-1976
After Senator Mills left office, he continued to update his history of San Diego on a regular basis. He also published an account of his first five years in Sacramento, The Disorderly House: The Brown-Unruh Years in Sacramento (Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1987).

Scope and Content

The John J. Mills papers consist of Assembly Bill files from 1961-1982 and photographs, 1973-1974. The bill files illustrate the range of interests that Assembly Member and Senator Mills brought to the Legislature. One interest was the method of governing the Legislature. He was the author of a constitutional amendment approved in 1966 that raised the salaries of members of the Legislature and provided for annual general sessions. He also supported the efforts to create an independent research service for the Legislature. In the same year, he supported ACA 13, calling for major revision of the California Constitution. His interest in effective and efficient government continued through his career. In 1977, for example, his SCR 13 required the Senate to investigate the use of sunset clauses on state agencies to determine whether such forced closures did help stem the growth of California state government. He was also concerned with equal opportunities for all Californians, including such measures as the Rumford Fair Housing Act in 1964.
He also focused on effective urban transportation; in 1971, his SB 325 was enacted. The Act lowered the state sales tax, included gasoline as a taxable item, and provided for the revenue from this new tax to be set aside for county transportation project. Some of his later efforts to increase the sales tax on gasoline failed (for example SB 100, 1975-1976 session). In the following session, his SB 76 appropriated money for bike paths to be built by state and local governments. As a member of the Senate, in 1974, he was an active supportive of Proposition 5, a Mass Transit Ballot Measure. To demonstrate the need for such measures, he rode his bicycle around the state. He is also credited with providing the needed political measures to create the San Diego Trolley, which began construction in 1979.
The series of photographs relate to his unsuccessful SB 732 (1973-1974) that would have allowed Amtrak to conduct a pilot program permitting passengers to bring their cars on the Coast Starlight Route between San Diego and Seattle.

Related Collections

Selected Publications by James R. Mills

James R. Mills, A Disorderly House: The Brown-Unruh Years in Sacramento (Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1987).
James R. Mills, "Light Rail Transit in San Diego," New Electric Railway Journal 6:3 (Spring 1994), 22-27.
James R. Mills, "The San Diego Light Rail Transit Program," Transit Australia 43:3 (March 1988), 43-50.

Oral History

An oral history of then Senator Mills was done in 1981 as part of Ronald Reagan Gubernatorial Era Oral History project: James R. Mills, A Philosophical Approach to Legislative and Election Realities, in The Assembly, the State Senate, and the Governor's Office, Oral History Interviews conducted by Gabrielle Morris and Sarah Sharp, Regional Oral History Office, the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California. This volume is available at the California State Archives (OH R-3) and other repositories.

Other Repositories

A box of materials and photographs related to the oral history of James R. Mills are on deposit at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California.
The San Diego Historical Society also has three oral histories with James R. Mills:
James R. Mills interviewed by Robert G. Wright, 28 December 1983, San Diego Historical Society, Research Archives, Oral History Program. Tape transcribed (23 pp.). Subjects include: San Diego Historical Society, Maritime Museum Association, Jerry McMullen, and city of La Jolla.
James R. Mills interviewed by Barbara Held, 23 July 1993, San Diego Historical Society, Research Archives, Oral History Program. Tape transcribed (33 pp.). Subjects include: California State Assembly, Campaigns, State Capital building restoration, San Diego Old Town, California State Legislature, and California State Senate.
A conversation between James R. Mills and Joe Jessop, recorded by F. Bruce Kimball, 1993 July 21, San Diego Historical Society, Research Archives. Tape transcribed (47 pp.). Subjects include: Maritime Museum, San Diego water front, Dutch Flats, Shelter Island, San Diego harbor, early aeronautics in San Diego, and Star of India.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been associated with these materials in the Archives' automated public access system (currently in development, November 2003).
Mills, James R., 1927-
Urban transportation - California
California. Legislature - Salaries
Bicycle trails - California

Folder LP191:141-215, LP203:25-47, LP206:29-38

Series 1. Bill Files, 1961-1982

Physical Description: 108 file folders

Scope and Content Note


Arranged chronologically by session and numerically by bill number.
The bill files created by James R. Mills concern legislation he authored. They may include bill analyses, amendments, resolutions, his statements, testimony, press releases, editorials and newspaper clippings, correspondence, committee statements, and other information.
Microfilm copies of bill files are available for the years 1967-1982 as indicated by (mf) following the LP number.
State Assembly, 1961-1966
1961-1962 AB1964, HR63X (1ff) LP191:141
1963 AB7-AB3105, ACA20 (3ff) LP191:142-144
1963 Miscellaneous, includes Fair Employment Practices Commission in San Diego(1ff) LP191:145
1964 ACR12X (1ff) LP191:146
1965 AB7X (1ff) LP191:146
1965 AB437-AB4302, ACR40-ACR157, HR399 (5ff) LP191:147-151
1965 1965 Legislature, General, includes Redistricting, Democratic Caucus Report (1ff) LP191:152
1965 Consolidation of San Diego Municipal Courts (1ff) LP191:153
1966 AB78X-AB170X, ACA13X, ACR26X, ACR71X (3 ff) LP191:154-156
State Senate, 1967-1982
1967 SB130-SB1582, SCR31, SCR87 and SR198 (1ff) LP191:157 (mf)
1967 Legislature, General (1ff) LP191:158
1968 SB64-SB969, co-authored bills (3ff) LP191:159-161 (mf)
1969 SB59-SB1035, SJR19 (2ff) LP191:162-163 (mf)
1970 SB85-SB1176, SCA18, SCA20, SCR30 (4ff) LP191:164-167 (mf)
1971 SB90-SB803, SCA26, SR221 (5ff) LP191:168-172 (mf)
1972 SB9-SB1483, SJR7, SJR17 (7ff) LP191:173-179 (mf)
1973-1974 SB78-SB2443, SCA15-SCA51, SCR34-SCR110, SJR26-SJR70, SR47-SR91 (14ff) LP191:180-193 (mf)
1975-1976 SB100-SB2074, SCR10-SCR106, SR28 (11ff) LP191:194-204 (mf)
1975 SB8XX (1ff) LP191:205 (mf)
1977-1978 SB17-SB1293, SCA45, SCR3, SCR35, SJR15-SJR16, SR25 (10ff) LP191:206-215 (mf)
1977-1978 SB1439-SB2242, SCA65, SCA67, SCR70-SCR94, SR42 (7ff) LP203:25-31 (mf)
1979-1980 SB55-SB1933, SCA31, SJR43, SR11-SR20 (17ff) LP203:32-47 (mf)
1981-1982 SB408-SB1913, SCA14, SCA30, SJR16 (10ff) LP206:29-38 (mf)
Folder LP191:183a

Series 2. Photographs, 1973-1974

Physical Description: 11 photographs

Scope and Content Note

Photographs relating to SB732 (1973-1974), an act that would have permitted the transportation of cars on passenger trains.