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National Land for People Collection csf.1987.001
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Scope and Contents
  • Related Materials
  • Historical Note
  • Processing information note
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Summary Contents List

  • Title: National Land for People collection
    Identifier/Call Number: csf.1987.001
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections Research Center, California State University, Fresno
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 25.0 Linear feet
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1972-1983
    Date (inclusive): 1850-1991
    Abstract: National Land for People, founded primarily by George Ballis and Berge Bulbulian, was a grassroots organization most active in California in the 1970s and 1980s, concerned with a number of environmental factors, most notably federal irrigation water use restrictions and the 160-acre limitation provision of the reclamation law as it applied to the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, California. The National Land for People collection measures 25 linear feet and dates from 1850 to 1991, with the bulk from 1972 to 1983. The collection is comprised of legislation and legal papers, land sales documentation, correspondence, financial statements and contracts, reports, scholastic papers, historical and background information, press releases, printed material including newsletters, brochures, propaganda, and campaign materials, maps,charts, newspaper and magazine issues and clippings, notes, photographs, books and journals, ledgers, and other assorted materials pertaining to the history and activities of the organization and some of its founding members.
    creator: Ballis, George Elfie, 1925-2010
    creator: Ballis, Maia

    Scope and Contents

    The National Land for People (NLP) Collection measures 25 linear feet and dates from 1850 to 1991 (bulk 1972 to 1983). The collection is comprised of legislation and legal papers, land sales documentation, correspondence, financial statements and contracts, reports, scholastic papers, historical and background information, press releases, printed material including newsletters, brochures, propaganda, and campaign materials, maps, charts, newspaper and magazine issues and clippings, notes, photographs, books and journals, ledgers, and other assorted materials pertaining to the history and activities of the organization and some of its founding members. The collection is arranged in seven series, as described below.
    The Reclamation, water and land issues series (1850-1984) represents the majority of the collection, measuring 16.4 linear feet, and is divided into five main sub-series, two of which can be further divided into sub-sub-series. The first sub-series is comprised of materials related to the United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation projects and can be divided into three sub-sub-series: The first, the 1902 Reclamation Act, includes legislation, historical information, violations, NLP opinions, residency information, and materials from the Pacific Legal Foundation. The second, the Central Valley Project, including general information, materials regarding the San Luis Unit and its Westlands Water District land sales and land transactions, and materials regarding the Kings River and Kern County areas of California as well as other projects throughout the state. The third sub-sub series, the Bureau of Reclamation general includes the history and general use of water in California, and Bureau of Reclamation projects in cities in California not found in the Central Valley and in other states. The second sub-series is comprised of materials related to the Imperial Irrigation District within the Bureau of Reclamation of California. The third sub-series represents the Panoche Water District, also within the jurisdiction of California's Bureau of Reclamation. The fourth sub-series is comprised of land transactions and land sales that took place outside the Westlands Water District, including railroad company land grants and land sales; and the fifth sub-series pertains to other states' reclamation and water issues and assorted other water and land issues.
    The Family versus corporate farms series (1947-1981) measures 20.5 inches and can be divided into three sub-series. The first pertains to legislation and family farm acts, the second to general information and economics of small versus large farm enterprises, and the third to corporate farms and scandals that took place in California and the United States between 1962 and 1981.
    The Legislation and politics series (1865-1981) is composed of 12.5 inches of materials relating to hearings, testimonies, and legislation (one sub-series) as well as information pertaining to political figures and their viewpoints and opinions in California, Washington, D.C., and throughout the United States.
    The fourth series, entitled Other National Land for People issues (1891-1991), is comprised of fourteen sub-series in alphabetical order, all of which pertain to activities undertaken by NLP throughout its existence. The series measures 5.25 linear feet, and its subseries are: air quality; activism and community organizing; agriculture in general and agribusiness; appropriate technology; associations and organizations; California projects; chemical farming and pesticides; co-ops and cooperative farms and funds; education; farm labor and farm mechanization; land issues including land ownership, reform, trusts, use planning, and farmland preservation; NLP general and historical information as well as materials pertaining to contacts made throughout the country and world; NLP's creations and printed material developed throughout its existence; and power and energy.
    The Rural community development series (1972-1982) represents 6.5 inches of the collection and includes reports, printed material, and correspondence pertaining to community ownership, economics of agricultural development, and other related topics.
    The sixth series, International materials (1965-1980), measures 1.5 inches and corresponds to foreign ownership of California and United States land as well as to Mexican agribusiness and legislation.
    Finally, the seventh series, Maps (1973-1985) spans the remainder of the collection, and is housed in six map tubes. This series consists of maps related to land sales and purchases, as well as assessors and land classification maps.

    Related Materials

    See also:
    The Giffen Inc. collection,1911-1983, Special Collections Research Center, Henry Madden Library, California State University, Fresno
    The John Krebs collection, part of the Central Valley Political Archive, Henry Madden Library, California State University, Fresno.
    The Kenneth L. Maddy papers, 1970-1998, bulk 1987-1995, part of the Central Valley Political Archive, Henry Madden Library, California State University, Fresno, online at http://www.cvparchive.org/pdf/maddy_finding_aid.pdf
    The Charles (Chip) Pashayan, Jr. papers, 1977-1990, part of the Central Valley Political Archive, Henry Madden Library, California State University, Fresno.
    The B. F. (Bernie) Sisk papers, 1955-1978, part of the Central Valley Political Archive, Henry Madden Library, California State University, Fresno.
    The San Joaquin Valley farm labor collection, 1947-1974, online at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf7199n8d8
    The Shimeall (Eleanor) California water collection, 1972-1995 at the University of the Pacific, online at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf7t1nb5z3
    The Paul Schuster Taylor papers, 1660-1997, bulk 1895-1984 at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, online at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf7489n98b
    The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) collection, 1965-2004, online at http://scrc.lib.csufresno.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/WILPF.pdf
    The Ben Yellen / Charles L. Smith correspondence at the Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California, San Diego, online at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt287024rm
    The Yellen Versus Imperial Irrigation District collection at the Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California, San Diego, online at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt738nf3p3
    The Ben Yellen papers, 1945-1994 at the Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California, San Diego, online at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf0r29n721

    Historical Note

    National Land for People (NLP), founded under the leadership of George and Maia Ballis, Berge Bulbulian, and a handful of others, started in the 1950s under several different names, including Western Water Resources Council, before being incorporated as the National Land for People Foundation in 1974. George Ballis, a self-described "news reporter, news editor, community and union organizer, still photographer, film maker, organic gardener-farmer, shamanic guide, and teacher," from Faribault, Minnesota, lived in Chicago and San Francisco before accepting a position as labor editor for the Valley Labor Citizen newspaper in Fresno in 1953. In this position Ballis focused on covering the issues of farm labor and farm workers of the time. In 1965 Ballis worked as a part-time labor organizer for the AFL-CIO Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), which worked with the National Farm Workers Union, led by Cesar Chavez. It was also during this time that Ballis and Berge Bulbulian became active in community organizing and that Ballis became the office manager for B. F. Sisk, who was subsequently elected to the House of Representatives to represent Fresno. Ballis was soon put in contact with Paul Taylor in Berkeley, and they began organizing around the state's water and farm labor issues. They produced maps showing the land ownership trends in the new Westlands Water District, which included many farms of surprisingly large size, including one over 110,000 acres owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company.
    This was important because the Newlands Reclamation Act, passed in 1902 to fund large irrigation projects for 16 states in the American west, stipulated that federally funded water could only be used by landholders who owned 160 acres of land or less. However, for decades, large, corporate farming enterprises, as well as the Bureau of Reclamation charged with enforcing the law, were ignoring this restriction. National Land for People used the information they had gathered and maps they had produced to bring a bill to the Senate to force the Bureau to enforce the Reclamation Act's excess land law and break up the large farms and sell them in small parcels to farm workers.
    George and Maia Ballis and National Land for People were organizing and gathering information in order to gain equality for working class people. At the same time, George Ballis was photographing farm worker conditions. He then started working with the Fresno Democratic Association, became president, and organized it into the second largest Democratic club in the state of California. When National Land for People became incorporated in 1974, Ballis and the others took their advocacy to Washington, D.C., trying court cases in an attempt to fight the injustices present in California farm labor and publicly-subsidized agriculture water. They succeeded in closing some of the loopholes in Reclamation law that allowed the Westlands Water District to remain exempt from the acreage limitations, but President Reagan thwarted National Land for People, promising that the excess land law would never be enforced. In the middle of the water fight, National Land for People started working with the University of California, Los Angeles, on a study about how the West side could be developed with small communities and small farms and succeed, and they organized farmer co-ops, consumer co-ops, and organic farm experiments. After the Reclamation Reform Act of 1982 raised the acreage limitation to 960, they realized that they would never win the big fight against the government and large, corporate farms, and so instead re-focused their energies on other initiatives. National Land for People converted over the course of the late 1970s and 1980s into Sun Mountain, George and Maia Ballis's artistic and environmental endeavor stressing eco-friendly technology, food and energy alternatives, organic gardening, community activism and organizing, and other related issues. George Ballis died in 2010. Maia Ballis continues the legacy of Sun Mountain in Tollhouse, California.

    Processing information note

    Processing of the National Land for People collection was generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The Henry Madden Library at California State University, Fresno, was awarded a Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from 2010-2012, "Uncovering California's Environmental Collections," in collaboration with eight additional special collections and archival repositories throughout the state and the California Digital Library (CDL). Grant objectives included processing of over 33 hidden collections related to the state's environment and environmental history. The collections document an array of important sub-topics such as irrigation, mining, forestry, agriculture, industry, land use, activism and research. Together they form a multifaceted picture of the natural world and the way it was probed, altered, exploited and protected in California over the twentieth century. Finding aids are made available through the Online Archive of California (OAC).

    Conditions Governing Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The library can only claim physical ownership of the collection. Users are responsible for satisfying any claimants of literary property.

    Preferred Citation

    National Land for People collection, Special Collections Research Center, Henry Madden Library, California State University, Fresno.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The collection was donated by George and Maia Ballis in 1987.

    Summary Contents List

    Reclamation, water and land issues, 1850-1984 Boxes 1-19
    Family vs. corporate farms, 1947-1981 Boxes 19-20
    Legislation and politics, 1865-1981 Boxes 21-22
    Other National Land for People issues, 1891-1991 Boxes 22-28
    Rural community development, 1972-1982 Box 28
    International materials, 1965-1980 Box 28
    Maps, 1973-1985 Tubes 1-6

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Alinsky, Saul David, 1909-1972
    American Agri-Women.
    American Farm Bureau Federation.
    Anderson, Jack
    Andrus, Cecil D., 1931-
    Baillie, Jack T.
    Baldoni, Kathleen
    Barnes, Peter, 1942-
    Barry, Frank J.
    Bonadelle, John
    Boswell, James Griffin
    Bowker, Victor
    Brazilian Land and Cattle Company.
    Brody, Ralph M., 1912-
    Brown, Clayton
    Brown, George Edward, 1920-1999
    Brown, Jerry, 1938-
    Brown, Willie L., 1934-
    Bulbulian, Berge
    Burns, Hugh M., 1902-
    Burton, John, 1932-
    Burton, Phillip, 1926-1983
    Bush, George, 1924-
    California Women for Agriculture.
    California. Bureau of Reclamation.
    California. Office of Appropriate Technology.
    Carr family
    Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
    Chapman, Oscar J., (Oscar James), 1907-1994
    Chavarria family
    Chavez, Cesar, 1927-1993
    Church, F. Forrester
    Clark, Allen W.
    Clark, Norman
    Cochran, Dwight M.
    Coelho, Tony, 1942-
    Cole, Bert L., 1910-
    Combs family
    Control Data Corporation.
    Cranston, Alan MacGregor
    De La Cruz, Jessie Lopez, 1919-
    Del Monte Corporation.
    Denton, John H.
    Di Giorgio Fruit Corporation.
    Di Giorgio, Joseph
    Diener, Frank C.
    Diener, Octavia
    Diener, Paul Ernst
    DiMare family
    Dixon, Barbara
    Donaghy family
    Donna Martin
    E. F. Schumacher Society.
    Ecklund, James
    Enos, Larry J.
    Environmental Action Foundation.
    Eu, March Fong
    Farm/Water Alliance.
    Findley, Paul, 1921-
    Fisher, Hugo B.
    Fortune family
    Frampton, Mary Louise
    Fresno bee. (Fresno, Calif.)
    Frito-Lay, Inc.
    Giovannetti family
    Goldschmidt, Walter, 1913-2010
    Greene, Sheldon
    Griswold, Erwin N., (Erwin Nathaniel), 1904-1994
    Groefsema family
    Haley, James Andrew, 1899-1981
    Hammonds family
    Hammonds Ranch.
    Haskell, Floyd K., 1916-1998
    Hernandez, Gloria
    Hess, Karl, 1923-1994
    Hickel, Walter J., 1919-2010
    Holland, David W., agricultural economist
    Houlding family
    Jackson, Henry M., (Henry Martin), 1912-1983
    Jansen, Robert B., 1922-
    Jiminez, Ray
    Johnson, James P., 1930-
    Kennedy, John F., (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
    Kirihara, Jake
    Kirshner, Edward M.
    Kline, Allan
    Krebs, Albert, 1932-2007
    Krebs, John Hans, 1926-
    Kuchel, Thomas H.
    Lange, Dorothea
    Lara family
    Lasher, Marc
    Lee, Clifford
    Lehman, Richard, 1948-
    Lowe, Jim
    Lynch, William B.
    MacDiarmid, John MacLeod
    Maddy, Kenneth L.
    Magneson, Charles
    Martin, Arnold
    McAfee, Rodger
    McCloskey, Michael
    McGovern, George S., (George Stanley), 1922-
    Meeds, Lloyd, 1927-2005
    Mendelsohn, Robert H., 1938-
    Metzler family
    Mexican American Political Association. (Calif.)
    Michalowski, Judy
    Miller, George, 1945-
    Milliman, Jerome W.
    Mink, Patsy T., 1927-2002
    Moore, Charles V.
    Morton, Rogers C.B., (Rogers Clark Ballard), 1914-1979
    National Family Farm Coalition. (U.S.)
    National Land for People.
    Nesmith, David
    Nieman family
    O'Neill family
    Pashayan, Charles "Chip", 1941-
    Pasnick, Vic
    Perkins, Robert M.
    Pilibos family
    Planet Drum Foundation.
    Plaza family
    Randolph, Jennings, 1902-1998
    Reagan, Ronald
    Reed, A. Doyle
    Ritchie, Mark
    Rominger, Richard Elmer, 1927-
    San Francisco Examiner.
    Schild, Neil W.
    Schulz, Orissa M.
    Seaton, Fred A., (Fred Andrew), 1909-1974
    Shafer, Mark
    Sharp, Margaret
    Shelley, John Francis, 1905-1974
    Smith, Charles L.
    Southern Pacific Railroad Company.
    Stamenson, Gus
    Stamm, Gilbert G., 1911-
    Steiner, Wesley E.
    Stone, Jack
    Sun Maid Growers of California.
    Sun Mountain.
    Sunkist Growers, inc.
    Taylor, Paul Schuster, 1895-1984
    Telles family
    Temple, Betsy
    Thurman, John E.
    Udall, Morris K.
    Udall, Stewart L.
    United Farm Workers Union.
    United States. Bureau of Reclamation.
    United States. Congress. House.
    United States. Congress. Senate.
    United States. Department of Justice.
    United States. Department of the Interior.
    United States. Farmers Home Administration.
    United States. General Accounting Office.
    United States. Western Area Power Administration.
    University of California, Berkeley.
    University of California, Davis.
    University of California, Santa Cruz. Agroecology Program.
    Unruh, Jesse, 1922-1987
    Valley labor citizen. (Fresno, Calif.)
    Vanik, Charles A., 1913-2007
    Villarejo, Don
    Von Flue family
    Watt, James G., 1938-
    Watts, Raymond D.
    Weaver, James H., 1927-
    Weidert, John
    Westlands Water District.
    Westlands Water District.
    Westside Planning Group.
    White, Byron R., 1917-2002
    Whitehurst, Dan, 1948-
    Williams, Joe
    Williamson, Ann
    Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
    Woodring, Harry Hines, 1887-1967
    Woolf, Jack
    Yellen, Ben, 1907-1994
    Young Democrats of America.
    Young, Douglas Leonard
    Agricultural laborers--California
    Agricultural laborers--California --Economic conditions
    Agricultural laborers--Mexico
    Agricultural laborers--United States
    Agriculture--California--Central Valley (Valley)
    Agriculture--California--Fresno County
    Agriculture--California--Imperial Valley
    Agriculture--Economic aspects--California
    Agriculture--Economic aspects--United States
    Air quality--California
    Appropriate technology--United States
    Berkeley (Calif.)
    Caruthers (Calif.)
    Chico (Calif.)
    Cooperative societies--California
    Davis (Calif.)
    Del Rio (Calif.)
    Drought relief--California
    Education--United States--Caricatures and cartoons
    Education--United States--Information resources
    Family farms--California
    Farm corporations--California
    Farm mechanization--California
    Freedom of information--United States
    Fresno (Calif.)
    Grass Valley (Calif.)
    Huron (Calif.)
    Kings County (Calif.)
    Lanare (Calif.)
    Land grants--California--History
    Land grants--United States
    Land ownership--California--Maps
    Land reform--United States
    Land reform--United States--History--Congresses
    Land titles--Registration and transfer--California
    Land trusts--California
    Land trusts--United States
    Land use--Planning
    Lemoore (Calif.)
    Los Angeles (Calif.)
    Mendota (Calif.)
    Organizing and managing public services
    Palo Alto (Calif.)
    Parlier (Calif.)
    Power resources--California
    Public records--Law and legislation--California
    Public records--Research--United States--Directories
    Reclamation of land--California
    Reclamation of land--United States--Congresses
    Reclamation of land--United States--History
    Sacramento (Calif.)
    San Diego (Calif.)
    San Francisco (Calif.)
    San Jose (Calif.)
    Santa Cruz (Calif.)
    Three Rocks (Calif.)
    Tulare (Calif.)
    Uncovering California's Environmental Collections Project
    Washington (D.C.)
    Water districts--California
    Water rights--California
    Water rights--California--San Joaquin Valley--History
    Water use--California
    Water use--California--Central Valley (Valley)
    Water use--California--San Joaquin Valley
    Water--Law and legislation--California
    Water--Law and legislation--United States
    Water--United States
    Westlands Water District
    Whitesbridge (Calif.)