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Inventory of the Pauline L. Davis Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • California State Assembly, 1952-1976
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Additional Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Pauline L. Davis papers
    Dates: 1954-1976
    Collection number: LP364
    Creator: Davis, Pauline L.
    Collection Size: 2.5 cubic feet.
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: The Pauline L. Davis Papers consist of 2.5 cubic feet of records reflecting Davis' activities during her 25-year Assembly career. The records contain Bill Files, 1961-1976; Subject Files, 1954-1976; and Committee Hearing Files, 1954-1974.
    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], Pauline L. Davis papers, LP364:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition Information

    California State Archives acquired the Pauline L. Davis Papers following her final term in the California State Legislature.


    Pauline L. Davis, Democrat, was a California State Assembly Member from 1952-1976, the longest-serving woman in California's State Assembly. In 1952, Davis succeeded her late husband, Assembly Member Lester Davis, Sr., by election to serve California's 2nd Assembly District. The 2nd Assembly District included cities within Trinity, Shasta, Siskiyou, Modoc, Lassen, Plumas, and Sierra Counties. Following redistricting in 1966, she represented California's 1st Assembly District. This district, the largest in California, encompassed more than 32,000 square miles in Del Norte, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity, and Humboldt counties. She served the 1st Assembly District until 1976.
    Pauline Davis was born on January 3, 1917 in Verdigre, Nebraska. She attended the public schools of Fremont, Nebraska, and colleges in Sacramento, California. Davis worked as a traffic operator for Bell Telephone Company in Omaha, Nebraska before moving to California and serving as a dispatcher for Western Pacific Railroad in Stockton. Davis had three children with Lester Davis, Sr.: Karen Joyce, Marlene Kaye, and John Rodney. She was a member of Eastern Star, Portola, California; White Shrine of Jerusalem, Beckwourth, California; Business and Professional Women's Club, Yreka, California; Soroptomists; and served as a Past President of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen. Davis died December 14, 1995, in Sacramento.
    As an Assembly member, Davis' interests included water development, recreation, fish and wildlife enhancement, emergency flood and relief laws, highway safety laws, problems of the lumber industry, and enhancement of youth programs at local fairs. She was the first Assembly member from the 1st Assembly District in over 30 years to serve on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, and was the only woman to chair the Assembly Committee on Conservation and Wildlife. Sometimes called the "Lady of the Lakes," Davis' efforts to promote water development and water quality control earned her a place of recognition in the Department of Water Resources' "California Water Heroes" Display at the California State Fair in 2006. Among her other activities as an Assembly member, Davis helped author two highly influential pieces of water legislation: the Davis-Grunsky Act (Stats 1959 ch. 1752) and the Davis-Dolwig Act (Stats 1961 ch. 867). The Davis-Grunsky Act established a statewide financial assistance program for local public agencies to better develop, control, and conserve California's water resources. The Davis-Dolwig Act provided that the interests of recreation and fish and wildlife be recognized as part of the State Water Project, making the enhancement and preservation of fish and wildlife within the State Water Project the responsibility of the Department of Water Resources.
    Davis also served as the Secretary of the Democratic Caucus, 1961-1965, and as the Assembly's Assistant Speaker pro Tempore, 1975-1976.
    According to the California Legislature at Sacramento (Handbooks) and the California Blue Book, Davis served on the following committees:

    California State Assembly, 1952-1976

    • Standing Committees
    • Conservation and Wildlife, 1965-1967
    • * Chair, 1965-1967
    • Conservation and Natural Resources, 1969
    • Conservation, Planning, and Public Works, 1953-1958
    • Education, 1953-1958
    • Elections and Reapportionment, 1953-1954
    • * Vice Chair, 1953-1954
    • Fish and Game, 1953-1963
    • * Vice Chair, 1955-1958
    • * Chair, 1959-1963
    • Health, 1971-1974
    • Industrial Relations, 1965
    • Local Government, 1976
    • Natural Resources and Conservation, 1971-1974
    • Natural Resources, Planning, and Public Works, 1963
    • Resources and Land Use, 1975
    • Rules, 1975-1976
    • Water, 1959-1974, 1976
    • Ways and Means, 1959-1976
    • Subcommittees
    • Subcommittee on Beaches and Parks, 1954
    • * Chair, 1954
    • Subcommittee on Conservation and Wildlife, 1969
    • * Chair, 1969
    • Subcommittee on Water, 1975
    • Select Committees
    • Select Committee on North Coast Timber Economy, 1974
    • Select Committee on Western States Forest Industries Task Force, 1976
    • Joint Committees
    • Joint Budget Committee, 1974-1976
    • Joint Fairs Allocation and Classification Committee, 1967-1976
    • * Chair, 1974-1976
    • Joint Interim Committee of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Levee Recreation Study Committee, 1961
    • Joint Interim Committee on Water Problems, 1958
    • Additional committees
    • Wildlife Conservation Board, 1961-1976

    Scope and Content

    The Pauline L. Davis Papers consist of 2.5 cubic feet of records reflecting Davis' activities during her 25-year Assembly career. The records contain Bill Files, 1961-1976; Subject Files, 1954-1976; and Committee Hearing Files, 1954-1974.
    The bill files document Davis' legislative activity during her term as a member of the California State Legislature. While the bills introduced by Pauline Davis include a wide array of subjects, Davis' primary concerns included water conservation and development, parks and recreation, and state disaster assistance for local agencies. The subject files provide further detail on Davis' work regarding water development and conservation. The committee hearing files series includes transcripts and minutes from various committee hearings attended by Davis, and further reflects her commitment to water development, fish and wildlife enhancement, and recreation activities.


    The collection is organized into three series: Bill Files, 1961-1976; Subject Files, 1954-1976; and Committee Hearing Files, 1954-1974.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Davis, Pauline L.
    Water conservation
    California State Water Project

    Additional Information

    Pauline Davis, Oral History Interview, conducted 1977, 1979, and 1982 by Malca Chall, Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley. Sealed until 2010.
    Hearing of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics in regard to Assemblywoman Pauline L. Davis and Assemblyman Lawrence W. Townsend, August 10, 1971. Reporter's Transcript of Proceedings. Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics Records, LP202:173, California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.