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Inventory of the Elihu Harris Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • State Assembly, 1979-1990
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Elihu Harris Papers
    Dates: 1979-1990
    Collection number: LP366
    Creator: Elihu Harris, California Legislator
    Collection Size: 19 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: The Elihu Harris Papers consist of 19 cubic feet of records reflecting Harris's activities during his Assembly career. The collection contains Bill Files, 1979-1990; Subject Files, 1979-1990; Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) Files, 1988-1990; Photographs, 1979-1990; Audiovisual Materials, 1979-1990; and Artifacts, 1979-1990.
    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], Elihu Harris Papers, LP366:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition and Custodial History

    The California State Archives acquired the Elihu Harris Papers following his final term in the State Legislature.


    Elihu Harris, Democrat, was a California State Assembly Member from 1979-1990, representing the 13th Assembly District. The 13th Assembly District included parts of the cities of Berkeley and Oakland and the entire cities of Alameda and Emeryville.
    Elihu Harris was born on August 15, 1947 in Los Angeles, California. He attended public schools in Berkeley, California after moving there at an early age. After graduating from Berkeley High School in 1965, he attended California State University, Hayward. He served as student body vice president and received a B.A. with honors in political science. Harris went on to receive a Master's Degree in Public Administration from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1969, and a Juris Doctorate from University of California, Davis, in 1972.
    His first job in politics was as an administrative assistant to California Assembly Member John L. Miller. He would move on to serve as a legislative assistant for Congresswoman Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. In 1975, he was appointed Executive Director of the National Bar Association in Washington, D.C. Two years later, he left Washington for a private law practice in California. In 1978, Harris was elected to the Assembly to represent the 13th District. He married Kathy Neal in 1983.
    Harris is associated with several organizations like the NAACP, California Association of Black Lawyers, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Charles Houston Bar Association, and Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church. He also served as a board member for the Alameda Boys Club and Family Services of Berkeley and as Chairman of the Black American Political Association of California.
    As an Assembly Member, Harris's interests were civil rights, criminal justice, poverty, tax reform and transportation. Serving as Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee from 1980-1988 allowed him to play a key role in the rules and regulation of the criminal justice system. His legislation created the Martin Luther King Jr. state holiday. Harris left the Assembly in 1990 and was elected Mayor of Oakland that same year.
    According to the California Legislature at Sacramento (Handbooks) and the California Blue Book, Harris served on the following committees:

    State Assembly, 1979-1990

    • Standing and Interim Committees
    • Constitutional Amendments, 1979-1980
    • Criminal Justice, 1979-1984
    • Earthquake Preparedness and Natural Disasters, 1989-1990
    • Economic Development and Planning, 1981-1982
    • Economic Development and New Technologies, 1983-1986
    • Finance and Insurance, 1983-1984
    • Governmental Organization, 1985-1988
    • Health, 1989-1990
    • Judiciary, 1981-1990
    • *Chair, 1981-1988
    • Labor and Employment, 1979-1982
    • Public Investments, Finance and Bonded Indebtedness, 1985-1986
    • Revenue and Taxation, 1987-1988
    • Transportation, 1979- 1982, 1985-1990
    • *Vice Chair, 1979-1980
    • Utilities and Commerce, 1987-1988
    • Ways and Means, 1989-1990
    • Subcommittees
    • Subcommittee #2- Education, 1989-1990
    • Subcommittee on Administration of Justice, 1985-1988
    • Subcommittee on Air Quality, 1979-1980
    • Subcommittee on Arts and Athletics, 1987-1988
    • Subcommittee on County Justice System Subvention Program, 1979-1980
    • Subcommittee on International Trade, Investment and Tourism, 1985-1986
    • Subcommittee on Investment Practices, 1987-1988
    • Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice, 1981-1982
    • Subcommittee on Organized Crime and Gang Violence, 1987-1990
    • Subcommittee on Sports and Entertainment, 1985-1986
    • Subcommittee on Toll Bridges, 1987-1988
    • Subcommittee on Toxic Substances, 1979-1980
    • Subcommittee on Worker's Compensation, 1983-1984
    • Select Committees (General Research Committees)
    • Select Committee on Ethics, 1989-1990
    • Select Committee on Fair Employment Practices
    • *Chair, 1979-1982
    • Select Committee on Insurance, 1985-1986
    • Select Committee on Judicial Efficiency and Improvement
    • *Chair, 1983-1984
    • Select Committee on Oversight of the Office of Administrative Law, 1983-1984
    • Select Committee on Refugee Resettlement, International Migration and Cooperative Development, 1989-1990
    • Select Committee on Revision of the Penal Code, 1981-1988
    • Select Committee on Small Business, 1981-1982
    • Select Committee on Tort Liability, 1989-1990
    • Select Committee on Youth and Drug Abuse Prevention, 1989-1990
    • Joint Committees
    • Joint Legislative Audit Committee
    • *Chair, 1989-1990
    • Joint Study Committee on Worker's Compensation, 1983-1984
    • Additional Committees
    • Legislative Task Force on AIDS Vaccine Injury Compensation Review, 1989-1990
    • California Law Revision Commission, 1987-1990
    • Commission on Uniform State Laws, 1981-1990
    • Judicial Council, 1981-1988
    • Public Procurement Advisory Committee, 1983-1986
    • Special Legislative Investigating Committee on the State Bar, 1981-1982

    Scope and Content

    The Elihu Harris Papers consist of 19 cubic feet of records reflecting Harris's activities during his Assembly career. The collection contains Bill Files, 1979-1990; Subject Files, 1979-1990; Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) Files, 1988-1990; Photographs, 1979-1990; Audiovisual Materials, 1979-1990; and Artifacts, 1979-1990.
    The bill files document Harris's legislative activity during his term as a member of the California State Legislature. While the bills introduced by Elihu Harris include a wide array of subjects, his primary concerns included criminal justice, tax reform, civil rights and gun control. The subject files provide further detail on Harris's work regarding civil rights, the war on drugs, poverty, and the justice system. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee Files provide a look at the activities of the JLAC that Harris chaired from 1989-1990.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Harris, Elihu M.
    Discrimination Law and legislation
    Gun control