Inventory of the Elihu Harris Papers

Processed by Justin Salenik
California State Archives
1020 "O" Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: (916) 653-2246
Fax: (916) 653-7363
© 2007
California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the Elihu Harris Papers

Collection number: LP366

California State Archives

Office of the Secretary of State

Sacramento, California
Processed by:
Justin Salenik
Date Completed:
June 2007
Encoded by:
Sara Roberson
© 2007 California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

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

Series Descriptions

File folders: LP366:1-299

Series 1 Bill Files 1979-1990

Physical Description: 299 file folders


Bill files are arranged chronologically by legislative session and then numerically by bill number.

Scope and Content Note

Bill files were created by Elihu Harris while he served as Assembly Member, 1979-1990. The files may include bill analyses, amendments and resolutions, author's statements, testimony, press releases, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and committee statements.
1979-1980: AB823-AB3427, ACR49-ACR137 (29ff) LP366: 1-29
1981-1982: AB94-AB3807 (41ff) LP366: 30-70
1983-1984: AB6 (preprint)-AB3981, ACR17-ACR172, AJR98-AJR109, HR32-HR36, AB3X (39ff) LP366: 71-119
1985-1986: AB101-AB4299, ACR27-ACR162, AJR21-AJR22 (58ff) LP366: 120-177
1987-1988: AB33-AB4463, ACA3, ACA43, ACR2-ACR77 (78ff) LP366: 178-255
1989-1990: AB39-AB4293, ACR129 (44ff) LP366: 256-299
File folders: LP366:300-363

Series 2 Subject Files 1979-1990

Physical Description: 63 file folders


Subject Files are arranged alphabetically by subject heading.

Scope and Content Note

Subject files may contain newspaper clippings, press releases, correspondence, reports, notes, memorandums, and other materials. The subject files relate to information gathered by Harris throughout his political career and demonstrate his interest in civil rights, criminal justice, and the war on drugs. A complete list of subject headings can be found in Appendix A of the master finding aid at the California State Archives.
File folders: LP366:364-381

Series 3 Joint Legislative Audit Committee Files 1979-1990

Physical Description: 17 file folders


Files are arranged with Final Reports first, followed by Audits. Audits are arranged by audit number.

Scope and Content Note

Joint Legislative Audit Committee Files consist of the documents used by committee staff and are divided between Audits and Final Reports. The files reflect the committee's role in investigating, studying, analyzing, and assessing the financial practices and the performance of existing governmental and/or publicly created entities in California - in order to assist those entities in fulfilling the purpose for which they were created by the Legislature. Harris was Chair of this committee from 1989-1990.
File folders: LP366:382-393

Series 4 Photographs 1979-1990

Physical Description: 11 file folders containing 85 photographs, 10 proof sheets, 24 pages of negatives


Photographs are arranged by subject.

Scope and Content Note

Photographs include a wide range of professional and personal photos. Of interest are the photos that show Harris with notable people like Tip O' Neil, Desmond Tutu, and Sammy Davis, Jr. There is also a file with pictures from the Martin Luther King Jr. Day bill signing (AB312) in 1981.
File folders: LP366:394-413

Series 5 Audiovisual Materials 1979-1990

Physical Description: 11 audiotapes, 9 video tapes


Audiovisual Materials consist of video and audiotapes that are arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content Note

The audiovisual materials include interviews with Harris as well as tapes used by his staff for background information on topics like tax reform and civil rights.
File folders: LP366

Series 6 Artifacts 1979-1990

Physical Description: 3 cubic feet


A list of artifacts is located in Box 17 of the collection.

Scope and Content Note

Artifacts are made up mostly of plaques from Harris's office as well various items from his desk such as his NAACP Lifetime membership, Martin Luther King Jr. Medal from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, buttons worn by him and Governor Jerry Brown at the AB312 signing in 1982, and his voting switch panel from the Assembly floor.