Oral History Guide Interview Summaries



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Oral history interviews conducted by the Regional Oral History Office are available to view in the California State Archives Research Room. Copyright laws limit the number of pages the California State Archives can reproduce from these volumes. Researchers must contact the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley to obtain full transcripts of these volumes.


Interview Summaries (W)

Waldie, Jerome R. (OH 89–18)

Oral History Interview with Jerome R. Waldie. (1987). Assembly Member, 1959–1966; U.S. Representative, 1966–1974.

Waldie discusses politics in Contra Costa County as well as in the California Democratic Council. He covers his career in the Assembly where he served on the committees for Education, Ways and Means, Judiciary, Rules, and Criminal Reform. He was active in issues concerning retarded children's services, mental health, and water. In Congress, he served on the Post Office, Public Works, and Judiciary committees. After leaving Congress he was appointed to the California Fair Political Practices Commission and later, to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board. He offers observations on Don Allen, Pat Brown, Jerry Brown, Phil Burton, Clair Engle, George Miller, Jr., Nicholas Petris, David Sterling, Jesse Unruh and other California political figures.

Transcript price: (187 pp.) $27.00



Walker, Robert C. (OH R–19)

"Political Advising and Advocacy for Ronald Reagan," Internal and External Operations of the California Governor's Office, 1966–1974. (1982, 1983). Director, Dept. of Navigation and Ocean Development, 1970–1971.

Walker worked for Governor Reagan in several different roles: as head of the state Dept. of Navigation and Ocean Development, in charge of San Diego and Imperial Counties during the 1970 Reagan campaign for re–election, and as an assistant to the administration on plans for welfare reform and legislative reapportionment.

Contact the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library to purchase a copy of this transcript.



Walsh, Lawrence (OH 93–05)

Oral History Interview with Lawrence Walsh. (1990). Senator, 1967–1974.

Walsh discusses his family and early life, military service, and employment history. He talks about his start in politics at the local level and his first campaign for city council. He then comments on deciding to run for the state senate and the lack of issues during the primary campaign. He speaks of his endorsements from labor organizations and newspapers as well as his election and his senate colleagues. He discusses senate leadership, his legislation, the effects of redistricting, his committee assignments, and transportation issues–particularly as relating to freeways. He also mentions his defeat in the race for lieutenant governor and leaving political office.

Transcript price: (276 pp.) $30.00



Walton, Frank J. (OH R–14)

"Transportation Policies and the Politics of Conservation, 1964–1974," Governor Reagan's Cabinet and Agency Administration. (1983). Secretary, Business and Transportation Agency, 1971–1974.

Among the Business and Transportation issues Walton describes are the creation of an unified Dept. of Transportation from several overlapping existing departments and the agency's strategies for dealing with President Nixon's impounding of federal funds. Walton recalls discussions as to where the administration might go in its final years, that government always talks about alleviating taxes. Reagan gave him the responsibility for seeing what could be done. Out of this came an extensive task–force study, chaired by Lewis Uhler, and eventually Proposition 1, the tax–limitation initiative of 1973.

Contact the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library to purchase a copy of this transcript.



Walton, Rus (OH R–19)

"Turning Political Ideas into Government Program," Internal and External Operations of the California Governor's Office, 1966–1974. (1983). Program Development Secretary, 1969–1971.

Walton felt strongly about highway safety. He became assistant to Business and Transportation Agency Secretary Gordon Luce. Walton soon was asked to draft reports and speeches for the governor. After the 1968 convention, Walton headed a new unit in the governor's office called program development.

Contact the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library to purchase a copy of this transcript.



Warne, William E. (OH KB–7)

"Administration of the Dept. of Water Resources, 1961–1966," California Water Issues, 1950–1966. (1979). Director, 1961–1966.

After the $1.75–billion California Water Bond measure was approved by voters in November 1960, the next major step was the construction of the State Water Project itself. Warne's responsibility was to reorganize the Dept. of Water Resources so that it could build as well as plan a project of the scope envisioned in the Burns–Porter Act: the massive Oroville Dam and a series of smaller dams, 540 miles of aqueduct, the pumping plants and power plants, the San Luis Reservoir in partnership with the federal government, all designed to provide water for urban, recreation, and irrigation uses from Plumas County in the north, over the Tehachapi Mountains to Riverside County in the south. There were concomitant sensitive political relationships: On the state level he was in touch with the governor and his staff and with state legislators on various administrative, financial, and legislative matters. On the local and regional level he dealt with large and small landowners and water users, and with officers and staff of the Metropolitan Water District about construction plans and water rates as well as with San Joaquin and Delta agricultural and industry interests concerned with the Drain and the Peripheral Canal. On the federal level he met often with congressmen and officials in the Dept. of the Interior about the San Luis Reservoir, the Pacific Southwest Water Plan, California's projected loss of 500,000 acre–feet of water from the Colorado River, and the eventual building of Auburn Dam and other adjuncts to the Central Valley Project. He was, furthermore, a member of many committees and commissions, one of which was the State Water Pollution (later Water Quality) Control Board where he was concerned with ensuring the quality as well as the quantity of water along the California Aqueduct.

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Warren, Charles H. (OH R–10)

"From the California Assembly to the Council on Environmental Quality, 1962–1979: The Evolution of an Environmentalist," Democratic Party Politics and Environmental Issues in California, 1962–1976. (1982). Assembly Member, 1963–1977.

When Warren was elected to the assembly there was much less interest in so–called environmental issues than there is in the 1980s. Warren points to Edwin Z'berg's leadership in toughening the regulation of forest practices in California while he was chairman of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee in the early 1960s, as raising Warren's own consciousness about such matters. Warren recalls the beginning of his interest in energy conservation legislation and his own personal evolution as an environmentalist.

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Warren, Earl (OH W–10)

Conversations with Earl Warren on California Government. (1971, 1972). Governor, 1943–1953; Attorney General, 1939–1943.

Warren discusses the Alameda County District Attorney's office, the attorney general's office and some programs initiated by Warren as governor; the governor's office, national campaigns and Warren's appointment to the Supreme Court. In the area of law enforcement and the development of social programs, he provides statements of the underlying principles on which he operated in the 1930s and 1940s.

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Warren, Earl, Jr. (OH W–18)

"California Politics," Earl Warren: The Governor's Family. (1970).

Warren discusses his school and college years, entry into the political world, the 1948 and 1952 presidential races, and his father's view on civil liberties.

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Warren, James (OH W–18)

"Recollections of the Eldest Warren Son," Earl Warren: The Governor's Family. (1976).

Warren offers insight and vignettes about Earl Warren as a father and grandfather. He shares his recollections of the family's involvement in Earl Warren's political campaigns and reminisces on his father as chief justice.

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Warren, Nina Palmquist (OH W–18)

"Notes from the California First Lady," Earl Warren: The Governor's Family. (1978, 1979).

In lieu of an interview, Warren responds in a letter to questions posed by Amelia Fry.

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Warren, Robert (OH W–18)

"Playing, Hunting, Talking," Earl Warren: The Governor's Family. (1971).

Warren describes the Warren family in Oakland and in the Governor's Mansion in Sacramento with glimpses of school, family outings, sports, and a few political tides.

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Waters, Laughlin E. (OH 88–10)

Oral History Interview with Laughlin E. Waters. (1987). Assembly Member, 1947–1953. (pdf ~ 4.11 MB, 189 pages)

Waters discusses his family background, education, distinguished combat service during World War II in Europe, service in the assembly, especially his activities related to the state reapportionment of 1951, education, and highway construction, and comments extensively on Earl Warren as California governor and United States supreme court justice.

Transcript price: (189 pp.) $27.00



Watson, Diane E. (OH 2000–03)

Oral History Interview with Diane E. Watson. (1999). State Senator, 1975–1998.

Watson discusses her family background and her childhood in Los Angeles. She speaks of her initial unsuccessful bids for a seat on the Los Angeles Board of Education and the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors in 1992. She talks about her successful bid for a seat on the Board of Education in 1974 and for the state senate. She outlines the effort to desegregate Los Angeles schools, campaigning, carrying legislation, and chairing the Committee on Health and Human Services. She also discusses the Commission on the Status of Women, the Women's Caucus, the Black Caucus, leadership in the senate, and the state budget.

Transcript price: (441 pp.) 2 vols. $60.00



Watson, Madale L. (OH 90–1)

Oral History Interview with Madale L. Watson. (1998). Active in Democratic State Central Committee and Democratic Party Politics.

Watson discusses her family background and childhood, her early introduction to politics through her father's work, and her involvement with and election to positions in the Democratic State Central Committee. She talks about the role of women in the organization as well as factional politics among Democrats. She also discusses prominent California Democrats, particularly Jesse Unruh.

Transcript price: (354 pp.) $33.00



Watson, Philip E. (OH R–46)

Tax Reform and Professionalizing the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office. (1982, 1985).

Watson discusses his role in promoting and popularizing the issue of property tax limitation in California, namely, Propositions 1A and 9 (November 1968), the second Proposition 1A (June 1973), and Proposition 14 (November 1972). Watson also discusses the statewide assessors' scandal and the passage of A.B. 80 in 1966 which reformed the administration of the county assessors' offices, his involvement in the initial planning of Proposition 13 (June 1978), his administration and reform of the Los Angeles County Assessor's office, and the evolution of his political philosophy.

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Watts, Norman (Skip) (OH R–38)

"Observations of a Youthful Political Pro," Republican Campaigns and Party Issues, 1964–1976. (1983).

Watts comments on Reagan's presidential aspirations, and coordinating the activities of the 1970 committee to re–elect Reagan as governor.

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Way, Howard K. (OH R–21)

Issues in Corrections: The Adult Authority, Determinate Sentencing, and Prison Crowding, 1962–1982. (1984). Secretary, Youth and Adult Corrections Agency, 1980–1982; Chair, Adult Authority, 1976–1980; Senator, 1962–1975.

Way first addressed prison issues when, responding to constituent complaints, he investigated the sentencing practices of the California Adult Authority. He challenged the board's decision making in determining readiness for parole and release. Over the years, Way consistently worked for the determinate prison sentence, to eliminate the frustration of an uncertain release date and avoid what he considered abuses of discretion by the Adult Authority. His efforts (along with those of Senator John Nejedly) culminated in the Determinate Sentencing Act of 1976. This reform measure replaced the indeterminate sentence, which was itself introduced as a humane reform in the forties to tailor the punishment to fit the crime and to monitor the inmate's progress toward rehabilitation.

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Wedemeyer, John M. (OH KB–21)

"California State Department of Social Welfare, 1959–1966," Perspectives on Department Administration. (1978, 1979). Director, 1959–1966.

Wedemeyer served as director during a period of remarkable changes in public welfare. He touches on a variety of poverty programs, farm workers, the aged, and minorities, including efforts to respond to the issues reflected in the Watts riots in 1965, and several trial medical–care programs leading up to the early days of the Medi–Cal program which was to have sweeping influence on both the department and the state budget. Many of these programs resulted from federal legislation and Wedemeyer, with the governor and California legislators, played a role in negotiations in Washington that shaped the bills.

Contact the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library to purchase a copy of this transcript.



Weinberger, Caspar W. (OH KB–25)

"California Assembly, Republican State Central Committee, and Elections, 1953–1966," San Francisco Republicans. (1978, 1979). Director of Finance, 1968–1970; Assembly Member, 1953–1958.

When Weinberger went to the assembly, he became chairman of a subcommittee of the Government Organization Committee to look into scandals about liquor licensing and tax collections. He succeeded in winning passage of legislation overhauling the licensing process and setting up a separate department for alcoholic beverage control, something that had eluded the legislature for many years. Weinberger served as secretary, vice–chairman, and eventually chairman of the Republican State Central Committee from 1958 to 1964. He discusses his efforts to build a stronger organization, emphasizing communication with the general public and the California Plan to win more local races. He comments on William Knowland's efforts to heal factional wounds, urging Richard Nixon to run for governor, the impact of Goldwater supporters on Republican volunteer organizations, and the growing appeal of Ronald Reagan to party loyalists.

Contact the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library to purchase a copy of this transcript.



Weingand, Alvin C. (OH 90–2)

Oral History Interview with Alvin C. Weingand. (1989). Senator, 1962–1966. (pdf ~ 1.08 MB, 50 pages)

Weingand discusses his family background in North Platte, Nebraska, moving to Los Angeles and Montecito, civic activities in Montecito and Santa Barbara, and his service in the California State Senate from 1962–1966, and provides observation, especially in regard to ethics, about the state legislature. He also comments about oil drilling in the coastal waters near Santa Barbara, California.

Transcript price: (50 pp.) $21.00



Welch, Ronald B. (OH 89–30)

Oral History Interview with Ronald B. Welch. (1988). Board of Equalization, Assistant Executive Secretary, 1958–1974; Chief, Division of Research and Statistics, 1946–1958.

Welch discusses his work as chief of the California Board of Equalization's research section on standardization and restructuring of property tax assessment methods and work with county assessors, with reference to tax reform legislation and ballot measure initiatives in 1968 and 1971. References to state legislators and financial officials of the period.

Transcript price: (115 pp.) $24.00



Wenig, Herbert E. (OH W–31)

"The California Attorney General's Office, the Judge Advocate General Corps, and Japanese–American Relocation," Japanese–American Relocation Reviewed, Vol. I: Decision and Exodus. (1973). Assistant Attorney General, 1955–1975; Deputy Attorney General, 1947–1955.

Wenig describes Warren's early efforts to enforce the alien land laws. Wenig himself spent the war years in the Judge Advocate General Corps as a legal assistant to General DeWitt. He discusses the possible use of martial law in wartime, development of a constitutional argument for relocation, and the enforcement of the curfew laws. He describes the arguments presented to the Tolan Committee in favor of evacuation. Wenig participated in the writing of the government briefs in the three landmark Supreme Court decisions dealing with Japanese–American relocation, the Hirabayashi, Korematsu, and Endo cases.

Contact the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library to purchase a copy of this transcript.



Whitaker, Clement S., Jr. (OH 90–9)

Oral History Interview with Clement S. Whitaker, Jr. (1988, 1989). Political Campaign and Public Relations Specialist, 1944– . (pdf ~ 6.74 MB, 194 pages)

Whitaker discusses the organization and activities of Whitaker and Baxter, Inc. and allied political public relations work of Campaigns, Inc. and California Feature Service, 1940–1986. Topics include campaigns for Goodwin Knight, Richard Nixon, Robert Griffin; with emphasis on campaigns for California ballot measures on teachers' salaries, railroad crews, California and national health insurance, air pollution, and coastal protection; and public affairs activities concerning legislative reapportionment, medical malpractice, unitization of oil fields, and power plant siting.

Transcript price: (195 pp.) $27.00



Williams, Robert (OH 91–14)

Oral History Interview with Robert Williams. (1990). Deputy Legislative Secretary, 1963–1988.

Williams discusses the evolution of a formalized system for tracking and reviewing legislation in the governor's office. He compares the job during the four gubernatorial administrations and offers an insider's assessment of the work habits, personalities, staff, relations with legislators, and concerns of Governors Brown, Reagan, Brown, and Deukmejian.

Transcript price: (128 pp.) $24.00



Williams, Spencer M. (OH R–18)

The Human Relations Agency: Perspectives and Programs Concerning Health, Welfare, and Corrections, 1966–1970. (1982). Secretary, 1968–1970.

Williams reflects on the stormy formative years of the agency during his tenure with the Reagan administration, until he resigned to run for attorney general. He also comments on the closing of the state mental hospitals and dispersal of patients into the counties for local treatment, a move which took place during his tenure, as part of the governor's campaign promise to cut state spending. Williams also describes the use of task forces in the decision to consolidate the Departments of Mental Hygiene, Public Health, and Health Care Services into a single Department of Health. He recalls members of the governor's staff and describes relations between the governor's office and agency heads, in particular, how geographical proximity and agency mission seemed to affect access to the governor and his top staff.

Contact the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library to purchase a copy of this transcript.



Willoughby, Thomas H. (OH 90–4)

Oral History Interview with Thomas H. Willoughby. (1988). Legislative Staff Member, 1961–1983.

Willoughby discusses his role as consultant to two major assembly committees, contrasting the styles of committee chairmen Clark Bradley, John Knox, William Craven, Victor Calvo, and Thomas Hannigan and explaining the process of drafting and amending legislation. He describes the genesis of key environmental legislation of the 1960s and 1970s; contrasts assembly leadership styles of Speakers Leo McCarthy and Willie Brown; and reflects on the roles of Governors Edmund G. Brown, Sr., Ronald Reagan, and Edmund G. Brown, Jr. in the legislative process. He also discusses important cases heard as a member of the Commission on Judicial Performance, 1977–1981.

Transcript price: (156 pp.) $27.00



Winton, Gordon H., Jr. (OH 88–1)

Oral History Interview with Gordon H. Winton, Jr. (1987). Assembly Member, 1956–1966. (pdf ~ 7.69 MB, 304 pages)

Interview details Winton's background: family, education, World War II service, professional work as a lawyer, and service as a local school board member. The focus of the interview is his ten years of service in the assembly. He describes the style of Lincoln and Brown as speakers, as well as his relations with Jesse M. Unruh and the contest for the speakership in 1961. He discusses his role in passing legislation in the fields of education and criminal procedure particularly. He recounts the service to him of Rose Elizabeth Bird (later chief justice of the California State Supreme Court) as a Ford Foundation intern.

Transcript price: (304 pp.) $33.00



Wollenberg, Albert C., Sr. (OH W–49)

To Do the Job Well: A Life in Legislature, Judicial, and Community Service. (1970–1973, 1980). Assembly Member, 1939–1947.

Wollenberg was in a leadership role for most of the important legislation that Earl Warren attempted. This included the anti–loan shark measure, the prison reorganization act (1944), the bill to finance a postwar highway system (1944), and the controversial health insurance act of 1945 (A.B. 800). He also talks about his work as assistant U.S. attorney (1928–1934), superior court judge of San Francisco (1947–1958), and district court judge (1958– ? ).

Contact the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library to purchase a copy of this transcript.



Wollenberg, Albert C., Sr. and William T. Sweigert, Sr. (OH W–1)

Administration and Ethics in the Governor's Office and the Courts, California, 1939–1975. (1972, 1973, 1975). Executive Secretary, 1943–1946; Assistant Attorney General 1942–1943.

Sweigert discusses his overall philosophy of government in relation to his work with Earl Warren. He also briefly outlines some of his efforts to improve administration of the courts, echoing his earlier concerns in state government.

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Wrather, Jack (OH R–39)

"On Friendship, Politics, and Government," Republican Philosophy and Party Activism. (1982).

Wrather recalls Reagan's national efforts while viewing the Nixon, Ford, and Carter presidential nominations and administrations in retrospect. He concludes by drawing a straight line from the 1966 gubernatorial campaign to the presidential transition in 1980.

Contact the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library to purchase a copy of this transcript.



Wright, Cathie (OH 2003–01)

Oral History Interview with Cathie Wright. (2002). Assembly Member, 1981–1992; Senator, 1993–2000.

Wright discusses her family background, education, and job history. She speaks of moving to California and becoming involved in local politics in Simi Valley, her election to the Simi Valley city council, and her time as mayor. She outlines changing her party affiliation to Republican from Democrat and her decision to run for an assembly seat. She comments on campaigning, the role of the Republican Caucus, and the affect of political life on her family. Wright also discusses the Women's Caucus, her committee assignments, and involvement with the Commission on Child Support Development and Enforcement and the Commission on the Status of Women. She details the Systems of Care program, her decision to run for a senate seat, and her transition to other house. Wright also discusses the budget process, her run for lieutenant governor and feelings with Gray Davis, deregulation of electricity, and term limits.

Transcript price: (485 pp.) 2 vols. $60.00



Wright, Donald R. (OH R–47)

A View of Reagan and the California Courts. (1982). Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, 1970–1977.

Wright served as chief justice during the tenure of Governors Ronald Reagan and Jerry Brown. Among the major topics covered are the style or approach of Reagan regarding judicial appointments, the quality of those appointments, the relationship between the governor's office and the State Supreme Court and the Judicial Council of California, and the legislative leadership role of the governor as it may have affected the judiciary. The interview also yields some observations about the internal relationships on the high court, and finally, the he offers some comments on political trends which have found California courts and judges the objects of severe attack of a partisan as well as polemical nature.

Contact the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library to purchase a copy of this transcript.



Wrightson, James R. (OH 89–27)

Oral History Interview with James R. Wrightson. (1988). Journalist, 1948–1955.

Wrightson discusses his family and educational background in Maryland, service in the Civil Public Service camps as a conscientious objector during World War II, post–war work with the National Farm Labor Union, working on various California newspapers before moving to the Fresno Bee to cover the state legislature at Sacramento, and makes observations about the Sacramento press corps, effective legislators, influential lobbyists, and the impact or print and nonprint media on politicians, lobbyists, and state government.

Transcript price: (260 pp.) $30.00



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