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Finding Aid for the Ellen Stern Harris papers
LSC 1287  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Related Material

  • Title: Ellen Stern Harris papers
    Collection number: LSC 1287
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 18.4 linear ft. (45 document boxes, 1 flat box)
    Date (inclusive): 1942-2005
    Abstract: The Ellen Stern Harris papers document the efforts and accomplishments of a California environmental activist whose concerns ranged from protecting the California coastline to cleaning up campaign finances. Harris established herself as a leading activist through exhaustive correspondence, editorials, committee testimonies, lectures, cable television shows, and a Los Angeles Times consumer advocate column. Highlights of the collection include papers concerning her fight against the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (1971), the writing and passing of Proposition 20 (1972), her term as Vice Chairwoman of the California Coastal Zone Conservation Commission (1972-1976), and her internal investigation of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (1978). Also included is her research on such topics as media power, financial reform, electromagnetic field health concerns, and Beverly Hills community issues. This collection documents Harris’ lifelong dedication to promoting citizen rights in both her professional appointments and personal interests.
    Language of Materials: Materials are in English.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Creator: Harris, Ellen Stern.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Ellen Stern Harris papers (Collection LSC 1287). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Ellen Stern Harris, April 27, 2011.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Lindsay Chaney in 2013 in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Jillian Cuellar. Preliminary processing by Loretta Ayeroff.

    Biography/History

    Ellen Stern Harris (1929-2006) was an environmental activist primarily concerned with water management and coastal protection. She grew up in Beverley Hills, California and was largely self-taught—she did not attend college. She was the mother of two children and was divorced in the mid-1960s. Harris served on a number of environmental committee boards and has a diverse set of accomplishments to her name, including founding the non-profit organization the Fund for the Environment in 1970 and serving as Executive Director until her death.
    Harris got her start as an activist as a lobbyist for the Friends of the Santa Monica Mountains. In 1966, Governor Pat Brown appointed Harris to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. During her time here, she helped found the Council for Planning and Conservation. This experience made her more determined to fight for the preservation of the California coast. She held gatherings in her home to discuss environmental issues and continued to hold these gatherings throughout her life. Between 1971 and 1978, she also wrote a Consumer Advocate column for the Los Angeles Times. The culmination of her hard work and service came in 1972 with the passing of Proposition 20, which she co-authored. This act mandated the creation of the California Coastal Commission, which dealt largely with coastal development permits. Harris was Vice Chairwoman of the Commission for four years, and during this time, she became an advocate for campaign finance reform. Harris served on the Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors from 1978 to 1981. In 1978, she called for a Grand Jury investigation of unjustified expenses within the management staff. Harris was concerned not only with environmental issues but also with the power of the media and citizen access to information. She taught classes on these topics including a class called “Information and Power” at UCLA Extension. In 1988, she ran unsuccessfully for Beverly Hills City Council. Harris’ interests also included electromagnetic field health concerns, and she served on the Public Utilities Commission EMF Consensus group from 1991 to 1992.
    Harris’s activism and accomplishments as an advocate for citizen rights were widely recognized. She was named the Los Angeles Times “Woman of the Year” in 1969 and received the United Nations Association World Communications Award in 1983. In 2006, Harris passed away of cancer at the age of 76.

    Scope and Content

    The collection is primarily composed of letters, clippings, and research related to Harris's personal and professional endeavors. Highlights of the collection include documentation of her fight against the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (1971), the writing and passing of Proposition 20 (1972), her term as Vice Chairwoman of the California Coastal Zone Conservation Commission (1972-1976), and her internal investigation of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (1978). Also included is her research on such topics as media power, financial reform, electromagnetic field health concerns, and Beverly Hills community issues.

    Organization and Arrangement

    This collection has been arranged in the following series:
    • Series 1: Water Management, 1966-2005
    • Series 2: Coastal Conservation, 1968-2008
    • Series 3: Public Television and Radio, 1969-2005
    • Series 4: Electromagnetic Field Health Concerns, 1974-2003
    • Series 5: Los Angeles History Preservation, 1963-1997
    • Series 6: Finance Reform, 1965-2004
    • Series 7: Subject Files, 1964-2003
    • Series 8: Conference Participation and Teaching, 1965-2000
    • Series 9: Correspondence, 1960-2004
    • Series 10: Biographical and Personal Material, 1942-2005
    • Series 11: Beverly Hills Community Participation, 1920-2004
    • Series 12: Council for Planning and Conservation, 1967-1986
    • Series 13: The Fund for the Environment, 1970-1998

    Related Material

    Irene Wolt papers (Collection 1871).  Available at Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Harris, Ellen Stern, 1929-2006 --Archives.
    Women environmentalists --California --Archival resources.