Finding aid for the Carmen Combs papers 0490

Natalie Camacho
USC Libraries Special Collections
2014 January
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, California 90089-0189

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
Title: Carmen Combs papers
creator: Combs, Carmen W.
Identifier/Call Number: 0490
Physical Description: 5.03 Linear Feet 9 boxes
Date (inclusive): 1923-1979
Abstract: The Carmen Combs papers contains reports, conference proceedings, committee minutes, studies, seminar and institute materials, pamphlets, analyses of problems and topics, legislation, speech transcripts, and memoranda to Court Referees, and personal notes. The documents generally focus on the welfare of children. There is much attention given to the juvenile court system.

Biographical note

Carmen Combs was a 1927 graduate of Yale Law School who began her career in Los Angeles by combining practice with a small firm and volunteer work as chief of the Domestic Relations Department of the city's Legal Aid Clinic. In 1937 she was appointed as Referee in Los Angeles Juvenile Court, where she served both regularly and on an "as needed" basis for the next 35 years. Meanwhile she worked on a variety of committees, commissions, and research projects devoted to the improvement of juvenile justice and the treatment of troubled or neglected children. Earl Warren first appointed Combs to his Governor's Advisory Committee on Children and Youth in 1947, a position which she retained through the governorships of Goodwin Knight and Pat Brown. As Chair of the Special Study Commission on Juvenile Crime, sponsored in 1957 by the Governor's Advisory Committee, she wrote a report on "California Children in Detention and Shelter Care" (3.7, 3.10, 7.2, 7.6, 8.2) and worked for its implementation on the "Subcommittee on Structure and Organization". On the Special Study Commission, Combs directed a survey of the administration of juvenile justice, which led to the repeal of California's existing juvenile court law, much of which had been in place since 1913, and the passage of a new law, effective on September 15, 1961, substantially embodying the recommendations of the Commission.
Combs' skills as a committee member and as an advocate in letters and presentations to state and county legislative bodies are apparent throughout the collection, as is her facility as a collaborator. Scattered through the files is her correspondence with contemporary leaders in the juvenile justice field in California, such as Karl Holton and Heman Stark, and with judges and officials across the country. In Los Angeles, Combs worked for improvement in public provision of protective services for abused and neglected children. Her concern for the conditions of juvenile detention evidently stemmed from a 1955 visit to the Los Angeles County Jail, following which she wrote a strong letter of protest to the County Board of Supervisors about the practice of routinely housing adolescent boys awaiting disposition of their cases with adult criminals. Combs served on the Los Angeles Grand Jury in 1956 and 1966, was chairman of the Los Angeles County Youth Committee, and of the Committee on Protective Services of the Los Angeles Bureau of Public Assistance, and her name appears on the rosters of many other short lived committees. As a career volunteer, among officials and politicians, her name on such listings is often followed by the designation - "Citizen At Large".

Scope and Content

The collection, reflecting Combs' interests in many aspects of juvenile law beyond those in which she had personal involvement, includes reports, conference proceedings, committee minutes, studies, seminar and institute materials, pamphlets, Combs' own lawyerly analyses of problems and topics, legislation, speech transcripts, and memoranda to Court Referees. Of historical interest are a series of studies on juvenile delinquency and probation (4.2) published by the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco in the 1920s (4.2), a 1936 report to the public entitled "Your Los Angeles County Juvenile Court" (3.2), and a 1938 judge's call for reformed legislation entitled "An Appeal on Behalf of the Childhood of California" (2.1).

Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

The use of archival materials for on-site research does not constitute permission from the California Social Welfare Archives to publish them. Copyright has not been assigned to the California Social Welfare Archives, and the researcher is instructed to obtain permission to quote from or publish manuscripts in the CSWA's collections from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

[Box/folder# or item name], Carmen Combs papers, Collection no. 0490, California Social Welfare Archives, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Juvenile delinquency -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
Juvenile detention -- California -- Archival resources
Mental health planning -- California -- Archival resources
Juvenile courts -- California -- Archival resources
Child welfare -- California -- Archival resources
Los Angeles County (Calif.). Probation Dept. -- Archives
University of Southern California. Youth Studies Center -- Archives
California. Committee on the Older Girl and the Law -- Archives
California Youth Authority -- Archives
Combs, Carmen W.
Combs, Carmen W. -- Archives

Box 3, Folder 5

Combs Notebook--Handwritten Entries


Detention and Shelter Care

Box 7, Folder 2

California Children in Detention and Shelter Care--Report on Implementation Conference 1954

Box 3, Folder 7

California Children in Detention and Shelter Care--Subcommittee for Implementation Reports 1955-1956

Box 8, Folder 2

California Children in Detention and Shelter Care--Survey and Follow-Up Study 1955

Box 7, Folder 6

California Children in Detention and Shelter Care and Summary Version 1954

Box 2, Folder 5

Grand Jury Reports & Recommendations on Juvenile Shelter and Detention Care 1945-1962

Box 7, Folder 3

Juvenile Detention in California--Report to the California Advisory Committee on Detention Home Problems 1946

Box 3, Folder 10

Publication of "California Children in Detention and Shelter Care" 1952-1954


Juvenile Court/Justice

Box 4, Folder 4

County Counsel Opinions re Juvenile Court Materials 1962

Box 5, Folder 2

Institute for Juvenile Court Judges and Referees - Newport Beach 1975

Box 7, Folder 10

Institutes for Juvenile Court Judges and Referees, Judicial Council of California 1964, 1971

Box 4, Folder 3

Juvenile Court Conference--County Juvenile Court & National Council of Juvenile Court Studies 1974

Box 2, Folder 1

Juvenile Court, Proposed Legislation 1937-1938

Box 4, Folder 9

Juvenile Justice Legislation 1976

Box 7, Folder 8

Juvenile Justice Studies--Suburban Los Angeles 1977-1979

Box 5, Folder 3

Legislation and Administration of Juvenile Justice--Paper, Bills 1923-1955

Box 3, Folder 9

Miscellaneous Pamphlets on Juvenile Justice 1953-1979

Box 7, Folder 9

Miscellaneous Papers and Studies on Juvenile Justice 1942-1975

Box 3, Folder 2

Papers on Juvenile Courts 1947-1977

Box 2, Folder 8

Policy & Procedure Memoranda for Juvenile Court Officers & Referees 1954-1969

Box 7, Folder 1

Special Crime Study Commission on Juvenile Justice 1948-1949

Box 5, Folder 4

Special Study Commission on Juvenile Justice--California 1958

Box 2, Folder 3

Superior Court Memoranda to Juvenile Court Referees 1969-1971

Box 4, Folder 8

Superior Court Review of Recent Criminal Cases 1974


Juvenile Delinquency

Box 1, Folder 4

Committee for Coordinating Delinquency Prevention Activities in Los Angeles County 1960 July 13-1961 February 15

Box 1, Folder 3

Committee for Coordinating Delinquency Prevention Activities in Los Angeles County 1961 February 28-November 3

Box 1, Folder 5

Committee for Coordinating Delinquency Prevention Activities in Los Angeles County 1961 December 4-1962 April 30

Box 4, Folder 2

Commonwealth Club Publications--Juvenile Delinquency 1924-1948

Box 3, Folder 3

Juvenile Crime and Delinquency--Papers 1948-1960

Box 4, Folder 6

Research Proposal--Movies, Television, and Juvenile Delinquency 1960

Box 4, Folder 7

Riots, Runaways, and Marijuana--Miscellaneous Papers 1965-1967

Box 6, Folder 1

The School and Juvenile Delinquency Papers, Reports 1943-1949

Box 2, Folder 7

1931 Study of Social Factors in Juvenile Delinquency. Miscellaneous Papers on Adult Corrections 1931-1948


Mental Health

Box 3, Folder 1

Governor's Conference on Mental Health 1949

Box 6, Folder 7

Mental Health in California--Studies, Reports (1) 1938-1958

Box 6, Folder 6

Mental Health in California--Studies, Reports (2) 1938-1958


Miscellaneous Studies and Reports

Box 7, Folder 4

Mid-Century Study of Children and Youth in California 1950

Box 7, Folder 5

Pasadena--Housing Study and Schools Analysis 1950-1951

Box 3, Folder 4

Rehabilitation/Training/Job Placement Demonstration Project #48 1962-1965



Box 1, Folder 6

Youth Committee, County of Los Angeles 1954-1955

Box 3, Folder 6

Studies, Correspondence re Municipal Youth Commissions 1959-1961

Box 2, Folder 6

Los Angeles County Public Welfare Commission--Foster Care 1955(?)

Box 6, Folder 3

California Committee on the Older Girl and the Law--Correspondence, Minutes 1957-1958

Box 5, Folder 5

California Committee on the Older Girl and the Law--Related Papers 1959-1961

Box 6, Folder 4

California Committee on the Older Girl and the Law--Drafts, Reports, Studies 1956-1968

Box 6, Folder 5

Governor's Advisory Committee on Children and Youth--Minutes, Memoranda 1948-1968

Box 7, Folder 7

California Youth Authority--Correspondence, Reports 1955-1956

Box 8, Folder 1

Youth Program Planning--L.A. Regional Criminal Justice Planning Board 1975


Probation Services

Box 4, Folder 1

County Probation Department Gang Activity Analyses 1959-1960

Box 1, Folder 2

Los Angeles County Probation Department Placement Study (1) 1960 January

Box 1, Folder 1

Los Angeles County Probation Department Study (2) 1960

Box 2, Folder 9

Report Committee on Special Problems to California Probation and Parole Association 1950


Protective Services

Box 2, Folder 4

Correspondence re Need for Protective Services 1956-1971

Box 4, Folder 5

Criteria for Protective Services for Children 1948-1970

Box 2, Folder 2

Los Angeles County--Advisory Committee on Protective Services 1957-1968

Box 9, Folder 1

Personal Correspondence and Notes for Study of Preventative Services 1947-1969

Box 3, Folder 8

Protective Services Demonstration Project, McLaren Hall Advisory Committee Meetings 1965-1966


Youth Studies Center (USC)

Box 4, Folder 10

Youth Studies Center--USC Advisory Council Minutes 1962-1968

Box 5, Folder 1

Youth Studies Center--USC Advisory Council, Organization Annual Reports 1958-1961

Box 6, Folder 2

Youth Studies Center (USC)--Miscellaneous Papers 1959-1964