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Louis H. Heilbron Papers

Identifier: CSU-055

Scope and Content

This collection documents Louis H. Heilbron’s professional activities relating to higher education beginning with the development of the California State University (CSU) system during the turbulent 1960’s as he tackled issues that arose when changing the prevailing culture. His labor negotiation skills proved instrumental in ending the teachers’ strike at San Francisco State College (1969) where he called on students and teachers to condemn violent demonstrations and actions on university campuses across the nation that occurred during that era. The collection includes drafts or completed versions of Heilbron’s books, publications and commencement speeches which reveal his sensitivities and position on admission standards, academic governance, education policy, collective bargaining, curriculum development, and the role of CSU trustees—issues that permeate a substantial portion of this collection. Also included are extensive materials with individuals, organizations and professional associations, primarily related to the interaction of the CSU trustees and the students and faculty. These elements are detailed in his publications, with drafts or copies in this collection, including Remarks of Louis H. Heilbron, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the California State Colleges, 1960-63 (published 1963), The Uses and Abuses of Trustees (1970), The College and University Trustee: A View from the Board Room (1973), Confidentiality and Accreditation (1976) and From the Beginning: Commencement Addresses and Selected Papers (1983).

The collection also contains materials, primarily from the 1970’s to the mid-1980’s, on his affiliations with the University of Texas, Golden State University, San Francisco State University, California State University Archives and the California Historical Society. In addition, there is correspondence, reports and other materials during his tenure with the Council of Post Secondary Accreditation. There is also a substantial body of reference materials, primarily reports and booklets, concerning the same academic issues Heilbron confronted during his involvement in higher education.

Whenever possible, original folder titles have been retained and the folders kept in their original order.


  • 1950-2006
  • Majority of material found within (Bulk 1960-1985)


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English


There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


Louis H. Heilbron (1907-2006) was a labor law attorney, educator, and civic leader who participated in many of the great events of his time. Born in Newark, New Jersey to musicians Simon and Flora Karp Heilbron, he grew up in San Francisco and attended Lowell High School with the future Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown. He received his B.A. in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley (1928), and graduated with a juris doctor degree from Berkeley’s Boalt Hall (1931). With the Depression raging, he worked for the California agencies of the Department of Social Welfare (secretary, 1932), the Emergency Relief Administration (assistant administrator, 1933; part-time consultant, 1934-1940 when the agency’s responsibilities were transferred to the Department of Social Welfare) and again with the Department of Social Welfare (part-time consultant, 1940-41). Concurrently, Heilbron joined the prominent San Francisco law firm of Heller, Ehrman, White and McAuliffe (attorney 1934-1948; principle labor attorney 1948-1978; retired partner 1978- ) where he remained affiliated, except for a brief period during World War II, for the rest of his life. During the war, he was the principal attorney (1942-43) for the Board of Economic Welfare. Serving as an army officer (Captain, 1943; Major, 1944-46), he helped the military coordinate labor relations in post-war Europe. After the war, he returned to his law practice. His interest in world affairs, intensified by the war, prompted him to join the World Affairs Council of Northern California (1951- ; president, 1965-67), a member of the Human Rights Commission of San Francisco (1969-75; chair, 1975), and chairman of the San Francisco Commission on Foreign Relations (1977-79). He was also a Jewish community leader and served on the boards of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (member, 1930’s- ; vice president, 1949?; president, 1949-52), Congregation Emanu-El (member, 1912- ; vice president, 1951- 1954?; president, 1954-1957), and the American Jewish Committee (president, 1958-60).

Heilbron had also been involved in higher education throughout his adult life. He was the assistant to the Dean of Men at Berkeley (1928-31), president of the San Francisco Public Education Society (1950-52), member of the International House at the University of California at Berkeley (vice-president, 1953-77), trustee of the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation (1956-76), member of the California State Board of Education (1959-60; president, 1960), member of the Board of Trustees at KQED (1959-1972; vice president, 1971-72), member of the Board of California State College Trustees (1960-69; chairman, 1960-63), member of the Board of Trustees at Golden Gate University (1969- ; chair, 1979-81), chairman of the advisory board at San Francisco State University (1970-75), member of the National Commission on Academic Tenure (1971-73), member of the Select Committee to Review the California Master Plan (1971-72), and a member of the National Council on Post Secondary Accreditation (1972-86). When Heilbron was appointed by Governor Brown as the chairman of the Board of California State College Trustees, he was instrumental in the implementation of the initial Master Plan for Higher Education (1960) and the emergence of the California State University system (1960).

In retirement from his law firm (1978), he was a member of the California Historical Society (1978- ; vice president, 1981-83; president, 1983-85) and a member of the California State University Archives Advisory Committee (1979- ; chair, 1979-1988).


20 boxes ([8.34 linear feet])


This collection contains the professional papers and materials of Louis H. Heilbron, a San Francisco-based labor law attorney who served on several boards overseeing higher education. He was instrumental in the development of the California State University system during the late 1950’s to 1960 when it was created. He was an astute scholar on the issues affecting higher education. The collection includes correspondence, publications, manuals, professional organization and conference materials, and reference materials.

Acquisition Information

The materials were donated to the California State University Archives at California State University, Dominguez Hills in Summer, 2007.

Related Material

California State University Board of Trustees Minutes and Agenda

An oral history is available through the California State University Oral History Project, held in the CSU Archives at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

See also the Louis Heilbron Papers, held in the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. An oral history is also located at the Bancroft Library.


The following works were used in the creation of this finding aid:
  • Grenier, Judson. Louis Heilbron, First CSU BOT Chair, Dies at 99. CSU-ERFA Reporter, March 2007.
  • Heilbron, Louis H. Most of a Century: Law and Public Service, 1930s to 1990s. Regents of the University of California, 1995. Accessed from on August 29, 2007.
  • Pine, Dan. Louis Heilbron, lawyer and community leader, dies at 99 (obituary), The Jewish News Weekly. January 8, 2007. Accessed from on August 29, 2007.
  • Tucker, Jill. Louis Heilbron - early CSU official, specialist in labor law (obituary), San Francisco Chronicle. December 29, 2006.
  • Louis Henry Heilbron, 12 May 2007 - 20 December 2006 Memorial service brochure: 13 February 2007; Temple Emanu-El, San Francisco.
  • Past President Louis Heilbron Dies at 99. The Temple Chronicle, Vol. CLIV, No. 6 (February 2007): Accessed from on August 29, 2007.
  • American Jewish Committee. Accessed from on August 29, 2007.
  • Who's Who in America, 1994.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Gregory Williams, 2007

Edited Full Draft
Finding aid prepared by Rob Gutner
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in English

Repository Details

Part of the California State University Archives Repository

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University Library South, 5039 (Fifth Floor)
1000 E. Victoria St.
Carson CA 90747
(310) 243-3895