The Nelson S. Dilworth Collection

“The Honorable Nelson S. Dilworth was the soul of honor, the essence of patriotism, and the emblem of sincerity and righteousness in office…

– Senate Concurrent Resolution 3 (1965 1st Extra Session)

State Senator Nelson Dilworth (c. 1949) from the collection of the California State Library
State Senator Nelson Dilworth

State Senator Nelson S. Dilworth was born June 27, 1890 in East Palestine, Ohio. He moved to California as a child, and served as the Assistant Journal Clerk of the State Assembly for the 1915 session. Soon after, Dilworth enlisted in the Army and served in France during World War I.

After more than a decade as Postmaster in Hemet, Dilworth was encouraged to run for office by a local legislator who was leaving the Assembly to seek a seat in the State Senate. Dilworth ran for and was elected to the State Assembly in 1936, where he served until his election to the State Senate at the close of World War II.

Dilworth served a total of 24 years in the state legislature and with a strong legislative focus on education and American citizenship, including service on the Education Committees in both the State Assembly (1941-1944) and State Senate (1945-1960) and authored a number of important education bills including the creation of the Institute for Cancer Research at the University of California and the construction of the University of California at Riverside campus. According to Senator Stanford Shaw in his oral history interview (p. 169), by the late 1950s, Dilworth had earned the nickname “Mr. Education.”

In addition to his work in education, Dilworth was a longtime member of legislative committees related to elections (1937-1939, 1945, 1951-1960), state finance (1941-1944 and 1951-1960), and Military and Veterans Affairs committees (1939-1956).

At the time of his retirement in 1960, he was the 9th-longest serving legislator in California history.


Freedom by Nelson S. Dilworth
Freedom by Nelson S. Dilworth

Campaign Materials

Awards, Resolutions, and Letters

Other Documents