“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 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: Reflections on What Makes America Great from a Veteran of World War (available on Amazon)
- Essay: What is Our Constitution For? (1951)
- Campaign booklet used by the CC Young for Governor campaign (1926)
- A campaign postcard used by Assemblyman Chester M. Kline (1932)
- Letter Announcing Assembly Candidacy (1936)
- Election Mailer (1936)
- Assembly Reelection Pamphlet (1938)
- Assembly Reelection Pamphlet (1940)
- Full-page Campaign Flyer (1940)
- A full-page campaign ad used by Dilworth during his first campaign for election to the State Senate (1944)
- Campaign materials for State Senate candidate Frank Dunbar, Dilworth’s opponent in the 1944 campaign.
Awards, Resolutions, and Letters
- A 1951 telegraph to San Francisco Mayor Elmer Robinson notifying the mayor of the State Senate’s “Committee to Greet General Douglas MacArthur”.
- Secretary of State certificates (1958 Certification as “Republican Dean of the Legislature” and 1956 Certificate of Election)
- Dilworth’s songbook from Camp American University and newspaper articles about Dilworth’s WWI service (1918)
- Letterhead and an envelope from the Coachella Valley News – a newspaper operated by Dilworth (1924)
- An envelope addressed to Dilworth from Assemblyman Chester M. Kline (1925)
- A 1939 postcard used by Assemblyman Nelson Dilworth (1939)
- A 1940 letter from Von T. Ellsworth of the California Farm Bureau Federation to Dilworth at the conclusion of the 1940 session.
- A 1940 letter from attorney Charles W. Fisher to Dilworth at the conclusion of the 1940 session.
- A 1940 letter from J. J. Stein of the Clay Products Institute of California to Dilworth at the conclusion of the 1940 session.
- A January 1942 telegram from the Rev. John Carruthers of Pasadena (who had previously been a chaplain on the USS Oklahoma).
- Senate and Assembly committee cards (used in the 1940s-1950s to inform legislators of upcoming committee meetings)
- The cover of the 1943 “Report of the Senate Fact-Finding Committee on Japanese Resettlement“
- A letter from Assemblyman Frank J. Waters requesting that his bill (AB 475) be scheduled for a Committee hearing (1943)
- A letter from Assemblyman Ernest C. Crowley requesting that his bill (AB 998) be scheduled for a Committee hearing. (1943)
- A letter from Assembly Speaker Sam L. Collins to the editor of the Riverside Press Enterprise about Dilworth acting as presiding officer in the Assembly (1944)
- A newspaper clipping from the Riverside Press Enterprise in 1944 about Assemblyman Nelson Dilworth.
- A letter from Assemblywoman Kathryn Niehouse congratulating Dilworth on his election to the State Senate (1944). Niehouse was the only woman in the legislature during WWII.
- A 1951 letter from U.S. Senator Richard Nixon thanking Dilworth for his work to resolve a constituent who had trouble getting a passport.
- A 1952 letter from Senator Charles Brown expressing his interest in serving as a member of the Rules Committee in 1953 and asking for Dilworth’s support.
- A 1953 letter from Senator George J. Hatfield expressing his interest in serving as Senate President pro Tem in 1954 and asking for Dilworth’s support.
- A 1954 letter from Assemblyman John L. E. Collier thanking Dilworth for a recent lunch. Collier would serve until 1978.
- A 1954 letter from Senator Luther Gibson inviting Dilworth to the Centennial Reception and Dinner for the Mare Island Navy Yard.
- Postcards addressed to Secretary of the Senate Joe Beek requesting copies of speeches by Dilworth (1954)
- A telegram from Governor Goodwin Knight about the importance of addressing smog in southern California (1955)
- Letter from Governor Goodwin Knight soliciting comments on pending legislation (1957)
- Nelson Dilworth with one of his cows in a pasture near Hemet (1936).
- Assemblyman Nelson Dilworth stands in Sacramento’s Capitol Park with the State Capitol behind him. (c. 1937-1944)
- Assemblyman Dilworth at the Capitol (c. 1937-1944)
- A photograph of two of Senator Dilworth’s sons beside the senator’s car. Note the S-37 license plate. (post-1944)
- Senator Dilworth official portrait (c. 1949) from the collection of the California State Library
- Senator Dilworth at his home office in Hemet (1956)