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Norma Paulus papers

Identifier: WUA031

Scope and Contents

The Norma Paulus papers contain documents generated and received by Paulus’ office during her three terms representing the city of Salem and Marion County in District 11 in the Oregon State House of Representatives. She won re-election in 1972 and 1974. Materials include copies of legislation she sponsored or co-sponsored, committee minutes, photographs, memorabilia, and letters from constituents. Her papers reflect her interest in environmental issues, capitol planning, and local government.


  • 1948-2006
  • Majority of material found within 1971-1976


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Library acts as “fair use” reproduction agent.

For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

Copyright Information: Before material from collections at Willamette University Archives and Special Collections may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permission. Persons wishing to quote from materials in any collections held by University Archives and Special Collections should consult the University Archivist. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Biographical / Historical

Norma Jean Peterson Paulus was born in Belgrade, Nebraska on March 13, 1933. During her early childhood, the Peterson family relocated to Burns, Oregon where Paulus attended Burns Union High School and was a member of the baton team for the high school band. Paulus graduated from Burns Union High School in 1950. Her first job, as a secretary to the Harney County district attorney, led to work as a legal secretary in Salem, Oregon. Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl C. LaTourette encouraged Paulus to apply to law school because of her experience and expertise. Based on her test scores, Paulus entered Willamette University Law School in 1956 without any prior college experience and graduated with honors in 1962. Paulus met her husband, William G. Paulus, while at Willamette University. They had been married for forty years when he died in 1999. Their two children are Elizabeth and William Frederick (“Fritz”) Paulus, both graduates of Whitman College.

Following three terms in the Oregon House of Representatives (1970-1976), Norma Paulus became Oregon’s first woman Secretary of State in 1976. She served in this office until 1985. As Secretary of State, Paulus dealt with several issues that gained national attention, including instituting emergency procedures in Wasco County to block followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh from an attempt to sway local elections.

Paulus ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1986, losing to Democrat Neil Goldschmidt. In 1990 Goldschmidt appointed her as Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction. Paulus won election to a four year term later that year and was reelected in 1994. As state superintendent, Paulus introduced statewide assessment testing in 1991 and supported school-to-work initiatives for reforming public education.

Since leaving public office, Paulus has worked as the executive director of the Oregon Historical Society; served on the Oregon State Capitol Foundation Board; served on the boards of various organizations including Willamette University; and helped raise funds for a statue honoring former governor Tom McCall. In 2004 she received the University of Oregon’s Distinguished Service Award.


44 Linear Feet (44 boxes)


The Norma Paulus papers contain papers generated and received by Paulus’ office during her three terms representing the Eleventh District in the Oregon House of Representatives, 1971-1976 and campaign materials from 1970 through 1986. Memorabilia from her time in public life is also represented.


The Norma Paulus papers are organized in four series: Series I - Legislative Materials, Series II - Scrapbooks, and Series III - Memorabilia, and Series IV - Photographs.

Specific arrangements for each series and subseries are described in the series descriptions below. Folders largely maintain original order, and there is a certain amount of subject overlap between series, as well as duplicate materials in various folders. Researchers are encouraged to examine the entire collection in order to cover all material addressing their interest.

Physical Location

Mark O. Hatfield Library

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Norma Paulus, 28 September 2010


Guide to the Norma Paulus papers, 1948-2006
Finding aid processed by Rose Marie Walter.
© 2012
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections Collection Descriptions

Mark O. Hatfield Library
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 United States