Paulus, Norma

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Norma Paulus grew up in Burns, Oregon, and worked as a lawyer in Salem, Oregon. She served as Oregon's superintendent of public instruction and Secretary of State, and she ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1986. She later served as the executive director of the Oregon Historical Society.

From the description of Norma Paulus papers, circa 1940-2003. (Oregon Historical Society Research Library). WorldCat record id: 726763404

From the guide to the Norma Paulus papers, circa 1940-2003, (Oregon Historical Society Research Library)

Norma Jean Petersen 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 University of Oregon’s Distinguished Service Award.

From the guide to the The Norma Paulus papers, 1953-2006, 1971-1976, (Willamette University University Archives and Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Norma Paulus papers, circa 1940-2003 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Paulus, Norma. Norma Paulus papers, circa 1940-2003. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Paulus, Norma. Norma Paulus : commercials , 1985-1986. University of Oklahoma, Political Community Archives
referencedIn Photograph of judges of the American Indian Beauty Contest, Oregon [graphic], 1976. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Carlsen, Clifford N. Clifford N. Carlsen collection, circa 1965-2003. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf The Norma Paulus papers, 1953-2006, 1971-1976 Willamette University Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Burns, James M., 1924-. James M. Burns office papers, circa 1940-1960. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Atiyeh, Victor George, 1923- person
associatedWith Burns, James M., 1924- person
associatedWith Bush, George, 1924- person
associatedWith Carlsen, Clifford N. person
associatedWith Clinton, Bill, 1946 - person
associatedWith Dole, Elizabeth, 1936 - person
associatedWith Duniway, Abigail Scott, 1834-1915 person
associatedWith Ford, Gerald R., 1913-2006 person
associatedWith Frank, Gerry person
associatedWith Hatfield, Mark O., 1922-2011 person
associatedWith Hoff, Syd, 1912-2004 person
associatedWith Kafoury, Gretchen, 1942 - person
associatedWith Kassebaum, Nancy Landon, 1932- person
associatedWith Legislators – Oregon corporateBody
associatedWith McCall, Tom, 1913-1983 person
associatedWith O’Scannlain, Diarmuid F., 1937 - person
associatedWith Packwood, Bob, 1932 - person
associatedWith Paulus Brothers (Salem, Or.) corporateBody
associatedWith Paulus family family
associatedWith Paulus family family
associatedWith Reagan, Maureen Elizabeth, 1941 – 2001 person
associatedWith Reagan, Ronald Wilson, 1911 – 2004 person
associatedWith Rice, Condoleezza, 1954- person
associatedWith Smith, Dennis Denny Alan, 1938- person
associatedWith Smith, Robert Bob Freeman, 1931- person
associatedWith Straub, Robert Bob William, 1920 – 2002 person
associatedWith Ullman, Albert Al Conrad, 1914-1986 person
associatedWith University of Oklahoma. Political Commercial Archive. corporateBody
associatedWith Watzek, Aubrey R., 1888-1973 person
associatedWith Willamette University corporateBody
associatedWith Willamette University School of Law corporateBody
associatedWith Yeager, Chuck, 1923 - person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Oregon (State)
Advertising, political
Television advertising
Radio advertising
Oregon (State)--Secretary of State


Active 1985

Active 1986



Ark ID: w6k43rhf

SNAC ID: 61194723