Taylor, Paul S. (Paul Schuster), 1895-1984

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Paul Schuster Taylor (1895-1984), an Iowa-born economist, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1917. He served as a Marine captain with the Second Division, American Expeditionary Forces in France from 1917 to 1919. At the end of his military service, he resumed his studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received a Masters degree in 1920, and a Ph.D. in 1922. Joining the Department of Economics immediately after graduation, Taylor remained at the University of California, Berkeley throughout his career.

As one of the first scholars to study the problems of migrant farm workers, Taylor was asked by the California Emergency Relief Administration to report on the plight of the Dust Bowl migrants who flocked into California during the Great Depression. He took a leave from the University to complete the study and persuaded Dorothea Lange, a San Francisco photographer, to join his study team. His report, illustrated by Lange's moving photographs, persuaded California relief officials to build housing for migrants and inspired the Franklin Roosevelt administration to provide food, housing, and medical care for Dust Bowl refugees. Lange and Taylor married in 1935. In 1939, they again collaborated for the book, An American Exodus, which is generally considered the most moving depiction of the effects of the Depression on rural America.

In 1943, Taylor began a persistent crusade to protect small farmers' rights to federally subsidized water. He argued that land ownership patterns directly affect the quality of rural life. Small farms create schools, churches, community organizations and other adjuncts of a healthy society, while large farms create poverty-stricken farm workers. His arguments led to numerous court decisions which threatened many of the giant farms in California's Central Valley. The rulings generated a successful lobbying effort that led to the Federal Reclamation Reform Act of 1982.

Paul Taylor's testimony, frequently given before congressional committees, and his many contacts with people in related fields of endeavor made him a well-known and highly respected scholar. Through varied interests, Taylor became disturbed by the efforts of large land and water owners in California, as well as in other western states, to prevent the enforcement of the 160-acre excess land limitation in the Federal reclamation laws. In 1949, his "Central Valley Project: Water and Land" was published in The Western Political Quarterly; in it Taylor reviewed the history of irrigation in California and the West, and described efforts made in Congress to break down reclamation legislation. He followed this article with a second piece in the same journal in 1959, in which he showed the various ways administrators with the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation were permitting the breakdown of enforcement of the excess lands provision. As an example of how well Paul Taylor succeeded in setting forth his analysis, the United States Supreme Court cited his "Excess Land Law: Execution of a Public Policy" in its landmark 8-0 decision upholding the validity of the 160-acre limitation law (Ivanhoe vs. McCracken, 1958).

During most of the 1960s, Taylor conducted studies of rural community development for the United Nations, Stanford Research Institute, and the International Cooperation Administration. He acted as a consultant in numerous foreign countries, including India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, each time recommending solutions to effect change in meeting the land problems of each country.

During the last twenty years of his life, Dr. Taylor wrote many articles on reclamation law for law school journals. Seventeen were reprinted in 1979 by The New York Times Arno Press. In his introduction to the volume, Paul W. Gates, a leading historian of land policy, wrote: "Paul Taylor set an example for scholars to have the courage of their convictions, to delve deeply into major social and economic questions, to present their facts no matter how unpopular this may make them with selfserving politicians who play the game of greedy economic interests attempting to monopolize natural resources made valuable at public expense."

The Conservation Service Award, highest honor of the U.S. Department of the Interior, was presented to Paul Schuster Taylor on May 30, 1980. Secretary of the Interior, Cecil D. Andrus presented the award and the featured speakers included Cesar Chavez, president of the United Farm Workers of America. During the presentation, Secretary Andrus stated, "Eight presidents and many Secretaries of the Interior have heard from Professor Taylor. Some have not gotten the message, despite the fact that it has always been loud and clear."

Paul Taylor's life work has affected the largest institutions and the common working people. The lives of family farmers and farm laborers in this and other nations are still being influenced by his understanding of the delicate relationships between the land and the lives of the people who work it.

Professional Chronology

  • 1895: Born June 9th in Sioux City, Iowa
  • 1917: B.A., University of Wisconsin
  • 1917 - 1919 : U.S. Marine Corps, American Expeditionary Forces, France
  • 1920: M.A., University of California, Berkeley
  • 1922: Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  • 1922 - 1962 : Instructor, and later professor, Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1927 - 1929 : Chief Investigator, research project, Social Science Research Council, Mexican Labor in the United States
  • 1930 - 1931 : Consultant to National Commission on law observance and enforcement, (Wickersham Committee) studying crime and the foreign-born
  • 1931 - 1932 : Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship for study in Jalisco, Mexico
  • 1933: Researcher on self-help cooperatives among unemployed, Social Science Research Council and a Rockefeller Foundation grant to the University of California, Berkeley Consultant, Governor's Fact Finding Committee on the Cotton Strike
  • 1935: Field Director, Division of Rural Rehabilitation California State Emergency Relief Administration (CERA)
  • 1935 - 1943 : President, California Rural Rehabilitation Corporation
  • 1935 - 1936 : Regional Labor Adviser, U.S. Resettlement Administration
  • 1935 - 1942 : Member, State Advisory Council, California Department of Employment
  • 1936 - 1940 : Contributing Editor, Rural Sociology
  • 1936 - 1941 : Senior Economist, Social Security Board
  • 1939: Member, Governor's Commission on Reemployment (California) Consultant, United States Senate, Civil Liberties Committee
  • 1940 - 1944 : Member, California State Board of Agriculture
  • 1943 - 1945 : Vice-Chairman, Committee on American Principles and Fair Play
  • 1943 - 1952 : Consulting economist, Office of Secretary of the Interior on Central Valley project studies
  • 1946 - 1952 : Consultant, Bureau of Reclamation on Central Valley problems of water distribution and land settlement
  • 1949: Editorial Board Member, American Quarterly
  • 1950 - 1951 : Consultant, President's Migratory Labor Committee
  • 1952: Consultant, Export-Import Bank on Artibonite Valley project, Haiti
  • 1952 - 1956 : Chairman, Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1955 - 1968 : Consultant, International Cooperation Administration (ICA), later called the Agency for International Development (AID), in Asia, and joint projects with AID and the United Nations, the Ford Foundation, the University of California, and Stanford; also, field studies on Community Development in India, Pakistan and the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, Jamaica, Colombia, Mexico, Egypt, Iran and Panama.
  • 1956 - 1962 : Chairman, Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1962: Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1962 - 63 : Visiting Professor, Institute of Land Reclamation, University of Alexandria, Egypt
  • 1965: Doctor of Laws, Boalt Law School, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1970: Research Director, California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
  • 1971: Consultant, California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
  • 1972: Board of Directors, National Coalition for Land Reform
  • 1973: Legislative Spokesperson, Friends of the Earth
  • 1976: Land-Water Symposium to Honor Paul Schuster Taylor
  • 1980: Conservation Service Award
  • 1984: Died March 13th at his home in Berkeley, Calif.

From the guide to the Paul Schuster Taylor Papers, 1660-1997, (bulk 1895-1984), (The Bancroft Library.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Taylor, Paul Schuster, 1895-1984. [Agricultural photo] [graphic] UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Taylor, Paul Schuster, 1895-1984. Pressures to destroy the nation's anti-monopoly policy for public water development : typescript : a documentary study with special references to the excess land law, 1944-1949 / documentation prepared by Paul S. Taylor ; arrangement assisted by Orrin Cassmore, [1949?]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Yellen, Ben, 1907-1994. Ben Yellen papers, 1945-1994. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
referencedIn Paul Wallace Gates papers, 1873-1996, 1934-1982 (bulk) Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
creatorOf United States. Bureau of Reclamation. Sacramento Office. Clippings concerning the Central Valley project, 1936-1943. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Samora, Julian, 1920-1996. Julian Samora papers, 1934- University of Texas Libraries
creatorOf Ickes, Harold L. (Harold LeClair), 1874-1952. Harold L. Ickes letter to Paul Shuster Taylor : Washington, D.C. : LS, 1948 April 23. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Taylor, Paul Schuster, 1895-1984. Paul Schuster Taylor collected writings. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Lange, Dorothea. Dorothea Lange : the making of a documentary photographer. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Wood, Irving William. Irving W. Wood Papers, 1934-1937. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Taylor, Paul Schuster, 1895-1984. Statement by Paul S. Taylor, of Berkeley, California, before the Department of Water Resources hearing on proposed construction of a Peripheral Canal as part of the State Water Project, Sacramento, California. 1974 Oct. 10. Water Resources Collections and Archives
creatorOf Taylor, Paul Schuster, 1895-1984. Paul Schuster Taylor papers, 1660-1997 (bulk 1895-1984) UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Julian Samora Papers, Part 1 1985-12. 24426265., 1934-1989 Benson Latin American Collection, General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin
creatorOf Survey Associates selected correspondence Archives of American Art
creatorOf Steffens, Lincoln, 1866-1936. Lincoln Steffens letter to Louis Oneal : concerning the arrest of Caroline Decker as an organizer of migratory labor : typescript, : ALS, 1934 July 27. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Catalogue I of the Regional Oral History Office, 1954-1979 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Paul Schuster Taylor Papers, 1660-1997, (bulk 1895-1984) Bancroft Library
creatorOf Wood, James Earl, 1906-. James Earl Wood collection on Filipinos in California, circa 1929-1934. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn John Reed papers, 1903-1967. Houghton Library
referencedIn Abbot, W. W. (William Wright), 1922-. William W. Abbot papers [manuscript], ca.1943-1992. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Fetter, Frank A. (Frank Albert), 1863-1949. Fetter mss., 1875-1988. Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Ben Yellen Papers, 1945 - 1994 Mandeville Special Collections Library
referencedIn Harris, Abram Lincoln, 1899-1963. Letter, 1931 July 30. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
referencedIn National Land for People collection, Bulk, 1972-1983, 1850-1991 Special Collections Research Center, California State University, Fresno
referencedIn Dorothea Lange Collection, 1919-1965 Oakland Museum of California
referencedIn Galarza, Ernesto, 1905-1984. Ernesto Galarza papers, 1936-1993. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Taylor, Paul Schuster, 1895-1984. [Agricultural photo] [graphic] UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Papers, 1911-1979. New York State Historical Documents Inventory
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Taylor, Paul Schuster, 1895-1984. Land tenure and community development, 1962-1963. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Dorothea Lange papers relating to the Japanese-American relocation, 1942-1974 (bulk 1942-1945). UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Malca Chall Research Collection, 1902-2000 Water Resources Collections and Archives
creatorOf Japanese-American Internment Camp Materials, 1942-ca. 1999. California State University, Northridge
referencedIn Gates, Paul W. (Paul Wallace), 1901-1999. Paul Wallace Gates papers, 1873-1996, 1934-1982 (bulk). Cornell University Library
referencedIn Vizzard, James L. James L. Vizzard papers, 1942-1983. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abbot, W. W. (William Wright), 1922- person
associatedWith Ballis, George Elfie, 1925-2010 person
associatedWith Ballis, Maia person
associatedWith Bancroft Library. Regional Oral History Office corporateBody
associatedWith California. Dept. of Water Resources. corporateBody
associatedWith California State Water Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Central Valley Project (Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Chall, Malca person
associatedWith Democratic Party (Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Dorothea Lange person
associatedWith Fetter, Frank A. (Frank Albert), 1863-1949 person
associatedWith Galarza, Ernesto, 1905-1984. person
associatedWith Gates, Paul W. (Paul Wallace), 1901-1999. person
correspondedWith Harris, Abram Lincoln, 1899-1963. person
associatedWith Ickes, Harold L. (Harold LeClair), 1874-1952. person
associatedWith Jāmiʻat al-Iskandarīyah. College of Agriculture. corporateBody
associatedWith Lange, Dorothea. person
associatedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Paul Wallace, Gates 1901- person
correspondedWith Reed, John, 1887-1920 person
associatedWith Samora, Julian, 1920- person
associatedWith Steffens, Lincoln, 1866-1936. person
associatedWith Survey Associates. corporateBody
associatedWith Taylor, Paul Schuster, 1895- person
associatedWith Tugwell, Rexford G. (Rexford Guy), 1891- person
associatedWith United States. Bureau of Reclamation. Sacramento Office. corporateBody
associatedWith University of California corporateBody
associatedWith Vizzard, James L. person
associatedWith Wood, Irving William. person
associatedWith Wood, James Earl, 1906- person
associatedWith Yellen, Ben, 1907- person
associatedWith Yellen, Ben, 1907-1994. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
California--San Joaquin Valley
Peripheral Canal (Calif.)
United States
Agricultural laborers
Agricultural laborers, Foreign
Agricultural laws and legislation
Community development
Land grants
Land reform
Land tenure
Land tenure
Migrant agricultural laborers
Strikes and lockouts
Water rights


Birth 1895-06-09

Death 1984-03-13




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