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Culbert L. Olson

Gov. Culbert L. Olson

  • January 2, 1939 - January 4, 1943
  • Democrat
  • November 7, 1876
  • April 13, 1962
  • Utah
  • Brigham Young University; University of Michigan; Columbian University Law School (D.C.)
  • Married Kate Jeremy; three children


CULBERT L. OLSON was born in Fillmore, Utah, on November 7, 1876. He attended both Brigham Young University and the University of Michigan, and earned a law degree from Columbian University Law School in Washington D.C. Olson entered politics as a member of the Utah Senate, where he served from 1916 to 1920. Moving to California in 1921, Olson continued to stay active in public service. He served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1920 and 1940, was a member of the California Senate from 1934 to 1938, and was assistant U.S. attorney general from 1936 to 1937. On November 8, 1938, Olson was elected Governor of California, and on January 2, 1939, he was sworn into office. During his term, the Golden Gate International Exposition was held in San Francisco, California’s constitution was revised allowing for the use of provisional committees by the state legislature, and Governor Olson pardoned Tom Mooney, a notorious labor martyr, who was convicted 20 years earlier. With the start of World War II, California underwent a tremendous industrial growth with the federal government pouring billion of dollars into the state. Also during his tenure, a Japanese submarine shelled an oil field near Santa Barbara in February 1942. Olson ran unsuccessfully for reelection and left office on January 4, 1943. He stayed active in politics, serving as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1944 and 1948. Governor Culbert Olson died on April 13, 1962, and is buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.


Official Records:California State Archives

Personal Papers: Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Image source: California State Library: Governors' Gallery

Governors of California 1849-2002

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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