Norma Brandel Gibbs interviewed by Abby Waldrop, October 14, 2015, Huntington Beach, California, Oral History #5789, transcript, Women, Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University, Fullerton.
An oral history with Norma Brandel Gibbs, former (and first female) city councilwoman and mayor for both Seal Beach and Huntington Beach. The interview was conducted for the Women, Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage Oral History Project for California State University, Fullerton’s Center for Oral and Public History. The purpose of this interview was to gather information about Gibbs’ career on the city council. Specifically this interview covers Gibbs’ youth in Chicago, Illinois, as the daughter of Swedish immigrants; having tuberculosis as a child and being bedridden for long periods of time (which continued throughout her life); spending a year in Berlin post-World War II; moving to California in 1957 to teach at Cal State Long Beach (as the only woman in the Psychology Department); meeting her husband; balancing motherhood and career; recalls running and winning a seat on Seal Beach City Council in 1960; first days and accomplishments on the council; having to resign from the council due to a bout with tuberculosis; relocating to Huntington Harbor; her family’s reaction and support to her political career; running for and winning a seat on the Huntington Beach City Council in 1970; fostering seventeen-year-old, male, twin, Iranian refugees in her home; relationships with male colleagues on the council; accomplishments of Huntington Beach City Council, including the library, city hall, central park, and senior center; the issue of open space in Huntington Beach; her role as mayor of Huntington Beach in 1975; starting Interval House, a shelter for battered women; receiving a Lifetime Achievement Medal from President Barack Obama; reasons why she did not seek a higher office after serving on Huntington Beach City Council; what it takes to be a successful elected official; and finally, differences in how men and women lead. See also OH 2599 in Huntington Beach Collection
Norma Gibbs, as Mayor and member of the Seal Beach City Council.
Photograph of article “People on the Way Up,” featuring Norma Gibbs.
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