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Roy Kiesling papers

  • Collection
  • 1970-1995

The Roy A. Kiesling papers (1970-1990) consists primarily of correspondence, reports, conference material, and publications related to Kiesling's 1970s and 1980s participation as a lawyer and engineer in the California and national Consumer movements. The papers have been arranged to reflect his administrative involvement in several non-profit organizations, state-level government committees, for-profit businesses, and his personal interest in various ongoing consumer-related issues.
The collection is organized into five series: 1) Consumer Organizations; 2) Conferences; 3) Government Consultancies; 4) Research; 5) Publications. The Consumer Organizations Series (1970-1990) consists of five boxes of memoranda, reports, speeches, correspondence, press releases, clippings, by-laws, receipts and chronological files, which span Roy Kiesling's administrative involvement in several consumer movement organizations. Arranged in chronological order by organization, this series stands as one of the two greatest strengths of the Kiesling papers. Two of the boxes offer researchers a detailed view of the formative years of the Consumer Alliance, which was co-founded by Kiesling with Donald Kennedy and Paul Ehrlich in the aftermath of the ten day 1970 "Summer Alumni College on the Environment" symposium at Stanford University. Similarly, many files cover Kiesling's activities as a board member and president of the Consumer Federation of California and the Consumer Cooperative Society of Palo Alto, including board minutes, resolutions, and reports of the organization's actions.
Researchers will also find the documentation relating to the Consumer Cooperative's files of particular interest in complementing the activities of other regional organizations. For example, where the Consumer Alliance was interested in broad issues, the Consumer Cooperative placed a greater focus on local issues, such as their affiliation with five California based supermarkets in collaboration with the Berkeley Cooperative. This partnership outlined in the files, accrued an annual collective gross of nineteen million dollars a year. Other files in this series include correspondence and reports relating to Paul Ehrlich's theories on population growth, the history of the California consumer movement, and the problems caused by the 1973 government protection of agricultural business and the teamsters over the United Farm Workers and the California shopper. Finally, still other materials center on the creation and maintenance of local cooperatives throughout California's urban landscape to the benefit of individual neighborhoods neglected by national store chains.
The Conferences Series (1970-1995) consists of three boxes of meeting minutes, programs, rosters, clippings, notes, testimonies and audio tapes arranged in chronological order. Collected by Kiesling during the 1970s as a conference attendee, many of the early files in this series cover important events in the history of the Consumer Movement. These include the 1970 Summer Alumni College on the Environment, the 1971 Food Labeling Conference, the 1971 Consumer Union/American Council on Consumer Interests (whose records are retained by K-State Special Collections), the "Milwaukee Massacre"of 1973, and several Tucson symposia. Other files include "Tape-to-Tape" recordings of conference speeches and lectures given by Consumer Movement leader Colston Warne. Researchers will also find the documents relating to the creation of the national conference creating the Conference of Consumer Organizations (COCO), which was founded by Currin Shields , Louis Meyer, and Fr. Robert McEwen and aided by Roy Kiesling, to be of particular interest. The papers of Shields and Meyer are also housed in the Consumer Movement Archives at Kansas State University. These files include several issues of the organization's newsletter, Intercom, as well as documentation relating to Food Grading, Earth Day, consumer medicine, boycotts, and their relationship with the Consumer Federation of America.
The Government Consultancies Series (1976-1985) collects two boxes of documents arranged in alphabetical order and relating to Roy Kiesling's involvement as an advisor to California Bureau of Automotive Repair. Spanning his eight years on the board of review in the California Department of Consumer Affairs, these documents include meeting minutes, chronological files, agendas, appointments, and reports, which largely focus on public grievances and service industry concerns with state and local regulations. One particularly noteworthy set of documentation involves the creation of a set of standards to deter the potentially fraudulent conduct and floating prices of individuals in California considered "Transmission Specialists." Other files contain complete runs of the government printed newsletter, Automobiliana (later renamed Car Clips), which Kiesling used for reference. The series also includes annual reports for the years 1975-1981. Researchers will also find of interest a set of correspondence between Kiesling and economist Milton Freidman on the role of government and regulation in consumer protection and their potential long-term effects on the American economy.
The Research Series (1970-1982) consists of nine boxes of documents arranged in alphabetical order, which served as reference material for Roy Kiesling. These files include reports, briefing books, correspondence, legal documents, industry advertizing samples and newspaper clippings, concerning the ongoing activities of Consumer Alliance, Kiesling's personal interest in energy awareness, tort law, and toys. The files also contains correspondence and clippings featuring the author's relationship with members of the Federal Trade Commission, Colston Warne, and Richard L.D. Morse. Other sections of this series also include accumulated research on such topics as Food branding, labeling ingredients and measuring, the viability of Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans, "Intermittent Ignition Devices," utility rate normalization plans in California, and drafts of consumer protection agency legislation brought before the United States Congress. Kiesling considered the Intermittent Ignition Devices issue before the California Department of Energy, a subject covering the state government's regulation of pilot lights in water heaters an ideal example of well-intentioned consumer "regulation gone wrong." Finally, researchers will also find special interest in Kiesling's collection of memos, reports, and manuals relating to his time on the Consumer Advisory Council and Consumer Advisory Panel for Pacific Bell. The files cover issues relating to the deregulation of the telecommunications industry in the 1980s, subsequent court proceedings, customer guides, and the availability of telephone access for the physically challenged.
The Publications Series (1970-1988) consists of three boxes of periodicals, reports, and studies arranged in alphabetical order by title. Several of the files collect guides and directories for an assortment of businesses, including California cooperatives, consumer associations, and complaint guides. Other files contain consumer-related information pamphlets and bound public testimonies before congress as well as journal issues, newsletters, and a complete 1974-1978 run of the The Workbook. Other folders collect a number of photographs, depicting period leaders in the Consumer Movement. The last box in the series contains sample outlines, topical chapters, and different manuscript versions of Kiesling’s unpublished memoir. The majority of the documentation relates to the lessons he learned as a consumer advocate and his time in the Consumer Movement, including sections on Ester Peterson, automobile safety, the 1970s fight for the Federal Consumer Protection Agency Bill, Ralph Nader, the Tucson Consumer Symposium, Peter McCloskey, the production and marketing of Pringles, and Paul Ehrlich’s Zero Population Growth organization. A Consumer Alliance embossing seal has been transferred to the artifacts collection in the University Archives.
As a lawyer in the 1970s and 1980s, Kiesling was instrumental in the growth of several California-based outlets of the growing Consumer Movement. A co-founder of the Consumer Alliance with Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman, Kiesling helped craft a declaration of consumer rights, which included stipulations for the inclusion of name and complete mailing address of product manufacturers, the name of the product, model number, warnings usage, and the list of ingredients with accurate percentages stated on the product label. During this time, he also took part in the national meetings of the Consumer Federation of America and, in the aftermath of the "Milwaukee Massacre," helped shape the Conference of Consumer Organizations. Later, he represented the Consumers United of Palo Alto, the Consumers Cooperative Society of Palo Alto, and became president of the Consumer Federation of California. Unlike many consumer advocates, Kiesling also served as an advisor to government and business, including the Bureau of Automotive Repair in the Department of Consumer Affairs and Pacific Bell/AT&T.

Kiesling, Roy