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Ron and Penny Zobel papers

Guide to the Ron and Penny Zobel papers

Collection number: HMC-1079.
Zobel, Penny (Patricia).
Zobel, Ron.
Title: Ron and Penny Zobel papers.
Dates: 1980-2005.
Volume of collection: 1.25 cubic feet and 1.75 GB.
Language of materials: Collection materials in English.
Collection summary: Documents primarily related to a law suit filed by the Zobels regarding the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend.

Biographical note:
Ron and Penny Zobel, both attorneys, moved to Alaska in 1978. In 1980, in response to the recently created Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) which set up a progressive scale of payments based on length of residency in Alaska as well as a related state statute that limited income tax to only the individuals that been in the state less than three years, the Zobels filed suit against the state of Alaska.  The income tax law was overturned by the state Supreme Court, but the PFD portion of the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled in favor of the Zobels. During the case and after, though supported by some Alaskans, the Zobels were widely vilified in public and received death threats, among other responses which are documented in the collection. Penny continues to work in private practice. Ron served as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Alaska in 1988 through 2003. Ron died of complications of cancer in 2005.

Collection description:
The collection primarily consists of materials related to the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend lawsuit. The collection contains correspondence between the Zobels and other attorneys working on the case regarding the suit, research files, notes, and subject files created by Ron Zobel as he wrote the brief presented to the Supreme Court, personal correspondence to the Zobels from Alaskans both vehemently opposed to the lawsuit and others in support of it, clippings, and a few artifacts produced by the Zobels’ opponents. Also included are condolence cards and letters addressed to Penny Zobel after Ron’s death in 2005. A small amount of materials in the collection pertain to Ron Zobel’s campaign for the Alaska State Senate. The collection includes an Alaska News Nightly story and interview with Ron Zobel. The collection also contains a film reel of the National Geographic Society production “Branches of Government: The Judicial Branch,” which featured the Zobel’s Supreme Court case.

Arrangement: Materials were retained in the order in which they were received. They are roughly by type or subject: correspondence, research files, condolences, artifacts, clippings, and so forth.

Alternative formats: Ron Zobel’s Alaska News Nightly story and interview are available on CD-ROM in the collection and on the Archives’ server.

Digitized copies: The newspaper clippings were retained in digital form only. Digital copies of collection material not available online. For information about obtaining digital copies or accessing digital materials from the collection, please contact Archives and Special Collections.

Rights note: Materials in the collection not created by the Zobels may be subject to copyright restrictions.

Preferred citation: Ron and Penny Zobel papers, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Acquisition note: The collection was given to the Archives by Penny Zobel in 2010. An addition was made by Penny Zobel in 2016.

Processing information: This collection was described by Arlene Schmuland in 2010. Additional material was described by Veronica Denison in 2016. The inventory for the collection was created by Anna Leinweber in 2018.

Box/Folder Description Dates
1/1 Law reviews and PFD plan 1975-1979
1/2 Legal notes undated
1/3-6 Legal documents 1980 April-November
1/7 Writings on law 1980
1/8 Legal case documents 1981
1/9 Legal research and correspondence 1981
1/10 Legal case documents 1982
1/11-16 Legal documents, Dividend plan by FPC, legal research 1982-1988
1/17-18 Case documents, legal writings and research undated
1/19 Court recordings (audiocassettes) Circa 1981-1983
1/20 Correspondence 1980 June-July
1/21-28 Correspondence 1980 August-1982 December
1/29 PFD story 1982
1/30 Correspondence, run for State Representative, photo for Senate race 1984-1992
1/31 Correspondence and sympathy cards 2005
1/32 Memorial service program and sympathy cards undated
1/33-34 KTUU Newshour DVD and APRN Stories DVD 2005 January-February
1/35 Correspondence undated
Box 2 National Geographic Society 16mm film “Branches of Government: The Judicial Branch” which featured the Zobel’s case circa 1982
OS Folder Citation, “Zobels Eat My Shorts” t-shirt, bumper sticker undated
Server Digitized newspaper and magazine clippings pertaining to the case, including1 many photos of the Zobels circa 1980-2005

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