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Spear, Allan H.

Senate 1973-82 (District 57); Senate 1983-92 (District 59); Senate 1993-2000 (District 60)

Party when first elected:  Nonpartisan Election-Democratic-Farmer-Labor Caucus

Counties Served:  Hennepin

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Date of Birth: 6/24/1937
Birth Place: Michigan City, Indiana
Birth County:
Birth Country: United States
Date of Death: 10/11/2008
Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Reported Minority: None Reported
Other Names:
City of Residence (when first elected): Minneapolis
Occupation (when first elected): Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota

EDUCATION

Oberlin College, Ohio; B.A.; 1958
Yale University; M.A.; 1960
Yale University; Ph.D.; History, 1965
Oberlin College, Ohio; LL.D.; Honorary Degree

OTHER GOVERNMENT SERVICE

State Board/Commission/Council: Minnesota Historical Society (Member); 19?? to ?
State Board/Commission/Council: Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board (Appointed by Gov. Ventura); 01/04/2001 to 12/2003 [Appointed]

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

Spouse/Partner: Single; Junjiro Tsuji (around 1987)
Children:
Family Members Who Have Served in the Minnesota Legislature:

GENERAL NOTES

Special Legislative Concerns: criminal law/justice, corrections, law reform, human rights, human services, consumer protection.

He was the first openly gay member of the Minnesota Legislature (he acknowledged that he was gay while he was in office on December 9, 1974). He was the longest serving openly gay state legislator in the United States when he retired in 2000. He was one of the first openly gay state legislators in the United States.

He was the first nonlawyer to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He was a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

He taught history at the University of Minnesota for thirty-five years (MNopedia).

He died, in a hospital, of complications following heart surgery. His funeral was held on November 23, 2008 at Temple Israel in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He was a member of the Shir Tikvah Synagogue Board.

Religion provided by the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Total Days Served: 10228

SESSIONS SERVED

81st Legislative Session (1999-2000) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 60
Elected: 11/5/1996
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/7/1997 to 1/2/2001
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Bills Authored: Chief Author     Author
Committees:
  • Commerce
  • Commerce: Consumer Protection and Regulated Industries
  • Crime Prevention (Chair)
  • Human Resources Finance
  • Judiciary
  • Judiciary/Crime Prevention/Human Resources Finance: Crime Prevention and Judiciary Budget Division
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Bill Referral
  • Rules and Administration: Committees
  • Rules and Administration: Permanent and Joint Rules
  • Rules and Administration: Personnel
Leadership Position: President of the Senate

80th Legislative Session (1997-1998)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 60
Elected: 11/5/1996
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/7/1997 to 1/2/2001
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Bills Authored: Chief Author     Author
Committees:
  • Commerce
  • Commerce: Consumer Protection and Regulated Industries
  • Crime Prevention (Chair)
  • Human Resources Finance
  • Judiciary
  • Judiciary/Crime Prevention/Human Resources Finance: Crime Prevention and Judiciary Budget Division
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Bill Referral
  • Rules and Administration: Committees
  • Rules and Administration: Permanent and Joint Rules
  • Rules and Administration: Personnel
Leadership Position: President of the Senate

79th Legislative Session (1995-1996) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 60
Elected: 11/3/1992
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/5/1993 to 1/6/1997
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Bills Authored: Chief Author     Author
Committees:
  • Crime Prevention (Chair)
  • Crime Prevention: Crime Prevention Finance Division
  • Finance
  • Gaming Regulation
  • Judiciary
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Bill Referral
  • Rules and Administration: Committees
  • Rules and Administration: Permanent and Joint Rules
Leadership Position: President of the Senate

78th Legislative Session (1993-1994)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 60
Elected: 11/3/1992
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/5/1993 to 1/6/1997
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Crime Prevention (Chair)
  • Crime Prevention: Crime Prevention Finance Division
  • Finance
  • Gaming Regulation
  • Judiciary
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Bill Referral
  • Rules and Administration: Committees
  • Rules and Administration: Permanent and Joint Rules
Leadership Position: President of the Senate

77th Legislative Session (1991-1992)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 59
Elected: 11/6/1990
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/8/1991 to 1/4/1993
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Commerce
  • Commerce: Banking
  • Finance
  • Finance: Health and Human Services Division
  • Gaming Regulation
  • Judiciary (Chair)
  • Judiciary: Criminal Law Division
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Committees
  • Rules and Administration: Permanent and Joint Rules

76th Legislative Session (1989-1990) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 59
Elected: 11/4/1986
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/6/1987 to 1/7/1991
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Commerce
  • Commerce: Consumer Protection
  • Commerce: Regulated Industries
  • Finance
  • Finance: Health and Human Services Division
  • Judiciary (Chair)
  • Judiciary: Criminal Law Division
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Committees
  • Rules and Administration: Permanent and Joint Rules

75th Legislative Session (1987-1988)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 59
Elected: 11/4/1986
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/6/1987 to 1/7/1991
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Commerce
  • Commerce: Consumer Protection
  • Commerce: Regulated Industries
  • Finance
  • Finance: Health and Human Services Division
  • Judiciary (Chair)
  • Judiciary: Criminal Law Division
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Committees
  • Rules and Administration: Permanent and Joint Rules

74th Legislative Session (1985-1986) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 59
Elected: 11/2/1982
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/4/1983 to 1/5/1987
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Finance
  • Finance: Health and Human Services
  • Governmental Operations
  • Judiciary (Chair)
  • Judiciary: Civil Law
  • Judiciary: Criminal Law
  • Public Utilities and State Regulated Industries
  • Public Utilities and State Regulated Industries: Gaming and Investigations
  • Public Utilities and State Regulated Industries: Regulated Industries
  • Rules and Administration

73rd Legislative Session (1983-1984)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 59
Elected: 11/2/1982
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/4/1983 to 1/5/1987
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Finance
  • Finance: Health and Human Services
  • Governmental Operations
  • Judiciary (Chair)
  • Judiciary: Civil Law
  • Judiciary: Criminal Law
  • Public Utilities and State Regulated Industries
  • Public Utilities and State Regulated Industries: Gaming and Investigations
  • Public Utilities and State Regulated Industries: Regulated Industries
  • Rules and Administration

72nd Legislative Session (1981-1982)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 57
Elected: 11/4/1980
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/6/1981 to 1/3/1983
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Commerce
  • Commerce: Publicly Regulated Industries
  • Finance
  • Finance: Health, Welfare and Corrections
  • Finance: State Departments
  • Judiciary
  • Judiciary: Law Revision
  • Judiciary: Real Estate Law (Chair)
  • Public Employees and Pensions (Chair)
  • Rules and Administration

71st Legislative Session (1979-1980) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 57
Elected: 11/2/1976
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/4/1977 to 1/5/1981
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Commerce
  • Commerce: Consumer Protection (Chair)
  • Commerce: Insurance
  • Finance
  • Finance: Computers
  • Finance: Health, Welfare and Corrections (Chair) [He became the Chair after B. Robert Lewis died.]
  • Finance: State Departments
  • Judiciary
  • Judiciary: Criminal Law (Chair) [He was the Chair in 1979 only.]
  • Judiciary: Judicial Administration (Chair)

70th Legislative Session (1977-1978)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 57
Elected: 11/2/1976
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/4/1977 to 1/5/1981
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Commerce
  • Commerce: Consumer Protection and Economic Development (Chair)
  • Finance
  • Finance: State Departments
  • Judiciary
  • Judiciary: Judicial Administration (Chair)

69th Legislative Session (1975-1976) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 57
Elected: 11/7/1972
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/2/1973 to 1/3/1977
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Democratic-Farmer-Labor Caucus
Committees:
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections: Adult Corrections
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections: Corrections
  • Judiciary
  • Judiciary: Public Law Reform
  • Labor and Commerce
  • Labor and Commerce: Labor

68th Legislative Session (1973-1974)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 57
Elected: 11/7/1972
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/2/1973 to 1/3/1977
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Democratic-Farmer-Labor Caucus
Committees:
  • Education
  • Education: Junior College Faculty Reduction (Chair)
  • Education: School Finance
  • Education: Teacher Preparation, Standards and Certification
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections: Corrections
  • Labor and Commerce
  • Labor and Commerce: Labor

Senate Photos

The photos in this collection were scanned from the files of the Minnesota Senate Photographer with the generous help of the Minnesota Digital Library, and are included in the Minnesota Reflections collection.

Articles & Books By
Spear, Allan H. Crossing the Barriers: The Autobiography of Allan H. Spear. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

Spear, Allan H. Black Chicago: The Making of a Negro Ghetto, 1890-1920. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967.


Articles & Books About
Matheson, Jack. "Spear, Allan Henry (1937-2008)" MNopedia, May 31, 2017.

Preston, Joshua. "Senator Allan Spear and the Minnesota Human Rights Act." Minnesota History, Fall 2016, p. 76-87.

"Spear, Allan H. (Obituary)." Saint Paul Pioneer Press, October 19, 2008, p. B6.

Olson, Jeremy. "1st Openly Gay State Senator Championed Civil Rights." St. Paul Pioneer Press, Otober 13, 2008, p. 1A, 8A.

Tevlin, Jon. "Senator, in Championing Justice, Saw Role Beyond That of Pioneer; Allan Spear 1937-2008." StarTribune, October 13, 2008, p. B1, B5.



The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library has collected newspaper articles on legislators since 1973. They are available in the Library.