Bella Hurst (Herscovich) Aaron was born in Canada and immigrated to Utah via Montana as a young child. She grew up in Ogden, Utah, the eldest daughter of eight children. Her elder brother, Morris, died at the age of ten. Her parents Clara and David Herscovich emigrated from Romania to Canada. Bella received a teaching credential from Weber College in Ogden, Utah in 1929 and a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah. In 1934 she moved to San Francisco, Calif., and entered San Francisco Law School in 1939. She received her degree and was admitted to the state bar in 1942. Her first position was in the law office of Matthew Tobriner and Leland Lazarus. She stayed with Tobriner until 1945, when he became a California Supreme Court Justice. In Tobriner's office, she became an expert in labor law. She remained in general practice until 1972, but she also moved into public service. She served on the San Rafael Board of Education from 1961 to 1965, and worked for Marin County from 1966 to 1977, serving on the Human Rights Commission, as director of the Police Community Relations Department, and as director of the Criminal Justice Planning Agency. She also served as chairman of the North Bay Regional Criminal Justice Planning Board, and as a consultant to Woman's Way and the Democratic Women of the County of Marin. She was legislative counsel for the National Council of Jewish Women (1961-1963). She also was involved in seeking a settlement from the Iraqi government for the wrongful death of Eugene Burns, an American journalist who was killed in Iraq in 1958, and in supporting John Owen's claim to the estate of his adopted mother, former San Francisco madam and former mayor of Sausalito, Sally Stanford. Bella Hurst married Louis Aaron in 1941 and they adopted two daughters, Deena and Susan. Susan married William Banker and Deena married Robert South. The Aarons traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East and, at one point, owned a home in Greece.
The collection includes Bella Hurst Aaron's personal and family papers (1940s-1992), political and public service papers (1960s and 1970s), files (1957-1991) relating to Eugene Burns and the Holy Land foundation, files (1946-1990) on Aaron's involvement in John Owen's challenge to the will of Sally Stanford, former madame, restaurant owner and mayor of Sausalito, California, and photographs. Among the personal and family papers is a memoir dictated by Bella Hurst Aaron's mother Clara Hurst (Herscovich) reflecting on her immigration to Canada from Romania in the late 1890s, her adolescence in Canada and marriage to a gambler, motherhood and family issues, her journey from retail work in the field of secondhand clothing to being the owner of a large furniture store in Ogden, Utah, the death of her first husband and remarriage, and the careers of her children. Also among the personal and family papers are Bella Hurst Aaron's certificates, her resume and diplomas, and a small amount of family correspondence. Among the political and public service papers are files on Aaron's campaign for a seat on the San Rafael School Board in 1961 and working folders and clipping files from her work on criminal justice and police relations, together with correspondence detailing police grievance issues Aaron dealt with as Marin county's law enforcement grievance hearings officer. The documents from her work in the county's Criminal Justice Planning Department include her personal file called "Bella's Manual," which contains incoming and outgoing items from July to Oct. 1976 and information on the sex discrimination lawsuit she filed against the county after being forced to resign in 1977. The collection also contains a collection of photographs, including family photos of Bella Aaron and her siblings as children, family pictures from the 1940s, photographs of Aaron's law school graduation, the grave of Morris Herscovich (Clara's eldest son), and a picture of Clara and son Eddie at his furniture store. Other photographs include travel photos (including the construction of Aaron's Greek house), photos of friends and events, and a large number of photos of dogs and children.