Stephens Family Papers

Two men in white uniforms stand in the Stephens family restaurant
William Stephens (right) and employee inside Stephens' Restaurant, circa 1920s, Stephens Family papers, MS 5, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library.

The Stephens Family Papers consist of photographs and ephemera documenting Stephens Restaurant, Virginia Stephen Coker's winning entry in a 1915 newspaper contest, and Virginia Stephen Coker's achievements as a lawyer. Menus, tape receipts, and photographs from the restaurant provide a glimpse into one of Oakland's busiest establishments. The papers  include a typescript draft of a letter William Stephens (1870-1932) wrote in 1931 regarding opposition to his purchase of a house in Oakland, an example of unfair housing practices common to the era. Materials related to Virginia Stephens Coker (1903-1986) include the letter of congratulations she received upon winning the Panama-Pacific International Exposition naming contest, middle school report cards, her law school graduation announcement, and several State bar membership certificates.

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Dates: 1896-1952
Collection number: MS 5
Collection Size: .25 linear feet (1 box + 1 oversized box)

Guide to the Stephens Family Papers

Available at the African American Museum & Library at Oakland (AAMLO)

We encourage researchers to contact AAMLO before visiting so that we can be prepared to assist you. Please call 510-637-2000 or email to arrange an appointment or inquire about access.