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Guide to the Joshua Rose Papers
MS 8  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Joshua Rose papers
    Dates: 1924-1987
    Collection number: MS 8
    Creator: Rose, Joshua
    Collection Size: 1 linear foot (2 boxes + 1 oversized box)
    Repository: African American Museum and Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: The Joshua Rose Papers document Rose's life and contributions to the Oakland community as an executive for the Oakland YMCA and as a member of the Oakland Recreation Commission and the first African American to serve on the Oakland City Council.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.

    Access Restrictions

    Materials are for use in-library only, non-circulating.

    Publication Rights

    Permission to publish from the Joshua Rose Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum and Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Joshua Rose papers, MS 8, African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Marianne Carden, 06/10/1995. Finding aid updated and container list verified by Sean Heyliger, 01/23/2013. Finding aid updated to add material from Accession #2017-015 by Sean Heyliger on April 21, 2017.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Joshua Rose was born on September 11,1906 in Lexington, Virginia to George and Mary Charles Rose. The family later moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Joshua attended Schenley High School. He worked his way through the University of Pittsburgh by part-time work at the steel mills and at the Center Ave. YMCA in Pittsburgh. In 1937, he received a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration.
    Rose's job at the YMCA provided an avenue to his first professional position at the YMCA in Montclair, New Jersey. In 1939, Rose and his family moved to Oakland, where he worked to raise funds for the establishment of a branch of the Oakland YMCA to serve the African American community. The Northwest Branch, as it was eventually called, opened at a temporary location at 36th and San Pablo and then moved to 3265 Market St. in the early 1940s. Rose inaugurated many new programs, including summer day camps which combined the traditional elements of arts and crafts and sports with outdoor excursions and a camping trip to Yosemite. Through the YMCA's programs, Rose worked to provide many Oakland youth with constructive activities and summertime employment. He retired in 1967 as Associate General Secretary of the Metropolitan Branch.
    In 1947, Rose was selected over Claude O. Allen to become the first African American member of the Board of Playground Directors. Later re-named the Oakland Recreation Commission, the board studied the recreation needs of the city and provided recommendations for new developments and improvements to existing facilities. During his tenure as a member between 1947 and 1964, the commission convinced the City of Oakland to establish eight new recreation centers and to improve athletic facilities at ten existing sites. Rose served as chairman of the commission from 1961-62.
    On August 27, 1964, Rose achieved another milestone when he was selected by Mayor Houlihan to complete the unexpired term of Robert V. McKeen on the Oakland City Council. As the first African American to sit on the City Council, Rose served the 2nd District, which included North Oakland and a portion of Montclair. He was unanimously appointed over three other candidates, Barney Hilburn, Kenneth F. Smith, and Hampton Barnett, when it was discovered that only Rose actually resided within the 2nd District. Re-elected for three subsequent terms in 1965, 1969, and 1973, Rose played a key role in preventing rioting in Oakland during the late sixties. Public officials commended him for his efforts to find practical solutions to racial discontent and violence. The lasting effects of injuries sustained in a car accident in 1971 prompted Rose to step down from his position on the City Council in 1977. He officially retired on June 30,1977.
    Rose was a member of the Oakland Rotary Club, Men of Tomorrow, Inc., Children's Vision Center of the Eastbay, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, and The Free and Accepted Masons, Adonis Lodge. He also served on the Speaker's Bureau of the Community Chest/United Crusade. Rose also served as treasurer and member of the finance committee at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church and helped to establish a thrift center at the church to give employment opportunities to youth in the neighborhood. Rose also co-chaired the first school bond passed by the City of Oakland and helped the Oakland Public School system to revise the English curriculum at McClymond's High School.
    Rose's wife, Virginia, worked for many years in Oakland as head teacher at Longfellow Child Care Center. His three children, Richard, Virginia, and Mary, remained in California and pursued successful professional careers. Richard worked as an accountant in Los Angeles, Virginia as a school teacher in Los Angeles, and Mary as a reporter in Berkeley and Oakland. Rose died of Parkinson's Disease on April 13, 1987.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Joshua Rose Papers document Rose's life and contributions to the Oakland community as an executive for the Oakland YMCA and as a member of the Oakland Recreation Commission and the Oakland City Council. The biographical series includes newspaper clippings, obituaries, correspondence, and photographs from his youth and of his family. Also included are assorted certificates from athletic events and a history of the Holy Cross Athletic Club in Pittsburgh. Assorted personal correspondence also documents honors Rose received from various organizations for his civic work.
    The papers include only one file of correspondence and reports dating from 1966-67 related to his work with the Oakland YMCA. This file regards other branches and their activities and is primarily an exchange of letters between Rose and Wesley Hunter of the Northeast Branch YMCA.
    Rose's political activities are more thoroughly documented through clippings, correspondence, photographs, and appointment books. His term on the Board of Playground Directors and its successor, the Oakland Recreation Commission, is outlined in clippings about his appointment and in a citation from the commission regarding his achievements. Letters of congratulation, clippings, and photos document Rose's appointment and subsequent re-election to the Oakland City Council. These reveal how both the public and personal friends reacted to the appointment of the first African American to the council. Other items, such as election flyers, business cards, certificates, and clippings, provide an indication of Rose's subsequent years in this position. Clippings and correspondence prepared upon his retirement offer a summary of some of his principal contributions as a councilman. In addition, a set of appointment books covering the entire span' of his terms of office from 1964-1977 offer insight into his daily schedule. Ceremonial events, as well as campaign and community service activities, are documented visually in a series of publicity photos.


    Series I. Biographical Series II. Y.M.C.A. Oakland Series III. Political Activities Series IV. Photographs

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Y.M.C.A. Oakland.
    Rose, Joshua.
    Oakland (Calif.)--History.