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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: De Shields Family papers
    Dates: 1862-1945
    Collection number: MS 20
    Creator: De Shields, Albert
    Collection Size: .25 linear feet (1 box)
    Repository: African American Museum and Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: The De Shield Family Papers document three generations from the De Shields family. The bulk of the papers document the life and businesses of Ivan De Shields.
    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 De Shields Family Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum and Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    De Shields Family papers, MS 20, African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Acquisition Information

    These papers were donated by Albert De Shields on June 12,1992 to the Northern California Center for Afro-American History and Life.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Elizabeth Happy and Maria Ortiz (photographs) September 30, 1995

    Biography / Administrative History

    Benjamin De Shields
    Benjamin De Shields was born in Camden, New Jersey on July 2, 1834. He married Anna M. H. Williams of Boston on September 1, 1862, and his occupation is listed as gilder on his marriage certificate. All that is evident of his early life from the collection is that he stayed in Boston, Massachusetts after his marriage, where his son Ivan was born. In 1872, a business letter is addressed to him in Fredericksburg, Virginia. However, that same year, a land survey was made in California (presumably for Benjamin), and by 1895 he had bought land in Oakland and Fruitvale. With his wife, Anna, he had two children: Ivan, and a daughter, Bernice.
    Ivan De Shields
    Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1866, Ivan De Shields came to California with his parents, where he lived for the next 50 years of his life. He and his wife Eula adopted a boy, William, and had two sons of their own, John and Albert. The couple was divorced at the time of Eula's death on October 17, 1945. Ivan had a distillery in Fruitvale which distilled oils, primarily Eucalyptus oil, which he sold for aliments, including rheumatism, toothache, diphtheria, whooping cough, and asthma. He also was a driver for two laundry companies: Home Laundry and the Palace Hotel Laundry. A member of the Knights of Pythias, as well as a member of the Democratic party, Ivan died on May 3, 1945.
    Albert De Shields
    The youngest of the three sons of Ivan and Eula De Shields, Albert graduated from the McClymonds High School in Oakland, California in 1930. He is listed in the school yearbook as participating in the Dramatics Club, the Short-Story Club, and ROTC.
    Horatio L. Scott
    A friend of Ivan De Shields, Horatio Scott was born in Oakland. He travelled to Australia and then on to South Africa, where he worked in the Johannesburg gold mines. Unsympathetic to the Dutch in South Africa, he enlisted on the side of the British during the Boer War and served in the Light Horse Infantry. He was the only African American to obtain a gun permit in South Africa. Horatio returned to California and spent the remainder of his life touring the country giving lectures on his travels to churches and fraternal orders.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The De Shield Family Papers document three generations. The bulk of the collection concerns the life and businesses of Ivan De Shields. His personal papers consist primarily of documents, such as a voter registration card, a poll tax receipt, and his death certificate. There are two postcards reminding him of Masonic Lodge meetings, and a deposit book for the Knights of Pythias, of which he was a member of the sick committee. Most of his materials, however, relate to his businesses, such as promotional materials for the Eucalyptus oils he produced in his distillery. There is also a business letter and some inventory slips for two laundry companies. Some files record Ivan's financial affairs, such as receipts for state and county taxes between 1904-1927, as well as a letter and receiver's certificate concerning debt refinancing of the California Safe and Deposit and Trust Company. A letter from Los Angeles, addressed "Dear Cousin," solicits his investment in a business venture.
    The papers of his father, Benjamin De Shields, give only a brief glimpse into his personal life, such as a marriage certificate and a letter from a friend describing San Francisco in 1886. The bulk of his papers are legal documents regarding land titles, satisfaction of mortgage, and two surveys of land owned by him in 1872 and 1875.
    Albert De Shields represents the third generation and his papers consist of his diploma from McClymonds High School, Oakland, California in 1930, as well as the school yearbook, in which he appears on page 19. The materials concerning Horatio L. Scott are miscellaneous items relating to his travels away from Oakland which are described in two biographical newspaper clippings enclosed. Among these items are a gun permit from South Africa, 3 letters, and a club sponsorship based on his service with the British infantry during the Boer War.


    Series I. Ivan De Shields Series II. Benjamin De Shields Series III. Albert De Shields Series IV. Horatio L. Scott Series V. Photographs

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    African American families.
    Medicine, Botanic--United States--History.
    African American business enterprises.

    Related Material

    An oral history tape on the De Shields Family is part of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland oral history collection.