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Guide to the Gibson Family Papers
MS 6  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Other Finding Aids

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Gibson Family papers
    Dates: 1887-1980
    Collection number: MS 6
    Collection Size: 1 linear foot (2 boxes)
    Repository: African American Museum and Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: The Gibson Family Papers encompass materials relating to six family members: Audrey Gibson Robinson; Charles Nelson Gibson; Lucinda Ray Gibson; Lois Gibson; Maude E. Gibson; and Frederick D. Robinson. Papers consist of clippings, biographical information, a scrapbook, photographs and assorted items such as postcards and poems collected by members of the Gibson family. Arranged by name of family member and thereafter by format and date.
    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 Gibson Family Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Gibson Family papers, MS 6, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Biography / Administrative History

    The Gibson family can trace its roots back to the pioneering days of California. Charles Nelson Gibson was born in Sacramento in 1879. His parents, William Henry Gibson and Lucinda Ray Gibson, became part of the African American community of West Oakland in the late nineteenth century. William Gibson obtained a position as a dining and club car waiter on the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1898 and worked for the railroad for thirty years. Lucinda Ray was a descendent of Nelson Ray, a slave who obtained his freedom in 1864 and came out to California to mine for gold. Through his profits, Ray acquired enough money to pay for his wife and childrens freedom and settled in Placerville, where he worked as a carpenter and blacksmith. The Ray family moved to Sacramento sometime prior to 1877.
    Charles Nelson Gibson followed in his father's footsteps and worked for Southern Pacific Railroad for forty-one years, from 1913-1954. He was often called upon to work in private railway cars of Southern Pacific officials. In 1901, he married his wife, Maude, and they had three daughters, Thelma, Lois, and Audrey. Gibson's civic activities included membership at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Oakland, the Retired Railroad Men's Club, and several masonic lodges. His daughter Thelma Gibson Radden became a director for the Detroit American Red Cross District, while his daughter Lois received medical training and worked in Oakland as a surgical chiropodist. Audrey Gibson Robinson also worked in Oakland as kindergarten teacher at Thornhill School. She married Frederick D. Robinson, a police officer from Washington D.C., in 1941 shortly before he would leave to fight in World War II. Frederick D. Robinson died in combat in Italy in 1944. Audrey became very active at the Oakland Museum, serving as Docent Chairman for the History Department and as Vice President of Administration for the Cameron-Stanford House Preservation Association.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Gibson Family Papers encompass materials relating to six family members: Audrey Gibson Robinson; Charles Nelson Gibson; Lucinda Ray Gibson; Lois Gibson; Maude E. Gibson; and Frederick D. Robinson. The papers include Charles Gibson's notes on family history, as well as biographical clippings and photos. Lois Gibson's involvement in the Xi Alpha chapter of Zeta Phi Beta sorority is documented in a scrapbook she compiled of clippings noting chapter events and national news. This scrapbook also contains a few photos of Lois and her friends. Materials on other family members are present in the form of clippings, photographs, biographical sketches, and postcards. The collection also contains an eight page journal maintained by Lucinda Ray Gibson during a cross-country trip by rail in 1924, Frederick D. Robinson's war letters to Audrey Gibson Robinson shortly before his death in Italy in 1944, and 335 photographs and negatives of the Gibson family.


    Series I. Audrey Gibson Robinson Series II. Maude Gibson Series III. Charles Nelson Gibson Series IV. Lucinda Ray Gibson Series V. Frederick D. Gibson Series VI. Lois Gibson Series VII. Photographs

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Railroad travel--United States.
    World War, 1939-1945--African Americans.
    Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
    African Americans--California--East Bay--History.

    Other Finding Aids

    Black Women Stirring the Waters Collection, African American Museum & Library at Oakland