Royal E. Towns (1899-1990) was born February 10, 1899 in Oakland, California to William and Elizabeth Scott Towns. The Royal
E. Towns Papers consists of photographs, correspondence, publications, financial and legal records, and ephemera that document
Towns’ work as a City of Oakland firefighter, photographer, director of public relations for Free and Accepted Masons of California,
and as an amateur historian.
Royal E. Towns (1899-1990) was born February 10, 1899 in Oakland, California to William and Elizabeth Scott Towns. Towns was
raised in West Oakland and attended West Oakland Free Kindergarten and married Lucille Dennis in 1920. He worked for a short
time as dining car waiter before joining the Oakland Fire Department as a hoseman at Engine No. 22 in 1927. In 1941, Towns
became the first African American to be appointed as the fire department’s chief operator, and eventually was promoted to
lieutenant, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1962.
17.8 linear feet
(30 boxes + 1 oversized box)
Permission to publish from the Royal E. Towns Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum and Library at Oakland.
No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.