Guide to the Virna M. Canson Papers

Sean Heyliger
African American Museum and Library at Oakland
659 14th Street
Oakland, California 94612
Phone: (510) 637-0198
Fax: (510) 637-0204
Email: aamlo@oaklandlibrary.org
URL: http://www.oaklandlibrary.org/locations/african-american-museum-library-oakland
© 2013
African American Museum and Library at Oakland. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Virna M. Canson Papers

Collection number: MS 29

African American Museum and Library at Oakland

Oakland, California
Processed by:
Sean Heyliger
Date Completed:
05/02/2013
Encoded by:
Sean Heyliger
© 2013 African American Museum and Library at Oakland. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Virna M. Canson papers
Dates: circa 1900s-2003
Collection number: MS 29
Creator: Canson, Virna M., 1921-
Collection Size: .5 linear feet (1 box + 1 oversized box)
Repository: African American Museum and Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
Oakland, CA 94612
Abstract: The Virna M. Canson papers include photographs, correspondence, programs, certificates, and newspaper clippings documenting Canson’s activities with the NAACP and credit unions, politics, and her personal and family history.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

Access

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 Virna M. Canson Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum and Library at Oakland.

Preferred Citation

Virna M. Canson papers, MS 29, African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

Processing Information

Sean Heyliger, 05/02/2013.

Biography / Administrative History

Virna Mae Canson (1921-2003) was born on June 10, 1921 in Bridgeport, Oklahoma to William Augustus Dobson and Eula Mae Gross Dobson. Her father was a veteran of World War I and a graduate of Langston University, the only historically black university in Oklahoma. Both her parents worked as school teachers, and her father served as mayor of the all-black town of Lima, Oklahoma. The Dobson family was politically active and participated in the federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, Women’s, Oklahoma Association of Negro Teachers, and the National Unity of Colored Women.
After graduating from Douglass High School in Wewoka, Oklahoma, Canson attended the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama as a home economics major. At Tuskegee, she met her husband Clarence Canson, a tailoring major, and the two wed on August 7, 1940. The following year their son, Clarence Jr., was born and Clarence Canson enlisted in the Air Force with the outbreak of World War II. After the war, Virna and Clarence became active in the NAACP, Clarence as a legal advisor after earning a law degree from the University of the Pacific in 1954, and Virna served as treasurer and manager of the Sacramento Branch NAACP Credit Union (1953-1989), Credit Union & Consumer Education Specialist for State Office of Economic Opportunity (1965-1967), West Coast Field Director and Legislative Advocate (1967-1974), and West Coast Regional Director (1974-1988). He work was instrumental in many landmark civil rights and affirmative action cases including two important equal housing cases, Ming v. Horgan and NAACP v. City and County of Sacramento, which fought to limit racial segregation in housing, and Bakke v. Board of Regents of the University of California which targeted affirmative action programs.

Scope and Content of Collection

The Virna M. Canson papers include photographs, correspondence, programs, certificates, and newspaper clippings documenting Canson’s activities with the NAACP and credit unions, politics, and her personal and family history. The papers are arranged into two sub-groups, Virna M. Canson and Clarence Canson. The bulk of the papers are photographs related to Canson’s family history in Oklahoma and her participation in politics, civil rights, and credit unions. The papers include some general correspondence and awards related to her work at the NAACP, her service on various advisory boards, and the NAACP’s Federal Credit Union annual meetings. The Clarence Canson sub-group includes two certificates from the Tuskegee Institute and his law degree from the University of the Pacific.

Arrangement

Sub-group 1.Virna M. Canson Series I. Photographs Series II. NAACP Series III. Political activities Series IV. Credit Unions Series V. Biographical Series VI. Newspaper clippings Sub-group 2. Clarence Canson Series I. Clarence Canson

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Canson, Virna M., 1921-.
Civil rights--United States--History--20th century--Sources.
Credit unions--California--History.

Other Finding Aids

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Region I, Records, BANC MSS 78/180 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Collection Contents

 

Virna M. Canson

Physical Description: 10 folders

Series Scope and Content Summary

Includes 84 photographs related to Canson's activities in the civil rights movement, credit unions, and assorted family photographs. Also included is one folder of biographical material on Canson, assorted programs and correspondence documenting her work with credit unions and the NAACP, political activities on various governmental advisory boards, and newspaper clippings.

Arrangement

Arranged by format. Photographs arranged by photograph identification number.
 

Photographs

Box 1:1

Group photograph of women attending the State Junior Officers meeting, Guthrie, California [001] undated

Box 1:1

Portrait of Clarence B. Canson [002] 1963

Box 1:1

Group photograph at the University of Wisconsin CUNA School [003] circa 1950s

Box 1:1

Woman seated with three children [004] circa 1900s

Box 1:1

Nate Colley speaking at banquet table [2 copies][005] undated

Box 1:1

Group photograph in living room [006] undated

Box 1:1

Group photograph at the West Coast Regional NAACP Conference, Asilomar, California [007] 1954

Box 1:1

Students sitting on bench, reverse: 'Pa of Virna at town Anadarks, Oklahoma, his students' [008] circa 1910s

Box 1:1

Portrait of Gladys Canson [009] undated

Box 1:1

Virna Canson, age 2, standing on porch with Millinery hats for sale sign in background [010] 1923

Box 1:1

Virna Canson standing next to brother William D. Dobson [011] circa 1930s

Box 1:1

Eula Mae Dobson holding dog next to William Augustus Dobson [012] circa 1910s

Box 1:1

Group photograph at the West Coast Regional NAACP Conference, Asilomar, California [013] 1953

Box 1:1

Virna Canson and brother William D. Dobson leaning against a car [014] 1938

Box 1:1

Virna, William, and William Augustus Dobson on Illinois building steps at the Chicago's World Fair [015] undated

Box 1:2

Men and women seated at tables at Order of the Eastern Star banquet [016] undated

Box 1:2

Men and women holding diplomas in group photograph [017] circa 1955

Box 1:2

Virna and William Dobson leaning over lily pond [018] circa 1930s

Box 1:2

Virna Canson and two men holding up Central Democratic Canson sign [019] undated

Box 1:2

Man speaking into microphone at banquet [020] undated

Box 1:2

Man with foot on car bumper in front of entrance to The Crystal Cave, Hot Springs, Arkansas [021] circa 1910s

Box 1:2

William Augustus Dobson leaning on Model T car [023] circa 1910s

Box 1:2

Virna Canson as a young girl standing on front porch, Sapulpa, Oklahoma [024] circa 1920s

Box 1:2

National Unity of Colored Women parade, Chicago, Illinois [025] 1933

Box 1:2

Virna Canson [?] standing next to car after the National Unity of Colored Women parade, Chicago, Illinois [026] 1933

Box 1:2

Portrait of Eula Mae Gross Dobson [027] 1938

Box 1:2

Portrait of three boys and two girls [028] circa 1910s

Box 1:2

Graduation portrait of unidentified women [029] undated

Box 1:2

Group seated in banquet hall with men and women holding community group signs in front of stage at the Deaf, Blind, and Orphan Institute, Taft Oklahoma [030] circa 1930s

Box 1:2

Renée Coleman, Virna Canson, and man looking at document [030] undated

Box 1:2

Men and women seated at dining tables, reverse: 'Gertrude Blackwell and Curtis Blackwell' [031] undated

Box 1:2

Colorized portrait of Virna Canson [032] circa 1940s

Box 1:3

Virna Canson with women members of the Order of the Eastern Star [033] undated

Box 1:3

Virna Canson giving woman a purse [034] undated

Box 1:3

Nate Colley speaking at banquet table [035] undated

Box 1:3

Group photograph at the Oklahoma Association of Negro Teachers meeting in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma [036] circa 1920s

Box 1:3

Group photograph, reverse: '[--] NAACP' [037] circa 1970s

Box 1:3

William Augustus Dobson in group photograph in front of building [038] circa 1910s

Box 1:3

Langston University graduating class photograph, summer session, reverse: ' WA Dobson 2nd #5 W.Young, Pres. Of Langston #1 row #6 [039] 1923

Box 1:3

Two men in uniforms shaking hands, reverse: 'Mr. Canson at Tuskegee' [040] undated

Box 1:3

Eula Mae Dobson and William Augustus Dobson at a rail station [041] circa 1910s

Box 1:3

Virna Canson standing next to two men at podium, reverse: 'Act S0/NAACP program' [042] undated

Box 1:3

Virna Canson standing with two Bank of America representatives [043] undated

Box 1:3

Ralph Dills, Theresa Hughes, and Virna Canson [044] undated

Box 1:3

Two women next to car [045] circa 1920s

Box 1:3

Woman and boy standing next to car [046] circa 1920s

Box 1:3

Two women and boy standing next to car [047] circa 1920s

Box 1:3

Two men and a woman seated in a wooded area [048] undated

Box 1:3

Men and women seated at dining tables [049] undated

Box 1:3

Virna Canson standing banquet table with group of men and women [050] undated

Box 1:4

Virna Canson and men and women at credit union meeting, Oakland, California [051] 1962

Box 1:4

Leonard H. Carter standing in front of microphone [052] undated

Box 1:4

Group photograph of men and women [053] undated

Box 1:4

Class photograph, University of Wisconsin Credit Union National Association school (includes Virna Canson) [054] circa 1950s

Box 1:4

Photographer taking photograph of Virna Canson and three students at University of Wisconsin Credit Union National Association school [055] circa 1950s

Box 1:4

Virna Canson shaking hands with Vance Austin, head of International Credit Union Committee [056] circa 1950s

Box 1:4

Group photograph at the NAACP Installation Banquet, W.C.I. Home, Women's Civic Improvement [057] 1952

Box 1:4

Virna Canson, Pat and Beatrice Kennedy, and unidentified persons [058] circa 1950s

Box 1:4

Group photograph [059] circa 1950s

Box 1:4

Virna Canson seated at dining table, Credit union school [060] undated

Box 1:4

Virna Canson seated at table with two men [061] undated

Box 1:4

Canson family photograph [062] 1976

Box 1:4

Virna Canson, Benjamin Hooks, and Bob Geil [063] 1978

Box 1:4

Harry Brooks, Benjamin Hooks, Virna Canson, Ernie Frazier, Hawaii [064] circa 1982

Box OM4

Class photograph, University of Wisconsin Credit Union National Association school [065] 1958

Box OM4

Class photograph, University of Wisconsin Credit Union National Association school [066] circa 1950s

Box 1:5

Group of men and Virna Canson, Relocation Committee [067] 1955

Box 1:5

Tuskegee Institute Honor Company [?] marching on football field [068] undated

Box 1:5

Virna Canson and woman leaning on wall [069] undated

Box 1:5

Woman and boy standing next to car [070] undated

Box 1:5

Woman and boy sitting in chairs [071] undated

Box 1:5

Virna Canson, man, boy, and dog sitting in chairs [072] undated

Box 1:5

Two women and boy standing next to car [073] undated

Box 1:5

Man standing next to fence post [074] undated

Box 1:5

Virna Canson speaking at Sacramento NAACP Credit Union dinner [075] undated

Box 1:5

Man sitting on house frame [076] undated

Box 1:5

Man working on house frame [077] undated

Box 1:5

Man standing on house frame [078] undated

Box 1:5

Man leaning over wood frame holding a hammer [079] undated

Box 1:5

Man leveling wood posts [080] undated

Box 1:5

Virna Canson sitting with two men in wooded area [081] undated

Box 1:5

Three women standing with boy [082] undated

Box 1:5

Woman sitting on rock wall with boy in the foreground [083] undated

Box 1:5

Virna Canson sitting with two men in wooded area [084] undated

Box 1:6

NAACP files 1954-1988

Box 1:7

Political activities 1955-1984

Box 1:8

Biographical 1933-2003

Box 1:9

Credit unions 1958-1962

Box 1:10

Newspaper clippings 1938-1979

Box OM2

The Observer Newspapers, Virna Mae Canson: Mother of Civil Rights in the West, 1921-2003 [2 copies] 2003

 

Clarence Canson

Physical Description: 2 items

Series Scope and Content Summary

Includes Canson's Tuskegee Institute Cadet corps certificate and law degree from the University of the Pacific.

Arrangement

Arranged by format.
Box OM2

Tuskegee Institute Cadet corps certificate 1938

Box OM2

University of the Pacific law degree 1955