Anna Yates

Women’s History Month: Who was Anna Yates?

3 mins read

Anna Yates adorns Emeryville Unified’s K-8 school and most residents are familiar with her name. But very little is known or has been written about her.

We’ve been able to piece a bit of a snapshot of her life using newspaper archives, city directories and census data.

Lucius Yates

Anna’s father Lucius Yates was born in New York in 1832. He immigrated to California with his first wife as a young man and settled in Stockton where he operated a horse stable.

Lucius remarried his second wife Therza whom he had three daughters with: Anna, Flora, and Lucia. Anna Hook Yates was born on May 2, 1872 when Lucius was 40 years old.

Move to Oakland

In about 1876 at the age of 44, Lucius moved his family to Oakland. In the 1880s, his residence was listed at 43rd Street & San Pablo Avenue on a tract owned by Joseph Emery.

In the 1880s, he held the position of Deputy County Clerk. By the end of the decade he was promoted to Deputy County Assessor.

By 1890 he was living with his family at 839 36th Street in North Oakland, only a half block from the Emeryville line.

Anna graduated from Oakland High School in 1892. Following graduation, she was awarded a primary teaching certificate by the county board in 1893 when she was 21.

Oakland Tribune – Jan 04, 1893, p. 1.

Father’s Passing

Lucius died on April 2, 1895 of “general paralysis” at the age of 63. Anna was 23 at the time of his death. This was one year prior to Emeryville incorporating as a town.

A man of some status and notoriety, his obituary appeared the next day on the front page of the Oakland Enquirer. His remains were sent to Stockton for burial.

Clipping: Oakland Enquirer April 3, 1895 p. 1

The obituary also noted that one of his three daughters was a teacher at Emeryville School presumed to be Anna.

The three Yates sisters continued to live at 839 36th St after the death of their father.

Emeryville Grammar School

The first Emeryville Grammar School was in 1881 and was a rented building at Park and San Pablo Avenue. In 1887, the Emeryville Grammar School moved to a building on San Pablo and 38th Street.

The first school constructed in Emeryville was at 1070 41st Street in 1887.

Anna moved around the area several times over the next couple decades. By 1899, she was living at 2300 Adeline Street. In 1900 she lived at 2251 Market St. In 1902 she lived at 916 35th Street in Oakland.

Yates’ residences throughout her life were clustered around Emeryville and neighboring Oakland communities.

By 1904 she was living in 1083 41st in Emeryville near the Emeryville School where she worked. By 1905, Anna’s two sisters were listed as living at the same address. Lucia worked as a milliner (someone one who makes or sells hats).

Anna lived at 1083 41st Street at least through 1915.

Anna Yates lived at this 1900 built house at 1083 41st St. for at least a decade. There are no historical markers acknowledging this (Photo: Google Maps).

By the 1920s Anna was living at 1075 47th Street in Emeryville. In 1930 she was living at 1079 47th Street.

By 1930 the Emeryville Grammar School had changed its name to Joaquin Miller.

The Marriage Bar

At the time, California school policy was that female teachers would remain single (a practice often referred to as “The Marriage Bar”). It was widely held at the time in education and clerical professions that married women should stay at home and rear children. Employing married women would come at the expense of a man trying to support his family (these policies persisted until the 1960s when they were identified as discriminatory).

All told, Yates taught at the Emeryville school for 34 years. She never married.


Yates died on February 1, 1931 in Albany at the age of 58.

Anna Yates Obituary
Clipping: Oakland Tribune Feb. 2, 1931 p. 35

The following obituary was published in the February 6th issue of the Emeryville Golden Gate Herald:

“The entire community are grieved to learn of the death of Miss Anna Yates, veteran teacher of the Joaquin Miller Elementary School. She had been a member of the school system for the past 36 years, many of the men and women of Emeryville having gone to school to her as well as their own children. Anna Yates was a woman of sterling character, and had the qualities which make an ideal teacher.

She was respected and loved by all she came in contact, and her pupils idolized her. It may be said of her that she was truly one of God’s women, a woman whose achievements, though not written on shafts of marble or tablets of bronze, are recorded in the greatest record of all, the heart of little children.

In honor of her memory the Board of Education of Emeryville ordered the schools of the city closed Wednesday afternoon, the day of this great teachers funeral.”

School renamed in her honor

A few years after her death, Joaquin Miller Elementary was changed to Anna Yates in honor of her service.

The name was retained when the new elementary school was built at 1070 41st street and when Emeryville K-12 schools were consolidated at the The Emeryville Center of Community Life in 2016.


Feature Image provided by EUSD.

The story was written in collaboration with The Emeryville Historical Society.

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

The Emeryville Historical Society

The EHS was founded in 1989 by a small group of local history buffs. Membership, which comes with a subscription to their quarterly printed journal and access to their vast archives, is available through their website.


  1. Rob; this is a beautiflly written and informative article about a woman who dedicated her life to the people of the area. Having lived here for 34 years I never knew why the school was named the Anna Yates school. This story has been very enlghtening. Thank you for taking the care and the time to inform the citizens of Emeryville of Ms. Yates and to acknowledge a local citizen that deserves acknowledgement.

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