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Pattie P. Peterson Papers offer a glimpse into Civil Rights Era Louisiana

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We are pleased to announce that the Pattie P. Peterson Papers are now open and available for use by researchers. Pattie P. Peterson was a Baton Rouge civil rights advocate during a time of great social unrest in the country. She served as the secretary to the biracial Commission on Human Relations, Rights, and Responsibilities. Louisiana Governor John McKeithen created the commission in an effort to reduce racial tension within the state. Because of her contacts in the African American community and position on the commission, Peterson was able to exchange ideas and share information with local black leaders.

Letter tells of the attack on a local news journalist during a violent demonstration in Baton Rouge, January 25, 1972

The collection consists of correspondence and photocopies of newspaper clippings collected by Pattie Peterson. In her letters, Peterson shares her views on race relations, employment, and integration of the public schools in Baton Rouge, as well as public demonstrations and racial violence. She writes about the needs of the local black community, and the importance of open communication between blacks and government officials. She recounts her reaction to the news of a violent demonstration in Baton Rouge, in which a reporter, Bob Johnson, was severely beaten and five people were killed (Jan. 25, 1972). Newspapers clippings include topics similar to those found in her letters, and provide a context for the events that Peterson discussed in her letters. This collection offers a contemporary look at events that took place in Louisiana and the nation during a time of change, and the backlash and open hostility from those who resisted change.

Visitors to the Hill Memorial Library reading room can see a display of the Pattie P. Peterson Papers. For more details about the collection, you may view the finding aid here.

Jennifer Mitchell is the Head of Archival Processing in the Special Collections department of the LSU Libraries.

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