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Collection Spotlight: The papers of civil rights leader Dr. Dupuy Anderson

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World War II veteran, dentist, civil rights activist. Dr. Dupuy Anderson’s biography reads like that of many African American civil rights leaders of the mid-20th century. That common history, however, does not diminish his extraordinary contributions and accomplishments, and his papers, now available for research in Hill Memorial Library, provide an important resource for the study of that chapter of Baton Rouge and indeed American history.

Anderson graduated from McKinley High School, Baton Rouge’s earliest African American high school and anchor of the city’s black community for much of the 20th-century. He received a B.S. degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, and a D.D.S. from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. Anderson enlisted in 1941 and served with the U.S. Army Air Force, rising to the rank of major. He participated in the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, ran for mayor of Baton Rouge in 1960 (when African Americans did not run for such offices), and filed suit to desegregate the undergraduate division of Louisiana State University. As a result, his daughter Dr. Freya Anderson Rivers was one of six African-American undergraduates to integrate LSU in 1964. Dr. Anderson passed away in 1999.

The papers, which were donated by Dr. Rivers last year, date from 1935-1996 and include personal photographs, speeches and printed items from his run for mayor-president and correspondence, printed items, and other documents related to his community service, professional activities, and involvement in education and social issues and desegregation of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System and LSU. A full description of the collection is available online. Oral histories conducted with Anderson and Rivers in the 1990s under the auspices of the T. Harry William Center for Oral History are also housed in Hill Library.

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