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Ada Collins and Marcellus J. "Andy" Anderson papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.00513

Scope and Contents

Business and organizational records, correspondence, program information, financial records, leaflets, brochures, speech drafts, news clippings, photographs, video and audio tapes (1924-2001 [bulk 1955-1995]) document the lives and interests of Ada and Marcellus Anderson in relation to their real estate enterprise, Ada’s work with the Austin Lyric Opera and Leadership Enrichment Arts Program, and the activities of both Andersons in Masonic organizations, political and civil rights campaigns. The papers of Ada Anderson include biographical and genealogical records, a range of materials documenting the arts programs and events she sponsored, and records of the Mount Olive Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. The papers of Marcellus Anderson bulk with records of the Saint Joseph Grand Lodge of Austin, Texas, and materials related to Masonic conventions and gatherings held in various parts of the world. The papers of both Andersons include materials related to civil rights activities and African-American professional organizations in Texas, as well as campaign events for Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Jesse Jackson and local politicians.

Note: Materials related to this collection can be found in the Ada Anderson Oral History collection, also at the Center for American History.


  • Creation: 1923 - 2003


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.

Biographical Note

Ada Collins Anderson was born Ada Collins in Tarrant County, Texas, in 1921. She attended Anderson High School in Austin and received her bachelor’s degree in home economics from Tillotson College in 1941. In 1943, she met Marcellus J. (“Andy”) Anderson, a graduate of Ohio State University who was then teaching at Samuel Huston College in Austin. They married, and she lived with him at his army posting in New Jersey during the Second World War. After the war they returned to Austin, where Marcellus Anderson was admitted to the Austin Board of Realtors and became the first African-American realtor in the United States. In 1953 he founded Anderson Wormley Real Estate, assisted by Ada who later became a full partner. They had two children.

In 1953, Ada Anderson helped found the Austin chapter of Jack and Jill of America, a social and recreational civic organization for youth, in which she held administrative posts for many years. Seeking a graduate degree, she was the first African American to enroll in the University of Texas Graduate School of Library Science. She completed the program but could not secure the field experience requirement due to the segregationist restrictions of the time, nor was she allowed to enter the Texas State Library. In 1962, outraged at the race restrictions of the local ice skating rink that her children could not attend, Ada organized a boycott that gained wide media coverage when someone shot at the protesters from a passing car. The skating rink went bankrupt, and Ada used what she had learned from this experience to form a coalition of pastors, university professors, and others that became the genesis of the Austin Human Relations Commission. During the 1960s, this commission worked to change city regulations and open Austin hotels, schools, and businesses to all people.

In 1965 Anderson received a graduate degree in educational psychology from the University of Texas. She worked as a teacher and psychometrist in Austin, assisted the Austin Community College Board and the University of Texas, and served on the board of the Laguna Gloria Art Museum for 15 years. She was a founding member of the Austin Lyric Opera, and in 1989 initiated the creation of the Leadership Enrichment Arts Program to offer low-income and minority youth a chance to experience the performing and visual arts. Both Ada and Marcellus Anderson held leadership roles in Masonic and fraternal organizations such as the Order of the Eastern Star and Federation of Masons of the World. Ada Anderson received numerous civic awards and testimonials, including election to the Texas Black Women’s Hall of Fame, the leadership award from the Austin Chamber of Commerce Business Committee on the Arts, and a commemorative resolution adopted by the Texas House of Representatives in 2005.


26.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Business and organizational records, correspondence, program information, financial records, video and audio tapes (1923-2003 [bulk 1955-1995]) concerning civil rights, arts education, Freemasonry, political activities.

Accession Number(s)

1999-172; 1999-174; 2001-092; 2001-236; 2014-227

Ada Collins and Marcellus J. "Andy" Anderson papers, 1923-2003
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Repository Details

Part of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History Repository

2300 Red River Street
Austin TX 78712