Charles Joseph Hatfield, Sr.

Charles J. Hatfield papers, 1872-2000 | Amistad Research Center

By Christopher Harter Printer-friendly | Contact Us About This Collection

Collection Overview

Title: Charles J. Hatfield papers, 1872-2000 Primary Creator: Hatfield, Charles J. (1915-2002)

Extent: 3.09 Linear Feet

Arrangement: The collection is arranged by format or topic and chronologically within.

Date Acquired: 09/01/1998 Subjects: American Federation of Teachers, College integration – Law and legislation – Louisiana, Dunn, Oscar J., 1826?-1871, Education – Louisiana, Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, La.), School integration – Louisiana – History, Teachers’ unions – United States, Tureaud, Alexander Pierre, 1899-1972 Forms of Material: Moving images Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The papers of educator, union organizer, and civil rights activist Charles J. Hatfield Jr. document his life and career, as well as aspects of his family history. The collection includes correspondence; photographs; family records; financial, school, and military records; newspaper clippings; video cassettes; and writings/speeches by Hatfield. Hatfield’s legal pursuits to integrate the Louisiana State University Law School, as well as his later teaching career, are documented within the collection.

The collection includes records pertaining to Hatfield’s parents, Charles Sr. and Mary Hatfield, and maternal parents, Richard and Ann Douse. Tax records (1872) and a Masonic resolution (1879), as well as photocopies of Civil War muster rolls, for Richard Douse are present, as are materials related to the death of Ann Douse in 1917. Records regarding Hatfield’s parents include a 1911 warranty deed between Titan D. and Aladia D. Duplantier of Cicero, Illinois, and Charles Sr. for land in Lakeview, Oregon, as well as an 1898 school certificate for Mary Douse (Hatfield) from the Sisters of the Holy Family Academy in New Orleans. Two pages from a family Bible recording births and deaths in the family are also present.

The majority of the correspondence in the collection regards Hatfield’s teaching career and is comprised of letters to and from various New Orleans school administrators, members of the Orleans Parish School Board, and Louisiana state education officials. Another group of letters reflects Hatfield’s efforts toward the publication of his book “Civilization over the Horizon,” and includes letters to a various publishing houses and editors. Correspondents include: Edward Adams, B. K. Agnihotri, M. J. Becnel, Doris L. Cade, Bill Clinton, M.D. Coghill, Thomas J. Cole Jr., U.S. Representative John Conyers Jr., Helen J. Cumbo, James E. Dean Jr., James DeLee, Freda DePolitte, Annabelle Dutton, Edwin W. Edwards, Phillys S. Foner, James Gill, William Gill, Al Gore, W. E. Groves, N.B. Hackett, James. P. Hadley Jr., George W. Healy Jr., Alfred B. Hebeisen, J.J. Hedgemon, Thomas Hoover, Mort. M. Horowitz, J. Harvey Korns, Glenn Labbe, Willie Le Beau, B. Leiter, Anna Judge Veters Levy, Martin Littlefield, John F. Monie, Arthur Morell, Revius Ortique, Sidney J. Parfait, William C. Petersen, John D. Reid, David Selden, M. U. Sheldon, Lamar Smith, Leon R. Tarver II, G. H. Taylor, Henry Williams, and Evelyn L. Wilson.

Photographs include one of Hatfield and one taken during a Xavier University reunion in 1971. Personal records include Hatfield’s school, military, and financial records. Materials related to Hatfield’s efforts to enter the law school at Louisiana State University include photocopies

of legal records related to his lawsuit, as well as newspaper clippings and correspondence from a scrapbook. The latter includes a January 25, 1945, letter from Hatfield to the LSU registrar and an agreement signed by Hatfield engaging the services of A.P. Tureaud and Joseph A. Thornton as his attorneys. Additional materials relate to Hatfield’s work with the American Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana AFL-CIO, as well as Xavier University reunion materials and the Southern University Law Center.

A typescript of Hatfield’s book “Civilization over the Horizon” is present. The book, which does not seem to have been published, dealt with the topic of society and societal institutions. Collected newspaper clippings cover a variety of civil rights and discrimination issues, as well as the lives of Hatfield, Oscar J. Dunn, and Thurgood Marshall. A 1950 political circular by Malcom Lefargue on the topic of Russell Long’s views on African American voter registration is present. Public relations videos on Southern University Law Center, as well as an interview of Hatfield by Al Kennedy, complete the collection.

Biographical Note

Charles J. Hatfield Jr. was an educator and civil rights activist in Louisiana. Hatfield’s efforts to enroll in Louisiana State University’s law school in 1946 led to a lawsuit attempting to integrate the school. Although ultimately unsuccessful, Hatfield’s efforts are viewed as one of the most important anti-discrimination lawsuits in Louisiana during the Civil Rights Movement. His work in the area of union organizing during his teaching career also reflected his activism.

Charles J. Hatfield Jr. was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on May 27, 1915. He was one of six children born to Charles and Mary Elizabeth (nee Douse) Hatfield, who moved to New Orleans shortly after the birth of Charles Jr. Charles Sr. was a chef and Mary taught school. Hatfield’s maternal grandparents were Richard and Ann Maria (nee Purnell) Douse. Richard Douse was a free person of color and plasterer, who served with the Louisiana Native Guards, 2nd Regiment, during the

Civil War; Ann was born a free person of color (her mother had been manumitted by Thomas R. Purnell in 1827 and, although not legally married, the couple had eight children), who also taught school.

Charles Jr. attended school intermittently and graduated from Gilbert Academy in June 1938. He then enrolled at Xavier University in New Orleans and graduated with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1946 following his service in the United States Army. While in college, Hatfield married Beulah G. Ozenne in 1942. The couple had three children: Charles, Andrea, and Elliott. Hatfield worked with the postal service (where he had found employment during college) following his graduation from Xavier.

During his last semester at Xavier, Hatfield wrote to Louisiana State University and A&M College for an application to law school. Hatfield was notified by LSU officials that the university did not admit African Americans and that the state of Louisiana had authorized Southern University to establish a department of law. In February 1946, Hatfield engaged the services of A.P. Tureaud and Joseph A. Thornton to pursue litigation against LSU. Tureaud was assisted by NAACP attorneys Thurgood Marshall, Robert Carter, and Louis Berry, and the suit was filed October 1946. The lawsuit was dismissed in April 1947.

Due to threats on his life and concern for his family, Hatfield accepted an offer of a teaching fellowship at Atlanta University. He wrote his Masters thesis on the Lafitte Housing Project in New Orleans and received his M.A. in Sociology in 1948. Following graduation, Hatfield experienced problems finding employment due to his previous lawsuit. Ultimately, he returned to the post office and taught classes at Gilbert Academy. Hatfield continued his studies, receiving B.A. and M.A. degrees in Education from Xavier University. He also took courses at Southern University, New Orleans University, and UCLA; the latter based on a grant from the American Federation of Teachers.

After some difficulty, Hatfield received his teaching certificate in 1952. Hatfield then taught at Joseph S. Clark and George Washington Carver

high schools in New Orleans until his retirement in 1979. During his teaching career, Hatfield was active in union organization and continued his community activism throughout his life. He received the first Honorary Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the Southern University Law Center one month prior to his death in 2002.

Subject/Index Terms American Federation of Teachers College integration – Law and legislation – Louisiana Dunn, Oscar J., 1826?-1871 Education – Louisiana Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, La.) School integration – Louisiana – History Teachers’ unions – United States Tureaud, Alexander Pierre, 1899-1972

Administrative Information

Repository: Amistad Research Center

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Acquisition Source: Charles J. Hatfield

Acquisition Method: Gift

Appraisal Information: The papers of educator, union organizer, and civil rights activist Charles J. Hatfield Jr. document his life and career, as well as aspects of his family history.

Separated Materials:

Hatfield, Charles J. “Social Mobility and Public Housing: A Study of 60 Low Income Families in the Lafitte Housing Project – New Orleans, Louisiana, 1946-1947.” Thesis [M.A.]–Atlanta University, 1948.

Annual Report of the Auditor of Public Accounts, to the Legislature of the State of Louisiana, January 1860. Baton Rouge, LA: J.M. Taylor, state printer, 1860.

Related Materials: A.P. Tureaud papers; Daniel E. Byrd papers

Related Publications:

Wilson, Evelyn L. Laws, Customs, and Rights: Charles Hatfield and His Family, A Louisiana History. Westminster, MD: Heritage Books, 2004.

Labbe, Glenn. “Charles J. Hatfield: A Plaintiff’s Story.” The Public Defender (March/April 1993): 5.

Preferred Citation: Charles J. Hatfield papers, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

Processing Information: Processed by Colin Kemper, March-April 2010

In Memoriam