News Leader Newspaper Archives

A look at the News Leader newspaper archives on microfilm by Anne Lemmon.

The News Leader, a weekly newspaper, began publication in 1952 in Baton Rouge, LA. In 1971 the name was changed to the Baton Rouge News Leader and its publication continued until 1977 when it was superseded by the Baton Rouge Community Leader. The News Leader reported on social, religious, sports and business news in the black community. Photographs of people featured in various social or religious events as well as sporting events were included throughout the paper. National news and issues of the day were covered in passing but were not the central focus of the articles.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library has copies of the News Leader on 10 reels of microfilm covering January 7, 1968, Volume 17, No. 1, through December 30, 1973, Vol. 22, No. 52. Each weekly issue consisted of 32 pages and sold for $.15 a copy. The paper’s format included 16 pages dedicated to news, features, and sports and 16 pages for the News Leader Special Feature Section (8 pages of features–similar to the Parade Magazine of today, and 8 pages of syndicated Sunday comics).

The microfilm records of the News Leader are a good source for obituary information for Baton Rouge citizens of the black community. There was a weekly column called “Deaths” that gave death dates and funeral information. This column and the “In Memoriam” column provided information about the deceased, date of death and often the names of relatives or next of kin.

Several columns were featured on a regular basis including Dorie’s Diary by Doris Gale which covered personal topics such as visiting relatives, vacation travel; get well wishes, and social club meetings. Gale also served as the long time editor of the paper from 1957 to 1977.  The Teen Corner highlighted teen achievements in school and church. Church and religious choir events and other programs were covered on a regular basis as were local school events. Pictures covering these events were almost always included. Wedding and engagement pictures were in every issue as well as debutante events. The Men in Service column featured black servicemen state wide.

The sports section highlighted school events. Southern University and their opponents (Alcorn Braves, Xavier University, Grambling State, and Florida A&M) were often reviewed in articles. High schools teams such as McKinley High Panthers, Scotlandville Hornets and Capitol High Lions were some of the local teams mentioned.

The microfilm copies of this newspaper can be reviewed at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, Main Branch, 225-231-3750, located at 7711 Government Blvd., Baton Rouge, La 70806.

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