C. Elmer Anderson Oral History
C. Elmer Anderson was born on March 16, 1912, in Brainerd, Minn. He was the seventh of nine children born to Swedish immigrants. He married Lillian Otterstad in 1937 and the couple had three children.
Before entering politics, Anderson owned a newspaper and magazine distribution company. Anderson, a Republican, was elected Minnesota lieutenant governor in 1938 at age 26 and served from 1938 to 1942 and from 1944 to 1951. When Minnesota Governor Luther Youngdahl was appointed a federal judge in 1951, Anderson became governor. He was elected governor in 1952, defeating Orville Freeman, a Democrat. In the 1954 election, he was defeated by Freeman. In 1956, Anderson ran for Minnesota Secretary of State and lost in his last bid for statewide office. He would later serve as mayor of Nisswa, Minnesota from 1961 to 1965 and nearby Brainerd from 1975 to 1986. Freeman died on January 22, 1998, in Brainerd.
In an oral history from on April 5, 1978, Anderson discussed why and how he entered politics. He recounted his election as lieutenant governor at age 26 in 1938, his election as governor and campaigning at the dawn of the television age. He touched about many statewide elections, including his time serving under Minnesota Governor Gov. Harold Stassen, another rising young Republican. Anderson discussed when Stassen, in 1942, backed Edward Thye and Anderson lost his seat and his return as lieutenant governor in 1944 when Thye was governor. Anderson discussed when Minnesota Governor Luther Youngdahl resigned to become a federal judge in fall 1951, then becoming governor. Anderson won election in 1952 by defeating Orville Freeman and served one two-year term before losing to Freeman in 1954. After his service in statewide office, Anderson was elected mayor of Nisswa and Brainerd. Anderson talked about how government had become more complicated with increasing federal involvement. In addition, Anderson recounted how Brainerd grew and what attracted new residents to the area. During his tenure as Brainerd mayor, Anderson tackled the controversial issues of fluoride in drinking water and a nudity ban.
St. Cloud State University, "C. Elmer Anderson Oral History" (1978). Minnesota Legislators and Politics Oral Histories. 2.