Lloyd Lionel Gaines applied to the University of Missouri School of Law in 1936. In spite of an outstanding scholastic record, Gaines was denied admission based solely on the grounds that Missouri's Constitution called for "separate education of the races." By state law, Missouri would have been required to pay for Gaines to attend the universities in Iowa, Kansas or Nebraska, but Gaines was determined to fight for the right to attend law school in his own state. He sought legal assistance from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which had been working systematically to overturn the ignominious precedent of "separate but equal" established in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. Together, they challenged the University of Missouri’s admissions policies. In 1938, Gaines won his case before the United States Supreme Court in State of Missouri ex rel Gaines v. Canada, paving the way for a series of cases that would lead to the decision in Brown v. Board of Education that outlawed segregation in public education. In March 1939, only three months after his Supreme Court victory, Lloyd Gaines was last seen in Chicago, IL. He disappeared at age 28 with his promise of attending law school in Missouri unfulfilled. Lloyd Gaines was never to be seen or heard from again. This project seeks to illuminate Lloyd Gaines' life, document his pioneering pursuit of true equal rights to a legal education, and memorialize the long overdue, posthumous recognition of his personal sacrifice in the advancement of civil rights. By gathering together these primary and secondary source materials pertinent to his life and his case, we hope to tell more of Lloyd Gaines' story to the world. The University of Missouri School of Law Library is pleased to make these resources freely available for scholars, researchers and others to advance their knowledge and understanding of the struggle for civil rights in Missouri in the early twentieth century. The digital collection includes: o The last letter Lloyd Gaines wrote to his mother before his disappearance o Family photographs and correspondence o The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Gaines case o Gaines’ honorary law degree and admission to the Missouri Bar Association. For questions or suggestions about this project, contact us at (573) 884-6362 or by email at mulawlloydgaines@missouri.edu


Browse the Lloyd L. Gaines Digital Collection:

Books Related to Race and Education in Missouri

Case Materials

Gaines Family Correspondence

Mizzou Law Black Law Students Association Commemorative Video: Lloyd L. Gaines