Edward Dugger (1894-1939) served as a first lieutenant and commanding officer in the African American unit, 372nd Infantry, during the 1920s and 1930s. The 372nd Infantry Regiment was a troop that was part of the 93rd Infantry Division (Colored) which served with the French Army during World War I. He retired in 1936 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with the Massachusetts National Guard and passed away in 1939.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research. Access to collection materials requires an appointment.
Scope and Contents
The Papers of Lieutenant Colonel Edward Dugger is comprised of military and personal records, photographs, postcards, correspondence, financial records, military orders and memorandums, promotional certificates, personal notes, academic notebooks, invitations and programs of military events, newspaper clippings, and African American military service research materials and books collected during and after his time in the Massachusetts National Guard.
Biographical / Historical
Edward Dugger was born June 6, 1894 in Finchley, Virginia. His father, William Henry Dugger was born a slave in 1845 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia but lived as a free man by 1870. His mother, Mary Jane Hepburn, was born in 1855. As the last of 8 children, Edward's family moved to Natick, Massachusetts, and again to Boston, MA, where he attended Boston English High School. After graduating in 1914, he enlisted in the United States Army which was resistant to welcoming African American soldiers. However, when President Woodrow Wilson declared war against Germany in April 1917, he created two all black units, the 92nd and 93rd Division (Colored), and sent the newly enlisted African American solder's to training camp. Dugger was invited to the first officer's training camp and graduated with the rank of first lieutenant by the fall of 1917. Before his first deployment, he married Madeline Mabray Kountze in June 1918. Kountze was a teacher who later studied law, became recognized for fighting against job discrimination, her extensive volunteer work, and her role as the former vice president of the local chapter of the NAACP.
Dugger saw action in St. Dié-des-Vosges, Marbache Sector, and Meuse-Argonne in the closing months of the war and won distinction for bravery before returning home in March 1919. After returning from the war, he became Captain of Company K of the 372nd Infantry. By 1930, he became the Commanding Officer of Company L of the 6th Massachusetts Infantry. In 1936, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and retired from the military.
He served on the Boston Police Force for 4 years and then joined the United States Postal Service in 1923, working until his retirement in 1938. Aside from his military and work experience, Dugger served as President of the Men's Community Club, which established the first Community Center, chaired the Citizen's Committee that brought the Boy Scout Troup #11 to West Medford in 1938, and became the first black member of the City Planning Board. Unfortunately, he had been sick for many years with polycystic kidney disease in addition to the mustard gas exposure from the war. On March 5th, 1939 at age 44 in the United States Naval Hospital in Chelsea, MA. He was survived by his wife and 6 children: Edward Jr. (1919). Barbara Anne (1921), Madeleine (1922), Portia Alma (1924), Cortland Otis (1926), and Ione (1931). Due to his contributions and dedication to the military and his community, on September 10th, 1939, the city of Medford honored him by naming a public park "Duggar Park". His daughter, Dr. Ione Vargus, gifted this collection to the Smithsonian Institute in memory of her father.
Timeline: June 6, 1894: Edward Dugger born; 1916: Enlisted in Army; April 1917: President Wilson declared war against Germany; October 12, 1917: Officer's Training Camp and First deployment as 1st Lieutenant; June 1918: Married and shipped overseas ; March 1919: Honorably Discharged and Returned home; 1919- 1923: Boston Police Department; 1919: Joined National Guard as Captain; 1923- 1938: Joined the United States Postal Service; December 1930: Promoted to Commanding Officer of Company K of the 6th Massachusetts Infantry; 1936: Military Retirement; 1936: Appointed the first black member of the Medford City Planning Board; March 5, 1939: Died at U.S. Naval Hospital; September 10, 1939: Dugger Field Dedication