Anderson received a bachelor's degree with honors from Stanford University in 1968, and received a master's degree in architecture from Princeton University in 1972. He served a mission for the LDS Church to Japan and married Lavina Fielding in 1977. Together they had one son, Christian.
Anderson was awarded a fellowship by the Church's Historical Department in 1973 to study Mormon architecture and history. With this fellowship, he restored historic LDS buildings and assisted in the formation of the Museum of Church History and Arts. He was also a part of the Church's Nauvoo Restoration project, including the restoration of Carthage Jail, the Manti Temple, and the historic Newel K. Whitney Store. He served as president of the Mormon History Association in 2007 and 2008, and was awarded a special citation from the organization for his contributions.