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Annenberg, Moses Louis (11 February 1878–20 July 1942), publisher and race wire operator, called by contemporaries "Moe", publisher and race wire operator, called by contemporaries “Moe,” was born in Kalwichen, East Prussia, the son of Tobias Annenberg, a storekeeper, and Sarah Greenberg, who were Orthodox Jews. In 1882 Tobias Annenberg moved to the United States, opening a store in “the Patch,” a tough neighborhood and breeding ground for criminals in Chicago. He saved enough money to send for his wife and children in 1885....

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Barnett, Claude Albert (16 September 1889–02 August 1967), entrepreneur and journalist, was born in Sanford, Florida, the son of William Barnett, a hotel worker, and Celena Anderson. Although his parents separated when he was young, Barnett came from a proud black family, especially on his mother’s side. He attended elementary school in Chicago and in Mattoon and Oak Park, Illinois, where he frequently lived with his mother’s family. He went to Oak Park High School near Chicago and worked as a houseboy for ...

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Blackwell, Henry Browne (04 May 1825–07 September 1909), social reformer, editor, and entrepreneur, was born in Bristol, England, the son of Samuel Blackwell, a sugar refiner and antislavery reformer, and Hannah Lane. After business reversals the family moved in 1832 to New York, where their household became a haven for abolitionists, women’s rights advocates, and self-emancipated slaves. In 1838 the debt-ridden Blackwells moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. When his father died a few months later, thirteen-year-old Henry went to work to support the family, initially as a clerk in a flour mill. In 1845 he joined the two illiterate millers as a partner, and two years later his brother made him a partner in a hardware firm. Within a few years the enterprising Henry (“Harry” to his friends) had his finger in many economic pies—among them an agricultural publishing firm, land speculation, and sugar beet production (perhaps after his father, who had sought an alternative to slave-based sugar cane). At the same time Harry moved to the forefront of women’s rights agitation and abolitionism....

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Cooper, Kent (22 March 1880–31 January 1965), journalist, was born in Columbus, Indiana, the son of George William Cooper, a lawyer who served as mayor of Columbus and as a U.S. congressman, and Sina Green. Starting as a delivery boy, Cooper worked for Columbus newspapers from the time he was eleven until he entered Indiana University in 1898. In 1899, when his father died and he had to withdraw from college, he returned to reporting, first at the ...

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Dana, William Buck (26 August 1829–10 October 1910), publisher and entrepreneur, was born in Utica, New York, the son of James Dana, a hardware merchant, and Harriet Dwight. He was born into the local mercantile elite and into a family profoundly affected by contemporary religious revivals. Prior to graduating from Yale in 1851, Dana won election to Skull and Bones, and in his senior autograph book, a classmate prophetically praised his financial ability. Returning to Utica, he studied law with his father’s counsel for a year and practiced successively with brother-in-law J. Wyman Jones and future brother-in-law N. Curtis White. Dana’s dependence on class, kin, and friendship ties characterized his entire career. He prospered at law, learning management and, from clients, much about business. He also evidenced Utica’s entrepreneurial spirit, becoming partner to a brother in an agricultural and seed warehouse and investing in the latter’s screw company....

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Malcolm Stevenson Forbes. Platinum print, 1985, by Thomas John Shillea. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust.

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Forbes, Malcolm Stevenson (19 August 1919–24 February 1990), publisher, was born in New York City, the son of Bertie Charles Forbes, a newspaper columnist and and Adelaide Stevenson. Reared in a comfortable, upper-middle-class home in Englewood, New Jersey, Forbes attended private schools in Tarrytown, New York, and Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He graduated from Princeton University with a major in political science in 1941, and with the support of his father, the founder of ...

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Johnson, John H. (19 Jan. 1918–8 Aug. 2005), businessman, magazine and book publisher, was born Johnny Johnson, the grandson of slaves and the only child of Leroy Johnson and Gertrude Jenkins Johnson in Arkansas City, Arkansas. His father was a sawmill worker who died in a work accident. His mother cleaned houses and worked as a cook, saving enough money for them to eventually move to Chicago since Arkansas City did not have a high school for blacks....

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Koenigsberg, Moses (16 April 1878–21 September 1945), journalist, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Harris Wolf Koenigsberg, a tailor and businessman, and Julia Foreman. Both parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland. Precocious and big for a child, Koenigsberg moved swiftly into the adult world. At age twelve he was unjustly accused of plagiarism and punished, causing him to leave school. Afterward he briefly attached himself to a revolutionary army in Mexico, clerked in a law firm, and became a reporter on the ...

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Munsey, Frank Andrew (21 August 1854–22 December 1925), author and publisher, was born near Mercer, Maine, the son of Andrew Chauncey Munsey, a carpenter and farmer, and Mary Jane Merritt Hopkins. Aside from a few months enrolled at Poughkeepsie Business College in 1881, Munsey gained his business education through experience. As a boy, working at a grocery in Lisbon Falls, Maine, he taught himself telegraphy, eventually leaving to become a telegraph operator at several hotels in New England. His proficiency led to his appointment as manager of the Western Union office in the state capital, Augusta....

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Osborn, Chase Salmon (22 January 1860–11 April 1949), governor of Michigan, journalist, and entrepreneur, was born in Huntington County, Indiana, the son of George Augustus Osborn and Margaret Ann Fannon, hydropathic physicians. Osborn was named by his abolitionist-oriented parents after Ohio’s then-U.S. senator and soon-to-be ...

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P. B. S. Pinchback. Courtesy of the National Afro-American Museum.

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Pinchback, P. B. S. (10 May 1837–21 December 1921), politician, editor, and entrepreneur, was born Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback in Macon, Georgia, the son of William Pinchback, a Mississippi plantation owner, and Eliza Stewart, a former slave of mixed ancestry. Because William Pinchback had taken Eliza to Philadelphia to obtain her emancipation, Pinckney was free upon birth....

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Swope, Herbert Bayard (05 January 1882–20 June 1958), journalist and public relations consultant, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Isaac Swope, a watchcase manufacturer, and Ida Cohn. He graduated from Central High School in St. Louis in 1898 and briefly attended lectures at the University of Berlin the following year. His father’s death in 1899 made it necessary for Swope to work....

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Walker, John Brisben (10 September 1847–07 July 1931), entrepreneur and publisher, was born in a country home on the Monongahela River not far from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of John Walker and Anna Krepps. He was sent away to school at Gonzaga College in Washington, D.C., and in 1863 he entered Georgetown University in Washington. After two years, Walker received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy and remained at West Point until 1868. He resigned to accompany ...