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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, William (1809–17 June 1851), diarist and entrepreneur, was born in Natchez, Mississippi, the son of William Johnson, a slaveholder, and Amy Johnson, a slave. When William was five years old his mother was emancipated and established her household in Natchez. In 1820 the eleven-year-old William was freed by the Mississippi legislature at the request of his owner. Once emancipated, he apprenticed with his brother-in-law, James Miller, in his barber business in Natchez. Johnson became proprietor of the business—reportedly the most popular barber shop in Natchez—when Miller moved to New Orleans in 1830. Johnson and his African-American staff ran the shop, which served a predominantly white clientele. Johnson’s barbers not only offered haircuts and shaves, they also fitted wigs, sold fancy soaps and oils, and, beginning in 1834, operated a bathhouse at the Main Street location....

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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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Loudon, Samuel (1727?–24 February 1813), printer and entrepreneur, was born probably in Scotland. He emigrated to New York in or before 1753, when he established a general store opposite the Old Slip Market. During the next decade and a half, he expanded his business and personal interests. On 24 January 1756 he married Sarah Oakes. By 1757 he had enlarged his trade to sell nautical goods. By 1768 Sarah had died, and Loudon had married his second wife, Lydia Griswold. He had a total of eight children. In the late 1760s and early 1770s he speculated in upper New York land with ...

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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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Scherman, Harry (01 February 1887–12 November 1969), publisher, was born in Montreal, Canada, the son of Jacob Scherman, a laborer, and Katharine Harris, both of whom were Jewish. In 1889 the family moved to Philadelphia. In 1893 the father deserted his family and returned to his native England. Living in poverty in a boardinghouse with his hard-working mother, Scherman attended Central High School in Philadelphia, where fellow classmates included ...

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Schuster, Max Lincoln (02 March 1897–20 December 1970), publisher, was born Max Schuster in Kalusz, Austria, the son of Barnet Schuster and Minnie Stieglitz, both of whom were American citizens. The family returned to the United States when Max was seven weeks old. The Schusters lived in New York City and ran a stationery and cigar store in Harlem. They later moved to the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan, where Max attended public school. In high school he became so interested in ...

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Smith, Venture (1729?–19 September 1805), slave, entrepreneur, and autobiographer, also known as Broteer Venture, was born in Dukandarra, Guinea, the eldest child of Saungm Furro, a prince. His mother, whose name is unknown, was the first of his polygynist father’s three wives; she took five-year-old Broteer and her two younger children with her when she left her husband to protest his marrying the third wife without her consent. After traveling for five days over about 140 miles, she left Broteer with a farmer before returning to the country where she was born. This farmer treated Broteer like a son, employing him for a year as a shepherd, until the boy was sent for by his father. Returning to Dukandarra, Broteer found his mother and father reconciled....

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Stratemeyer, Edward (04 October 1862–10 May 1930), writer, creator of popular juvenile series, and founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the son of German immigrants Henry Julius Stratemeyer, a tobacconist, and Anna Siegal. The youngest of six children, Stratemeyer worked in his brother’s tobacco store after completing high school. Even as an adolescent, Stratemeyer experimented with writing and distributing stories; a 31-page pamphlet, “The Tale of a Lumberman (as Told by Himself),” from 1878 is the earliest example of his amateur printing efforts. Five years later he published an amateur—and short-lived—boy’s story paper, ...

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Walker, David (1796?–06 August 1830), used-clothing dealer and political writer, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, the son probably of a free black woman and possibly of a slave father. Almost nothing is known about either parent; only a little more is known about Walker’s years in the South. Walker was born in a town where by 1800 African Americans predominated demographically over whites by more than two to one. Their influence on the town and the region was profound. Most labor—skilled or unskilled—was performed by black slaves who were the foundation of the region’s key industries: naval stores production, lumbering, rice cultivation, building construction, and shipping. The Methodist church in Wilmington was largely the creation of the local black faithful. The skill and resourcefulness of the African Americans amid their enslavement deeply impressed Walker....

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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 ...