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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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Barron, Clarence Walker (02 July 1855–02 October 1928), financial journalist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Henry Barron, a teamster, and Elana Noyes. He was educated at the Prescott Grammar School in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and Boston’s English High School, where he distinguished himself by writing prize-winning essays on railways and civil service reform. Preparing for a journalism career, Barron supplemented his writing talents by teaching himself shorthand, an activity he later would call “the best training for young men in practical life” ( ...

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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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Bush, John Edward (15 November 1856–11 December 1916), businessman and politician, was born a slave in Moscow, Tennessee. In 1862 his master moved him and his mother to Arkansas to keep them from being freed when the Union army moved into western Tennessee. His mother died when Bush was only seven years old. He was educated in the freedmen’s and public schools of Little Rock and was considered a good student by his teachers. He paid his school tuition by molding bricks. In 1876 he graduated from high school with honors and was immediately appointed principal of Capital Hill School, a public institution for African Americans in Little Rock. In 1878 he moved to Hot Springs, where he was named to head that city’s African-American high school....

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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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Marshall Field III In military uniform during World War I. Photograph by Arnold Genthe. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93592).

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Field, Marshall, III (28 September 1893–08 November 1956), investor, newspaper publisher, and philanthropist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Marshall Field II and Albertine Huck. Being the grandson of the first Marshall Field, the Chicago multimillionaire merchant and real-estate developer, meant that Field would be heir to fabulous wealth—all the sooner when his father, unhappy and passive in his active father’s shadow, committed suicide in 1905 and then when his beloved grandfather died of pneumonia two months later. Field’s mother, who had lived in England with her husband and their children and who disliked Chicago, returned to England. The grandfather’s will provided well for Albertine and gave Field and his younger brother a $75 million trust together. Field attended Eton (1907–1912) and then Trinity College, Cambridge (1912–1914), studying mostly history and vacationing with the horsy set. He returned to the United States in 1914 and married Evelyn Marshall the following year; the couple had three children, including Marshall Field IV. He also studied high finance and played polo. In April 1917 he volunteered as a private, despite his earlier rheumatic fever, in the First Illinois Cavalry (quickly converted to artillery service). He was soon commissioned and promoted, saw action in France as a captain with the Thirty-third Division, and was decorated for gallantry at Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne....

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Ho, Chinn (26 February 1904–12 May 1987), financier, developer, and newspaper owner, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of Ho Ti Yuen, a clerk at the segregated British Pacific Club, and Kam Lan. In the “Chinn Ho Oral History Project” Ho said a sickly childhood delayed his elementary schooling and made him a “runt” who was “pushed around” when he did begin regular classes. In the meantime, having become an avid reader of the Pacific Club’s discarded business periodicals brought home by his father, Ho realized that he had to extend his boundaries and perform better than expected to gain recognition. Through sports he improved physically. He sold soft drinks, newspapers, school supplies, and advertising gimmicks. He was a 20-year-old senior at McKinley High School (class of 1924) when he motivated a small group of classmates to stage school events, including a carnival that paid off the $38 class debt for breaking windows. After graduating, they organized a social and business ...

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Lawson, James (09 November 1799–24 March 1880), editor, author, and insurance broker, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of James Lawson, a merchant. His mother’s identity is not known. Lawson entered the University of Glasgow at the age of thirteen but presumably did not graduate because he left Scotland in 1815. Settling in New York, he worked as an accountant in the firm of Alexander Thomson & Co., which was owned by and named for his maternal uncle. Lawson became a member of the firm in 1822 and remained there until 1826, when the company failed. This turned out to be a rather opportune event; Lawson had been sending submissions of his writing to his long-time friend James G. Brooks, one of the founders of the weekly ...

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Meloney, Marie Mattingly (8 Dec. 1878–23 June 1943), editor, journalist, and public relations pioneer, was born Marie Mattingly in Bardstown, Kentucky. She was the youngest daughter of Peter Cyprian Mattingly, a physician, and Sarah Irwin, a college graduate and editor of Kentucky Magazine...

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Eugene Meyer. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-105094).

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Meyer, Eugene Isaac (31 October 1875–17 July 1959), investment banker, government official, and newspaper publisher, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Marc Eugene Meyer, a retail merchant, and Harriet Newmark. After growing up in San Francisco, Meyer attended the University of California for one year in 1892. He was a mediocre student who spent much of his time drinking and gambling. After his freshman year, his family moved to New York City and he transferred to Yale. By working much harder academically at Yale, Meyer earned excellent grades and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After skipping his junior year, he graduated with an A.B. with honors in 1895, ranking nineteenth in a class of 250. Meyer then spent two years in Europe learning French and German and gaining work experience in banking and international finance. On returning to the United States, Meyer was employed by the international banking firm of Lazard Frères, where his father was a partner. However, because his duties there were menial compared with the work he had been doing in Europe, Meyer left the firm in 1901, much against his father’s wishes, to open his own investment firm....

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Mitchell, John, Jr. (11 July 1863–03 December 1929), newspaper editor and banker, was born near Richmond, Virginia, on the estate of James Lyons, where his parents, John Mitchell and Rebecca (maiden name unknown), were house slaves. After gaining their freedom, the Mitchells were employed by Lyons as servants in his mansion in the city, where their son performed various chores and became a keen observer of the rituals of polite society practiced there. Mitchell’s mother exerted the decisive influence on him during his formative years: she instilled in him a fierce sense of racial pride, instructed him in the ways of gentlemanly conduct, and insisted on his regular attendance at the First African Baptist Church, where he was baptized at the age of fourteen. Over the objections of her white employer, Rebecca Mitchell arranged for her son’s education, first in a private school and later in public schools. An intensely competitive student with considerable artistic ability, Mitchell regularly won medals for superior performance and graduated at the head of his class at the Richmond Normal and High School in 1881....

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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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Pittock, Henry Lewis (01 March 1836–28 January 1919), newspaper publisher and businessman, was born in London, England, the son of Frederick Pittock, a printer, and Susanna Bonner. In 1839 the family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Pittock’s father began a printing business. Henry, the third of eight children, attended public schools and began working at his father’s print shop when he was twelve years old. In early 1853, inspired by stories of adventure on the Oregon frontier, Pittock, then seventeen, and a brother, Robert, left home to join two other families to emigrate to the West....

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Roberts, Ellis Henry (30 September 1827–08 January 1918), editor, congressman, and financier, was born in Utica, New York, the son of Watkin Roberts, a factory worker, and Gwen Williams, immigrants from Wales. His father died in 1831, and consequently Roberts experienced a difficult childhood. He attended local schools. To support himself and earn money for more education, he learned the printer’s trade in the office of William Williams in Utica. Roberts did the usual work assigned to beginners and had mastered the trade and saved money by the time his brother Robert W. Roberts, under whom he continued to work, purchased the office. Roberts attended Whitestown Seminary for two terms in 1845 before enrolling in 1846 at Yale College, where he won a scholarship, took prizes for English composition, and edited the ...

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Smith, Samuel Harrison (1772–01 November 1845), journalist and banker, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jonathan Smith, a merchant, and Susannah Bayard. Smith’s father changed his legal name to Jonathan Bayard Smith after marriage. Smith was educated in Philadelphia schools and earned a B.A. (1787) and an M.A. (1790) from the University of Pennsylvania....