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  • Collection ID ARCHIVES 2007/06
  • Creator Names Abbott, Robert S. (Robert Sengstacke), 1868-1940.
  • Title Papers, 1847-1997.
  • Physical description 179 linear feet (251 archival boxes)
  • Collection summary Robert S. Abbott founded the Chicago Defender in 1905; his nephew, John H. Sengstacke, took over family's newspapers on Abbott's death in 1940. The papers trace the Abbott-Sengstacke family history from the mid-19th century in Georgia through Abbott's move to Chicago and creation of a journalistic empire, to the death of Sengstacke in 1997. The papers are arranged in three superseries: Robert Abbott, John Sengstacke, and Myrtle Sengstacke. Extensive documentation of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the Chicago Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier, the Michigan Chronicle, Provident Hospital, and the political history of Chicago is included. The papers feature correspondence, manuscripts, organizational and subject research files, biographical materials, programs, clippings and memorabilia. A large collection of photographs will be opened in late 2009.
  • Biographical or Historical Note Robert Sengstacke Abbott (1868-1940) was born in Frederica, St. Simon's Island, Georgia to former slaves. After his father's death in 1869 his mother Flora moved to Savannah, Georgia and married John H.H. Sengstacke. In 1889, Robert enrolled in Hampton Institute's printing trade program and later earned a bachelor's degree. Frustrated by racial discrimination he moved to Chicago and founded the Chicago Defender in 1905. He used his paper to speak out against racial injustice and support equal opportunities for African Americans. The paper's success made Abbott a millionaire. In 1939 he ceded control of the paper to his nephew John Sengstacke. John embarked on a mission to expand the paper, building the largest black-owned newspaper chain in American history. At the peak of his career, Sengstacke controlled three major communications enterprises: Robert S. Abbott Publishing Company, Sengstacke Enterprises, and the Amalgamated Publishers. One of Sengstacke's greatest accomplishments was the creation of the Negro Newspaper Publishers Association, later renamed the National Newspaper Publishers Association. He founded or served on the boards of numerous organizations. Sengstacke married Myrtle Picou in 1939.
  • Acquisition information Robert A. Sengstacke inherited the papers of Robert Sengstacke and John Sengstacke in 1997. He inheritated the papers of Myrtle Sengstacke separately after her death in 1990. In 2007 he donated the family papers to the Chicago Public Library.
  • Names
    • Abbott family Archives.
    • Sengstacke family Archives.
    • Sengstacke, John Herman Henry, 1912-1997 Archives.
    • Abbott, Robert S. (Robert Sengstacke), 1868-1940 Archives.
    • Amalgamated Publishers, Inc. Sources.
    • Provident Hospital (Chicago, Ill.) Sources.
    • National Newspaper Publishers Association (U.S.) History.
    • Sengstacke, John Herman Henry, 1912-1997.
    • Sengstacke, Myrtle.
  • Uniform Title
    • Chicago defender (Chicago, Ill. : 1909) Sources.
    • Daily defender Sources.
    • Chicago daily defender (Chicago, Ill. : Daily) Sources.
    • Chicago defender (Chicago, Ill. : Weekly) Sources.
    • Michigan chronicle Sources.
    • Pittsburgh courier Sources.
    • Tri-State defender Sources.
  • Subjects
    • African Americans Illinois Chicago Newspapers Sources.
    • African Americans Illinois Chicago Sources.
    • African Americans Civil rights History 20th century Sources.
  • Finding aid URL Finding aid http://www.chipublib.org/fa-abbott-sengstacke-family-papers/