July 24, 2021

James H. Anderson – Publisher, Editor & Founder of Amsterdam News

Once upon a time in Black Entrepreneur History lived a Black man named James H. Anderson who founded one of the largest newspapers for the Black community called Amsterdam News.

Career

James H. Anderson was born in Virginia on February 8, 1885 to parents who were both Virginians.

Not much is known of his childhood, but it was on December 4, 1909 that he formed the Amsterdam News from his own home. It was a handwritten newspaper that was only 6 pages long, and with an investment of $10, he sold that newspaper for only 2 cents[1] to patrons. He was only 24 years old. At that time, he was also working as as framer in Manhattan, New York[2].

At the age of 25, he married a New Yorker by the name of Edith Amelia Anderson, daughter of Samuel and Annie Livingston. They lived in a home they rented on 2400-7th Avenue, Apartment 71, New York, New York. From the marriage, they had two children Henry S. and Robert L.[3]

By the time he was 33 years old and registering for the World War I Draft on September 12, 1918[4], he already owned his own newspaper store on 79 West 135 Street, New York, New York. The newspaper grew as there was a mass movement of Black people to the North during this time in order to escape what was the South and its higher heights of discrimination and racism. Although the North still had discrimination, there was more hope and opportunities than in the South at that time.

Anderson’s Amsterdam News moved to various locations multiple times throughout its success until he sold it in 1926 to Sadie Warren, a publisher. It was then sold again to Dr. Cielan Powell and Dr. Phillip Savory, two Black entrepreneurs of the Powell Savory Corporation[4].

From there, Amsterdam News grew even bigger and reached more Black communities around the nation, becoming one of the largest and longest running Black news in America, now serving multi-racial communities, but still focusing on news of African Americans. Amsterdam News is still going strong in 2021.

Anderson’s 2nd Marriage

After the death of his first wife, James H. Anderson was widowed and working as a porter in a hotel, but it was in 1940 that he’d remarried to Floridian woman named Williett Anderson and working as a Messenger at the World Tea Garden, a club that hosted events for several noted figures and aristocrats[5].

Although he isn’t here to see the paper he started move to higher heights, Black America is grateful for those six pages he wrote by hand at the very beginning.


Sources

  • [1,4]Amsterdam News, http://amsterdamnews.com/about/
  • [2]Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1022; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 0539; FHL microfilm: 1375035
  • [3]Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 21, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1224; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 1434
  • [4]United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.
  • [5]United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.
  • Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 0890; FHL microfilm: 2341298