Forbes, B. C. (Bertie Charles), 1880-1954

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1880-05-14
Death 1954-05-06

Biographical notes:

Bertie Charles Forbes (1880-1954) was an American journalist and the founder and editor of Forbes magazine. He was born May 14, 1880 in New Deer, Aberdeenshire, Scotland to Robert and Agnes (Moir) Forbes. At the age of thirteen he taught himself shorthand and at fourteen began work as a printer's devil. In 1897 he began his journalistic career as a reporter for the Dundee Courier and during the next two years he progressed to sub-editor and editorial writer. At the same time he attended night school at University College in Dundee.

In 1901 Forbes left Scotland for South Africa, and he worked there as a reporter for various papers, including the Rand Daily Mail, which he also helped to establish. Three years later, he went to New York, where he found a position on the Journal of Commerce . By 1906 he was financial editor of that paper, as well as an editorial contributor to the Commercial and Financial Chronicle . He retained these positions until 1911 when he left to become the business and financial editor of the New York American . In 1916 he resigned that position in order to start his own business and financial magazine, Forbes, though he continued to write a syndicated column for the Hearst papers until 1942. The magazine was a success, reaching a circulation of 100,000 in the 1940s. It contained analyses of business trends and the economic situation of the country, as well as Forbes' personal style of business journalism. He pioneered the writing of personal profiles of business leaders and it was this for which he was most well-known.

In 1940-1941 Forbes served on the school board of Englewood, New Jersey, where he lived, creating controversy with charges that the social science textbooks used in the schools and one of the teachers were subversive. Beginning in 1942, he devoted his time to organizing Investor's League Inc., which protected and promoted the interests of stockholders and insurance policy-holders. He served as president of the group until 1949 and held the chairmanship of the board from 1949 until 1950, at which time he retired, after having attempted to resolve certain internal problems that had developed. During this period he began to withdraw from an active role in the publication of his magazine, turning over responsibility instead to his sons, Malcolm and Bruce.

Forbes married Adelaide Stevenson on April 20, 1915 and they had five sons: Bruce C., Malcolm S., Gordon B., Wallace F., and Duncan, who, as a young man, was killed in an automobile accident. Forbes died on May 6, 1954.

From the guide to the Bertie Charles Forbes Papers, 1892-1964, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

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Subjects:

  • Émigré

Occupations:

  • Editors

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