Abbott, Robert S. (Robert Sengstacke), 1868-1940

Alternative names
Birth 1868-11-24
Death 1940-02-29

Biographical notes:

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.

From the description of Papers, 1847-1997. (Chicago Public Library). WorldCat record id: 319435998


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  • African Americans--Civil rights--History--20th century--Sources
  • African Americans--Sources
  • African Americans--Newspapers--Sources


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  • Illinois--Chicago (as recorded)