Oral history interview with John Herman Henry Sengstacke, 1972


Sengstacke, John Herman Henry, 1912-1997 (Interviewee)
La Brie, Henry G (Interviewer)
Oral history interview with John Herman Henry Sengstacke, 1972
Other Titles
Reminiscences of John Herman Henry Sengstacke : oral history, 1972; Oral history of John Herman Henry Sengstacke, 1972
In this 1972 interview with Henry La Brie, John H. Sengstacke discusses his family and its role in the publishing industry, how he came to lead Abbott Publishing, and his contribution to the industry. Sengstacke discusses his education, work with his father on the Woodville Times and the West End Post, and his mentorship at the Chicago Defender under the direction of his uncle, Robert S. Abbott. Se ngstacke recalls the history of the Chicago Defender from its founding by his uncle, its condition when he arrived, and the family battle over the control of the paper and its operations. He also discusses the racial composition of the Defender's staff and the steps taken to ensure that blacks were eligible for the unionized mechanical positions at a time when unions excluded blacks from membership. Sengstacke also discusses the importance of the black press' being black owned, challenges faced by the black press, and the black press' role in ending discrimination in America and its Armed Forces. He also discusses access to advertising dollars and the right to access news sources, specifically briefings related to military operations during World War II. He discusses the formation of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the need to preserve the history of the black press, and his role in local and national politics.
Collection Name
Black Journalists oral history collection
Newspapers--Circulation; Newspaper publishing--Economic aspects--United States; Editors; Journalists; African Americans--Civil rights; African American press; African American journalists; Chicago (Ill.); United States Race relations; Sengstacke, John Herman Henry, 1912-1997; Chicago defender
oral histories
Physical Description
sound files : digital preservation master, WAV files (96kHz, 24 bit); 87 pages
Note (Biographical)
John H. Sengstacke (1912-1997) graduated from the Hampton Institute in 1933. Additionally, he studied at the Mergenthaler Linotype School, Chicago School of Printing, Northwestern University, and Ohio State University. Sengstacke, a descendent of Germ an immigrants and a former slave, studied under and worked with his uncle to learn the newspaper and printing trade. He became the vice president and general manager of Robert S. Abbott Publishing in 1934, and upon his uncle's death in 1940 led the publishing company and The Chicago Defender as well. Sengstacke also established the National Newspaper Publisher Association (NNPA) and simultaneously managed the Robert S. Abbott Publishing Company, Sengstacke Enterprises, and Amalgamated Publishers. Additionally, Sengstacke was active in civic affairs at the national, state and local levels.
Interviewed by Henry G. La Brie III on June 22, June 23, and June 24, 1972.
Note (Provenance)
Henry G. La Brie III Gift, 1975
Library Location
Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University
Browse Location’s Digital Content
Catalog Record
Also In
Oral History Archives at Columbia
Time-Based Media
Time-Based Media
Persistent URL
Related URLs
Available digital content for this interview.