The Enterprise

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The Enterprise
Also published as
The Seattle enterprise. (sn87093376) 1921-05-14 - 1921-05-14
The Enterprise. (sn87093375) 1926-10-08 -1928-12-27
The Northwest enterprise. (sn87093377) 1935-04-18 - 1952-04-04
Dates of publication
Available online
14 May 1921 - 4 April 1952 (1136 issues)
Enterprise Publishing Company
Place of publication
Seattle, King County, WA
Usage rights
No Copyright

The Seattle Enterprise, which would later be called the Enterprise and then finally the Northwest Enterprise, was first published in 1920 by the Seattle Enterprise Publishing Company in Seattle, Washington. Both the paper and publishing company were founded by William Henry Wilson. Born in Connecticut around the year 1876, Wilson published and edited the paper from 1920 to 1935 though itis not clear when he arrived in Seattle. During his time as editor, he became well known as one of the most successful African Americans in Seattle. A leader in the community, Wilson participated in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as well as the Colored Citizens' Committee. Over time, he expanded the circulation of the paper to include Montana and Idaho and began to report news from those areas. Wilson largely disappears from the historical record after leaving the Northwest Enterprise.

After 1935, the Northwest Enterprise went through a series of editors in quick succession. Haskell Campbell was the editor for the three months following Wilson's departure. In November of 1935, Zelmar Lawrence took over and was the editor and publisher until April 1936. George McCoy Francis served as managing editor from June 1936 to April 30, 1937, after which Lawrence returned as editor. Francis had started with the paper as a field representative in Tacoma in 1935 and worked his way up to business manager before becoming managing editor. In January 1938, the editor position passed to John O. Lewis who remained in the position until 1939.

The paper was then acquired by Edward Isidore Robinson, who was born in Mississippi on July 30, 1874. He moved to Seattle around 1914 and was a drug store owner before becoming a publisher. Robinson was a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters and the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of the World (IBPOEW). Under him, the paper became the official publication of the IBPOEW and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). The IBPOEW is an African American fraternal order patterned after the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was the first African American led labor union to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Robinson remained the publisher and editor of the paper until 1950, and continued to be involved with the Northwest Enterprise until its cessation in 1952. Robinson died in 1956 at the age of 84.

After Robinson stepped down as editor and publisher, frequent contributor to the Northwest Enterprise Prentis Ivanhoe Frazier became the publisher and owner of the paper. Frazier was born in Magnolia Springs, Texas on November 17, 1880. He came to Seattle in 1916 and was a well-known bail bonds person for 40 years. Frazier was involved in the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) as well as the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) and the NAACP. He was also a Sunday school superintendent at his church. He died on the 11th of October, 1959, presumably due to the effects of a stroke that occurred two years previously.

The Northwest Enterprise was one of the most successful African American newspapers in the Pacific Northwest. It had many unique features throughout the years, such as "Have you Hurd?" written by Freddie Mae Hurd. Reporting both national news and local news, covering, for example, the struggle between the Seattle area African American community and the owners of the Coon Chicken Inn over the estaurant's racially insensitive name and logo. The paper also covered the campaign of African Americans in Seattle during the 1930s and 1940s to secure jobs at Boeing.

The Northwest Enterprise consistently hired women as journalists and editors. Women correspondents submitted news from throughout the Pacific Northwest, including Tacoma and Portland, and their stories often appeared in a section dedicated to women readers. The editorship of the Portland section passed between several women throughout its run, most notably members of the Bogle family and Mary M. Duncan. Bonnie Belle Bogle, who initially wrote under her formal name as Mrs. W. Bogle (the W. standing for Waldo, her husband's name), and then Kathryn G. Bogle, also initially under her formal name as Mrs. R. Bogle (the R. standing for Richard), managed the Portland section from September 6, 1927 to June 10, 1938. Duncan took over the editorship of the Portland section with the June 17, 1938 issue and continued in the position until April 1952.

Provided by: Washington State Library; Olympia, WA