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Newspaper The Indianapolis Leader (Indianapolis, Ind.) 1879-1890

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About The Indianapolis Leader (Indianapolis, Ind.) 1879-1890

The Indianapolis Leader began in August 1879 as the city’s first black newspaper.  Three brothers, Benjamin, Robert, and James Bagby published the four-page, Republican weekly with the motto “An Equal Chance and Fair Play.”  The Bagbys advertised the paper as follows: “Let every colored man who favors the elevation of his race subscribe for the Leader; and let every white man who believes that slavery was a crime against humanity and that it is the duty of the ruling race to aid the Negro in his struggle for moral, social and intellectual elevation do likewise.”  A correspondent to the Leader wrote, “The interchange of ideas and opinions so judiciously fostered by the Leader is most beneficial to the race in every way….It is a great educator.”  The Leader carried society news for Indianapolis’s African-American community and encouraged other blacks to migrate to the North.  Circulation was 3,000 in 1884.  Two other African-American newspapers debuted in the city around this time, the Indianapolis Colored World  in 1883 and the Indianapolis Freeman in 1884. The Bagbys’ sold the Leader in 1885; its transition at that point is unclear, although it definitely ceased to be an African-American newspaper.  By 1886, Edward Hutchins was editing and publishing the Leader as a four-page weekly affiliated with the reformist Greenback Party.  Vermillion County farmers Andrew J. Johnson and Lewis H. Johnson acquired the Leader the following year, and Thomas J. Sharp took over as editor and publisher in 1888.  Sharp characterized the Leader as “The great Union Labor paper of Indiana….It circulates, [he wrote,]…chiefly among farmers and the laboring people.”  Sharp reported a circulation of 3,200 in 1888, but two years later the figure fell to 2,300.  Perhaps it was declining readership that prompted Sharp to sell the paper to John Medert in 1890.  Sharp returned as editor in 1891, but the Indianapolis Leader ceased publication sometime that year.

Provided By: Indiana State Library

About this Newspaper


  • The Indianapolis Leader (Indianapolis, Ind.) 1879-1890

Dates of Publication

  • 1879-1890

Created / Published

  • Indianapolis, Ind. : Bagby & Co.


  • -  African Americans--Indiana--Indianapolis--Newspapers
  • -  Indianapolis (Ind.)--Newspapers
  • -  Marion County (Ind.)--Newspapers
  • -  African Americans
  • -  Indiana--Indianapolis
  • -  Indiana--Marion County
  • -  United States--Indiana--Marion--Indianapolis


  • Newspapers


  • -  Weekly
  • -  Began in Aug. 1879; ceased in 1890?
  • -  "First black paper printed in Indianapolis."
  • -  Archived issues are available in digital format as part of the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • -  Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 3 (Aug. 30, 1879).

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn84027490

OCLC Number

  • 11257023

ISSN Number

  • 2332-2527

Additional Metadata Formats


Rights & Access

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

The Indianapolis Leader Indianapolis, Ind. -1890. (Indianapolis, IN), Jan. 1 1879.

APA citation style:

(1879, January 1) The Indianapolis Leader Indianapolis, Ind. -1890. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

The Indianapolis Leader Indianapolis, Ind. -1890. (Indianapolis, IN) 1 Jan. 1879. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,