Black World Magazine Collection, 1969-1975  

Repository: Archives & Special Collections, Charles Evans Inniss Memorial Library of Medgar Evers College, CUNY
Location: CEIML ASPC, Suite 0108
Identifier: BWM
Collection Title: Black World Magazine Collection, 1969-1975
Name of Creator(s): Black World
Inclusive Dates: 1969–1975
Language(s): English
Quantity: 2 linear feet

This collection contains 53 issues of the Black World magazine from 1969-1975.

The magazine was founded in 1942 as Negro Digest. The publication stopped in 1951 and returned in 1961. It was renamed Black World in 1970 and continued to appear until April 1976. Negro Digest was the first of several popular black periodicals founded by John H. Johnson, later the publisher of Ebony and Jet.

Founded by publisher John H. Johnson of the Johnson Publishing Company, it was first published locally in Chicago, Illinois. The Negro Digest was similar to Reader’s Digest but aimed to cover positive stories about the African American community. When he sought financial backing for his first magazine project, he was unable to find any backers black or white, they all agreed that a magazine aimed at a Black audience had no chance for any kind of success.
Johnson then worked at the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company wrote everyone on their mailing list and solicited a two-dollar, prepaid subscription, calculating the amount needed to publish the first issue. To obtain the five hundred dollars needed for postage to mail his letters, he had to use his mother’s furniture as a security on a loan. Johnson called the magazine the Negro Digest after the Reader’s Digest and reprinted articles by and about African American scholars from the African American and Caucasian media. It was edited by Ben Burns. Although called the Negro Digest, it usually contained reproductions of whole articles instead of digests. The letter generated three thousand responses, and the first issue of Negro Digest was published. However, distributors were unwilling to put the periodical on their newsstands, for they too believed that it would not sell.
Johnson persuaded his friends to haunt their neighborhood newsstands, demanding copies of Negro Digest. Joseph Levy, a magazine distributor, was impressed and formed an alliance with Johnson. He provided valuable marketing ideas and opened the doors that allowed Negro Digest to hit the newsstands in other urban centers. The very first issue of the Negro Digest sold about 3,000 copies. Over the course of six months, the magazine published close to 50,000 copies per month. One of the most interesting and well-known columns in the magazine was entitled “If I Were a Negro.” This column concentrated strongly on the unsolicited advice that the Black race had received, by asking prominent citizens mainly of the whites for the resolution to unsolved Black problems.
As a result of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s contribution to the popular column “If I Were a Negro,” the copies sold doubled overnight. Following the year 1945, John H. Johnson created other African American magazines including both Ebony and Jet. As a result of the publication of these two magazines, the circulation of the Negro Digest tended to decline. The Negro Digest ceased publications in 1951 but later returned in 1961. In 1970, the Negro Digest was renamed Black World and was published until April 1976.

(African American Registry

INDEX TERMS (Institutions; Individual names)
Johnson Publishing Company
John H. Johnson

Acquisition Information: This collection was acquired by the Archives of the Charles Evans Inniss Memorial Library, Medgar Evers College, CUNY.
Processing Information: Collection processing and finding aid were completed by Yelena Novitskaya, MEC Archives and Special Collections librarian, in 2022.
Conditions of Access and Use: Access to the collection is unrestricted. It is available for research purposes. Duplication of the collection may be governed by copyright and other restrictions.
Physical Access: Appointment is required for access.

The magazine issues are arranged chronologically (in the order of appearance) in 5 cases and shelved in the Archives.

Case 1: Negro Digest
Negro Digest, January 1969
Negro Digest, February 1969
Negro Digest, April 1969
Negro Digest, May 1969
Negro Digest, June 1969
Negro Digest, July 1969
Negro Digest, August 1969
Negro Digest, September 1969
Negro Digest, October 1969
Negro Digest, November 1969
Negro Digest, December 1969
Negro Digest, January 1970
Negro Digest, February 1970
Negro Digest, March 1970
Negro Digest, April 1970
Case 2: Black World
Black World, May 1970
Black World, June 1970
Black World, July 1970
Black World, September 1970
Black World, October 1970
Black World, November 1970
Black World, January 1971
Black World, February 1971
Black World, March 1971
Black World, April 1971
Black World, May 1971
Case 3: Black World
Black World, June 1971
Black World, July 1971
Black World, September 1971
Black World, November 1971
Black World, December 1971
Black World, January 1972
Black World, February 1972
Black World, April 1972
Black World, May 1972
Black World, June 1972
Black World, July 1972
Case 4: Black World
Black World, August 1972
Black World, September 1972
Black World, October 1972
Black World, November 1972
Black World, December 1972
Black World, January 1973
Black World, February 1973
Black World, March 1973
Black World, April 1973
Black World, May 1973
Black World, June 1973
Black World, July 1973
Case 5: Black World
Black World, August 1973
Black World, September 1973
Black World, October 1973
Black World, November 1973
Black World, December 1973
Black World, February 1974
Black World, March 1974
Black World, April 1974
Black World, May 1974
Black World, June 1974
Black World, July 1974
Case 6: Black World
Black World, August 1974
Black World, September 1974
Black World, October 1974
Black World, November 1974 (2 copies)
Black World, December 1974
Black World, January 1975
Black World, February 1975