From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Thompson, Richard W.

(born: 1865  -  died: 1920) 

Richard W. Thompson was born in Brandenburg, KY,. His family moved to Indianapolis, IN when he was a child.

At the age of 15, Thompson was the first African American page with the Indiana Legislature. He was hired by Bagby & Co. at the age of 17 and was later a bookkeeper for the secretary of the Marion County Board of Health. He was a mailman from 1888-1893; he had finished first among a class of 75  taking the 1888 Marion County civil service examination.

Thompson later become managing editor of the newspapers Freeman and Indianapolis World. He  left Indiana to become a government clerk with the Washington, D.C. Census Bureau, beginning in 1894, becoming the first African American at that post. While in D.C., he was the managing editor of the Colored American magazine until 1903, then managed the the National Negro Press Bureau, a news service for African American newspapers.

Thompson was an affiliate of Booker T. Washington, who subsidized the Press Bureau and influenced African American newspaper editors.

In 1920, Richard Thompson died in Washington, D.C. at the Freedmen's Hospital.

For more see The Booker T. Washington Papers, vol. 5 (1899-1900), p. 48 (available full-text on Google Books); Twentieth Century Negro Literature, Or, a Cyclopedia of Thought on the Vital Topics Relating to the American Negro, edited by D. W. Culp [available online from Project Gutenberg]; Slave and Freeman: the autobiography of George L. Knox, by G. L. Knox; and "R. W. Thompson dead," Baltimore Afro-American, 2/20/1920, p. 1.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Meade County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Brandenburg, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Thompson, Richard W.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 18, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-02-05 19:36:29