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

Thompson, Richard W.

(born: 1865  -  died: 1920) 

Richard W. Thompson was born in Brandenburg, KY, and his family moved to Indianapolis, IN, when he was a child. At the age of 15, he 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; Thompson had finished first among a class of 75 persons taking the 1888 Marion County civil service examination. He would later become managing editor of the newspapers Freeman and Indianapolis World. Thompson left Indiana to become a government clerk with the Washington, D.C. Census Bureau, beginning in 1894; he was 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; Washington 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 online by the University of Illinois Press]; 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, 02/20/1920, 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


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Freeman [Indianapolis Freeman] (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Indianapolis world (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Colored American magazine (periodical)
NKAA Source: Slave and freeman, the autobiography of George L. Knox
NKAA Source: The Afro-American (newspaper)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Thompson, Richard W.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 22, 2021,

Last modified: 2019-04-04 18:41:19