Louisville Leader Collection, 1917-1950

Descriptive Summary

Louisville Leader Collection, 1917-1950
Louisville Leader
Finding Aid Author
Archives Staff
University of Louisville

Collection Overview

Scope and Content
The first issue of the Louisville Leader came off the press on November 3, 1917. The public spirit of editor I. Willis Cole manifested itself in that initial issue, which reported at length the Young Men's Christian Association membership campaign. At its peak in 1926, the I. Willis Cole Publishing Company employed fifteen people, and the Leader enjoyed a weekly circulation of approximately 20,000.
The Louisville Leader was a black community newspaper in the fullest sense; it covered local religious, educational, social, fraternal, and sporting activities, as well as national and international news. Years before the civil rights movement of the 1950's and beyond, Cole was relentless in striving for racial justice; the Leader carried the motto "It is your newspaper-militant but stable." He planned ultimately to publish bi-weekly or even daily, but this hope ended with his death on February 19, 1950. His family tried to continue the newspaper, but suspended publication in the fall of 1950.
This microfilm publication was prepared from originals that were saved by the Cole family. They were first housed in the Cole Publishing Company building where they were badly damaged by a fire in 1954. Eventually, the family gave the badly deteriorated bulk of the collection to Kentucky State University, Frankfort, Kentucky, who loaned them for filming. The series has been supplemented by personal copies graciously donated by the editor's widow, Mrs. Rosa L. Cole of Louisville. Financing for this meticulous microfilm has been generously provided by members andfriends of the I. Willis Cole family, WLOU Radio, Mammoth Life and Accident Insurance Company, the University of Louisville, and Kentucky State University.
While a significant run of the Leader has been filmed, substantial gaps exist, and a list of those missing issues is found at the beginning of each reel. Roll I contains a reel-by-reel inventory of the microfilm series, as well as selected historical materials relating to the Louisville Leader and its editor. A group of selected newspaper fragments has been filmed at the end of the series.

Contents of the Collection

November 10, 1917 through May 31, 1924

  • Reel 1
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June 7, 1924 through June 29, 1929

  • Reel 2
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July 6, 1929 through March 26, 1932

  • Reel 3
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April 2, 1932 through March 30, 1935

  • Reel 4
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April 6, 1935 through December 26, 1942

  • Reel 5
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February 27, 1943 through August 27, 1949

  • Reel 6
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September 3, 1949 through September 30, 1950 and selected fragments

  • Reel 7
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