Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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English and Journalism
Charles Edward Russell (1860-1941)
By Bill Knight
Born into journalism, Russell moved from the Quad Cities to New York and history
Charles Edward Russell was born into a newspaper family and continued to write his whole life. Learning journalism from his father, the editor and part owner of the Davenport Gazette, Russell held a succession of jobs as either a reporter or editor in Davenport, Minneapolis, Detroit and New York City.
During his career, he served as a reporter for the New York Commercial Advertiser, reporter and city editor of the New York World (which had him cover the Haymarket riots in Chicago), managing editor of the New York American, and publisher of the Chicago American. However, he was most influential as one of the muckraking era’s best magazine writers, uncovering railroad corruption, electoral fraud, slumlords and the Beef Trust for magazines such as Everybody’s, Pearson’s , Cosmopolitan and Hampton’s.
One of the five people who founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the NAACP), Russell later turned to poetry and biography, writing about emperor Charlemagne, composer Theodore Thomas, and Philippine patriot Jose Rizal.
His autobiography is Bare Hands and Stone Walls.