About the Colored
232 West Canton Street as it appears today.
Photo: Alisha Knight.
A Brief History
The Colored Co-operative Publishing Company’s headquarters were located in Boston, Massachusetts. The company was founded in the boarding house residence of Harper S. Fortune and Walter W. Wallace at 232 West Canton Street.
By September 1900, the company had moved to an office building at 5 Park Square. The company moved again in late spring 1903 to 82 West Concord Street and remained there until it’s flagship publication, the Colored American Magazine, was sold in 1904.
In October 1901, the Colored Co-operative Publishing Company proudly boasted that it was the only publishing company of its kind, the only one “issuing exclusively, publications devoted to the interests of the Negro race.” Although there were a handful of other black-owned publishing houses in existence—like the A.M.E. Book Concern, the American Negro Academy, and Sutton Griggs’s Orion Publishing Company—the Colored Co-operative was the only black-owned commercial book publisher at the time.
For more information about the Colored Co-operative’s strategies for disseminating literature to African American readers, see Alisha Knight, “’To have the benefit of some special machinery’: African American Book Publishing and Bookselling, 1900-1920” in US Popular Print Culture 1860-1920, ed. Christine Bold (Oxford UP, 2012), pp. 437-456.
For more information about the Colored Co-operative’s book publishing endeavors, see Alisha Knight, “Transitions in African American Book Publishing and Print Culture” in African American Literature in Transition, 1900-1910, ed. Shirley Moody-Turner (Cambridge UP, 2021), pp. 48-72.
The Headquarters of the Colored Co-operative Publishing Company as pictured in the Jan./Feb. 1902 issue of the Colored American Magazine
The Colored Co-operative’s main office and shipping room as pictured in the Jan./Feb. 1902 issue of the Colored American Magazine.