Four Foundations Team Up to Buy the Historic Archives of ‘Ebony’ Magazine for $30 Million in a Bankruptcy Sale. The foundations will donate the archive to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture as well as the Getty Research Institute.
Founded in 1942 by John H. Johnson and once the country’s largest African American-owned publishing firm, Johnson Publishing launched Ebony magazine in 1945 and its sister publication Jet in 1951. But Johnson died in 2005, and the company has struggled for at least a decade, first attempting to sell its archives back in 2015. At the time, they were appraised at $46 million. The company sold off Ebony and Jet the following year, and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in April.
“The Johnson Publishing archives are an essential part of American history and have been critical in telling the extraordinary stories of African American culture for decades,” said Capital Holdings V in a statement in April, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. “We want to be sure the archives are protected for generations to come.”