Houston Public Library, Houston Metropolitan Research Center

C. F. Richardson, Sr. Papers MSS.1457

Descriptive Summary

Creator Richardson, C. F., Sr. (Clifton Frederick)
Title: C. F. Richardson, Sr. Papers
Dates: 1909-1939
Identification: MSS.1457
Quantity: 0.25 Linear feet, 29 items
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Biographical Note

Clifton Frederick Richardson was a Black editor/publisher, journalist, political activist and civic booster in Houston during the period of 1911-1939. Both his editorial/journalist career and political activist activities can be defined using the titles of four of the publications he edited: “Watchman, Observer, Informer and Defender.”

Mr. Richardson was born in Marshall, Texas, on October 30, 1892, as the youngest of the three children of Charlie, a laborer, and Bettie, a housewife. He graduated with honors from Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, in June 1909, with a degree in journalism and printing. While there, he was the first editor of the weekly college publication, The Louisiana Watchman.

Mr. Richardson married his childhood sweetheart, Ruby Leola Rice, on June 13, 1909, in Marshall, Texas. After graduating from Bishop College, he and his wife moved to Dallas in 1910, where he was employed as a printer with the Dallas Express.

In 1911, he moved his family to Houston due to a request from Professor E. D. Pierson to work with the Western Star. In March 1916, William N. Nickerson Jr., Clifton F. Richardson Sr., R. T. Andrews and Campbell A. Gilmore founded the Houston Observer and he became the first manager-editor of the paper. On May 2, 1919, he founded and became the editor of The Houston Informer. On October 11, 1930, Mr. Richardson founded and became editor/publisher of the Houston Defender.

Mr. Richardson was an officer or co-founder of the following businesses, fraternal, political and civic organizations: American Mutual Benefit Association Inc. (partner), the Safety and Loan Brokerage Company (vice-president), Houston Community Chest (director of a 1925 charity drive), National Negro Business League (executive committee) , the Houston Negro Chamber of Commerce (one of the founders and first vice-president) , Texas Association of Negro Musicians for South Texas (district director), Coleridge-Taylor Choral Choir (president), Houston Colored Commercial Club (executive secretary), Houston Independent Voters Leagues/Progressive Voters’ League (one of the founders), Black and Tan Party of Harris County (co-founder in the 1920s), Real Building and Loan Association (president), Houston Negro Business League (president), Bethel Baptist Church (chairman of the board of trustees), Bethel Baptist Church (director of the School Choir), Bethel Baptist (soloist with the senior church choir), Bethel Baptist Church (teacher of the men’s Bible class), Webster-Richardson Publishing Company (president), grand president of several “Juneteenth Celebrations,” Southern Collegiate Conference Texas (official umpire for all games played at Prairie View State College). He was a member of the following organizations: Ancient Order of Pilgrims and United Brothers of Friendship, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, and the Y. M. C. A.

Mr. Richardson was a vocal supporter of civil rights, writing many articles on the issue in his various publications. He was a founding member of the Civic Betterment League (CBL) of Harris County, and founding member and later president of Houston’s NAACP chapter. He endured threats of violence and an attack on the Houston Informer newspaper office for his activism.

Clifton F. Richardson died of kidney failure in August 1939. His funeral procession was one of the largest in Houston’s history. In a tribute to Mr. Richardson at his death, Miss M. E. B. Isaacs, society editor, stated “If I could write his epitaph, I would inscribe upon his tombstone-Clifton F. Richardson, Negro Journalist and fearless defender of the Black Man’s Rights.”


Because the collection was donated digitally and further accessions are anticipated, items have been arranged into series by type.


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the C. F. Richardson, Sr. Papers must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Index Terms

Houston Defender
Richardson family
Richardson, C. F., Sr. (Clifton Frederick)
The Houston Informer
African American journalists--Texas--Houston
African Americans--Texas--Houston
Civic leaders--Houston (Tex.)
Civil rights--Texas--Houston
Houston (Tex.)--Politics and government
Race relations—Texas—Houston

Related Material

Microfilm of some issues of The Houston Informer and the Houston Defender is available for viewing in the Texas Room.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

C. F. Richardson, Sr. Papers. MSS 1457. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donated by: Leon Richardson, 2008.

Processing Information

Processed by: Amber Seely, May 2008.

Digitized Materials

A portion of this collection has been digitized and is available through the Houston Area Digital Archives. Please view the digitized material at: http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/cdm/search/collection/archival!images/searchterm/Richardson/field/all/mode/all/conn/and/order/nosort/ad/asc

An oral history related to this collection is available at: http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/Interviews/id/15/rec/1

Other digitized material related to this collection is available at: http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/timeline/richardson.html

Detailed Description of the Collection


C.F. Richardson, Sr. Documents
1 Marriage license of C.F. Richardson, Sr. and Ruby Leola Rice, June 13, 1909
2 Graduation program from Houston Colored High Schools, June 2, 1934
3 Letter from C.F. Richardson, Sr. to Charles Houston of the N.A.A.C.P. regarding a proposed scholarship bill, October 16, 1937
4 Program from N.A.A.C.P. Youth Council's dedication of C.F. Richardson, Sr.'s portrait, February 7, 1943
5 Program from the National Newspaper Publisher's Association's ceremony honoring the enshrinement of C.F. Richardson, Sr. into the Black Press Archives, March 21, 1991
6 List of citations for research on C.F. Richardson, Sr., compiled by grandson Leon Richardson, 2008
Richardson Family Documents
1 Bachelor of Science degree awarded to Leon Andrews Richardson (C.F. Richardson, Sr.'s middle son) from Prarie View State College, August 14, 1937
2 Cliff Richardson Jr.'s Texas Black Media Coalition Award, February 26, 1977
Certificate of Merit awarded to Leon Andrews Richardson from Houston Independent School District upon his retirement, September 7, 1977
3 Acknowledgement of Leon Andrews Richardson's 25 years of service to the University Presbyterian Church by his sons, 1990
5 Program from the enshrinement of C.F. Richardson, Jr. into the Black Press Archives, March 16, 2001
Documents Regarding Newspapers
1 Governor Clements' Recognition of the 52nd Anniversary of the Houston Defender - October 26, 1982
2 Mickey Leeland's Recognition of the 52nd Anniversary of the Houston Defender - October 29, 1982
City of Houston Proclamation: 52nd Anniversary of the Houston Defender Day n.d.
3 1990


1 Front page of Black Dispatch headlining C.F. Richardson, Sr.'s visit to the National Negro Business League Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, August 27, 1925
2 Clipping showing C.F. Richardson at work in the 1423 West Dallas office, n.d.


1 C.F. Richardson, Sr. and business associates
2 C.F. Richardson, Sr.
3 Early photo of C.F. Richardson, Sr.
4 Ruby Leola (Rice) Richardson
5 Robert "Bob" Maurice Richardson, working at the Houston Defender newspaper office.
6 C.F. Richardson, Sr. and other choir members (probably of the Coleridge-Taylor Choir)
7 C.F. Richardson, Sr. family home on Robin Street
8 University Presbyterian Church Steering Committee, including Leon A. Richardson
9 University Presbyterian Church Organizers, including Leon A. Richardson
10 Picture from left to right: Leon A. Richardson, Sr. (middle born son), Roscoe Cavitt (friend), C. F. Richardson, Jr. (first born son), Friend (unidenitified), I. H. Smalley (musician, friend) and Robert (Bob) M. Richardson ( last born son)
11 Winona School of Photography, Portrait Class No. 2, including C. F. Richardson, Jr., 1949
12 Leon A. Richardson, Sr., graduation picture from Booker T. Washington High School
13 C. F. Richardson, Sr at his West Dallas Ave. office