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Villard, Oswald Garrison

Oswald Garrison Villard (1872 – 1942): Civil Rights Activist and Editor of the The Nation and the

New York Evening Post


Oswald Parnson Villard stands in front of a building. His hands are clasped behind his back. He wears a suit.
Oswald Parnson Villard
Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Oswald Garrison Villard (1872–1949) was an American journalist, pacifist, and civil rights advocate.  The son of railroad tycoon Henry Villard and and suffragist Fanny Villard (the daughter of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison) and one of the founders of the Women’s Peace Movement. Villard became publisher of both the New York Evening Post and The Nation.  He used his fortune to promote liberal causes, including woman’s suffrage, anti-imperialism, and Negro uplift. Villard originally supported Booker T. Washington, believing education was the solution to the “Negro problem,” but the Brownsville affair and Atlanta riot convinced him of the need for a more militant strategy. The “Committee for the Advancement of the Negro Race” (1906) that he envisioned became the blueprint for the NAACP. Villard funded the NAACP’s budget and provided free office space in the Evening Post building. He resigned as NAACP chairman in 1914 due to irreconcilable differences with W. E. B. Du Bois, but remained a board member until his death in 1949.

Early Years: Oswald Garrison Villard was born in 1872 in Wiesbaden, Germany. His father was a journalist who invested in railroad with success. He eventually bought the The Nation and the New York Evening Post (now the New York Post). 

Villard graduated from Harvard in 1893 and began writing for the Nation and the New York Evening Post, eventually becoming publisher for both newspapers. Villard also was a founder of the American Anti-Imperialist League, favoring independence for territories taken in the Spanish-American War.

Villard was one of the activists brought together by Mary White Ovington to help found the NAACP. He donated space in the New York Evening Post for her to issue the call for a national conference that led to the National Negro Committee. He also wrote a pamphlet that outlined a vision for the new organization and provided initial funding.

After working as treasurer for the NAACP, he continued to work for civil rights and anti-imperialism. In 1910 he published a book on abolitionist John Brown. Villard died on October 1, 1940 and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, New York.


This work may also be read through the Internet Archive.

For further reading and research:

Oswald Garrison Villard, Sr. Find A Grave.

Kellogg, F. (2009). Oswald Villard, the NAACP and The Nation. The Nation, July 2, 2009.

Oswald Garrison Villard Papers, 1872-1949 Houghton Library, Harvard University.

How to Cite this Article (APA Format): Social Welfare History Project (2016). Oswald Garrison Villard (1872 – 1942): Civil Rights Activist and Editor of the The Nation and the
New York Evening Post.
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