The Amsterdam News was started on December 4, 1909, by James H. Anderson. The paper began production with an initial capital only $10. Being located in the center of Harlem, The Amsterdam News spoke for the largest black population in the nation. The paper placed an emphasis on reporting black society news, such as weddings. At one time it had a circulation of more than 100,000 subscribers. During the 1940’s The Amsterdam News was one of the four leading newspapers in the nation. 

The name of the paper comes from the avenue on which James H. Anderson lived in the community known as San Juan Hill. The first issues of the paper were published from his residence on 132 West 65th Street. In 1910 the paper was relocated to Harlem. In 1936, the paper was sold to two West Indian physicians, Clalan Bethan Powell and Phillip M. H. Savory, who caused The Amsterdam News to have all of its departments unionized. They were the first paper in the nation to achieve this. The paper also began to focus on national issues, with people such as W.E.B. DuBois and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. contributing to the magazine.

The newspaper began taking up civil rights causes, such as racism in the military during World War II. The Amsterdam News was also the first newspaper to take an interest in Malcolm X, who published the column “God’s Angry Man.” The paper was published for $2.3 million in 1971 by a group of investors such as Percy E. Sutton. Wilbert A. Tatum and several associates bought the paper in 1983. In December 1997, Eleanor Tatum was appointed to the position of publisher and editor-in-chief of the newspaper.