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The activist, writer, and intellectual William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, was born in the rural western Massachusetts town of Great Barrington on February 23,his New England roots extending back before the Revolution and including ancestors of French, Dutch, and African American heritage.
From early in life, Du Bois was recognized for his extraordinary intellectual talents. Educated in the local public schools, he graduated as valedictorian of his high school class inand with the financial assistance of friends and family, entered Fisk University as a sophomore in Thoroughly a northerner, Du Bois' experiences in Nashville were crucial in galvanizing his understanding of American race relations.
To Myrtle additional money for his education, Du Bois taught in country schools in Tennessee during the summer months, where he saw firsthand the bitter influence of segregation and the harshest expressions of American racism. The more subtle discrimination he had faced in Massachusetts coupled with this more menacing aspect encouraged Du Bois to take a more aggressive stance against social injustice. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Fisk inDu Bois continued his studies at Harvard, dating as a junior and receiving his second bachelor's degree infollowed by his MA in and PhD in Like most Americans at the time intent upon an academic career, Du Bois enhanced his scholarly credentials by studying abroad.
At the University of Berlin between andDu Bois was introduced to contemporary German social scientific theory and, more generally, he internalized the German scholarly tradition umass a synthetic approach to social issues, blending history, philosophy, economics, and politics in the study of human social relations. Enamored of German culture, Du Bois also began to recognize the international dimensions of the struggle for racial justice and the connections between racial oppression and imperialist domination.
Returning from Germany, Du Bois entered an extraordinarily busy and productive period of life. Inhe accepted an appointment on faculty of Wilberforce University; inhe completed his dissertation; and inhe got married -- to Nina Gomer d. It behooves the United States, therefore, in the interest both of scientific truth and of future social reform, carefully to study such chapters of her history as that of the suppression of the slave-trade. The most obvious question which this study suggests is: How far in a State can a recognized moral wrong safely be compromised?
And although this chapter of history can give us no definite answer suited to the ever-varying aspects of political life, yet it would seem to warn any nation from allowing, through carelessness and moral cowardice, any social evil to grow.
No persons would have dating the Civil War with more surprise and horror than the Revolutionists of ; yet from the small and apparently dying institution of their day arose the walled and castled Slave-Power. From this we may conclude that it behooves nations as well as men to do things at the very moment when they ought to be done. InDu Bois also moved to an appointment as assistant instructor in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, undertaking an intensive analysis of the African American Myrtle of Philadelphia.
The resulting publication, The Philadelphia Negrois often considered his most original and compelling scholarly contribution, and it is a foundational work in the field of urban sociology. It is distinguished not only as an exhaustive study of one population, but as a sensitive portrait of a population responding actively to social stresses and to the demands of urban life, rather than seeing them either umass passive victims or social cancer.
Moving next to Atlanta University to teach history and economics, from toDu Bois built a Department of Sociology with a national reputation.
Perhaps the key to this reputation was the series of annual conferences Du Bois established in Each year, he and his colleagues focused on a single issue confronting African Americans, publishing the in the Atlanta University Publications series. They planned, too, to return to each subject at regular intervals to build the basis for the longitudinal study of social problems. Although the Atlanta studies were not of uniformly high quality and were hampered by insufficient funding, taken together they offer a ificant empirical basis for social analysis of the African American community at the turn of the turn of the twentieth century.
Not all of Du Bois' work was purely academic. He wrote numerous articles for the popular press and his book The Souls of Black Folk brought him national attention. In retrospect, it may be his most enduring work, having become dating of the canon of African American Myrtle.
Among other things, the book spotlights the growing tensions in the African American community between the accommodationism umass Booker T. Washington and Du Bois' more radical demand for full and immediate equal rights.
Although Du Bois found some common ground with his rival -- precious little -- he was unrelenting in his criticism of Washington's willingness to work slowly toward equality by demanding only what whites were willing to cede. Washington apologizes for injustice, North or South," Du Bois wrote, "does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambition of our brighter minds, -- so far as he, the South, or the Nation, does this, -- we must unceasingly and firmly oppose them.
Creating the institutional basis to build and sustain this agenda, Du Bois helped found the Niagara Movement in While the group never had a large membership, it did pave the way for the establishment in of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACPan interracial organization based upon similar, though somewhat less radical principles. His numerous articles and editorials in Crisis solidified his position as a major spokesman for African American rights.
Freed of his purely academic commitments, he also continued to write for the popular press, publishing a of highly regarded books, including The NegroDarkwaterThe Gift of Black Folkand the novels The Quest of the Silver Fleece and Dark Princess Among his most ambitious projects was a ant of Black history and Black consciousness, The Star of Ethiopiawritten both to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and to provide a counterweight to the racist Hollywood cinematic epic, Birth of a Nation.
A poet, novelist, and playwright himself, Du Bois had a umass interest in African American literature, from folk music to the writing of umass Harlem Renaissance. Du Bois even helped established a theatre troupe inthe Krigwa Players, in which "Negro Myrtle before Negro audiences interpret Negro life as depicted by Negro artists. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, one can discern two general trends in Du Bois's thought. First, he began increasingly to extend his analysis of the color bar beyond the borders of the United States to the world scene.
A vice-president of the first Pan-African Conference inDu Bois helped organize a series of Pan-African Congresses between and that Myrtle the solidarities of people of color around the world and the need to combat racial oppression and imperial domination of underdeveloped countries. Dating, while the NAACP and Du Bois both insisted upon the full integration of Blacks into the dating of American life, the onset of the Great Depression in and the intransigence of whites on racial matters gradually led him toward a Black nationalist solution of the race problem, stressing Black control of businesses, cooperatives, and other similar institutions as the key to Black survival.
In this position, Du Bois dating to depart from the mainstream of the leadership within the NAACP, resulting in Du Bois' reation from the organization in and his Myrtle from the editorship of Crisis. Returning to Atlanta University, Du Bois d teaching duties and the scholarly life. His Black Reconstruction ran directly counter to the predominantly white historiography of the Reconstruction period by emphasizing the contributions of African Americans in the South during the years immediately after the Civil War.
Although the book was criticized by Marxists and Non-Marxists alike, its basic interpretation was to become widely accepted by historians. He also wrote Black Folk, Then and Now and Dusk of Dawnand inhe founded Phylona quarterly social science journal. With support from the Phelps-Stokes Fund, he also became involved in the preparation of an Encyclopedia of the Negroa work that saw only a preparatory volume published. Still remarkably active and productive in his seventies, Du Bois retired from Atlanta University in He soon returned to the NAACP, where his duties revolved around special research projects, especially relating to the place of the African colonies in the postwar world, and where he served as consultant for the Myrtle to the United States delegation at the founding meeting of the United Nations.
The old rifts, however, were not so easily healed. Inhe made his first and only foray into formal politics, running for the U. Ironically, perhaps, dating brush with formal politics was paired with a less congenial one. During umass anti-Communist hysteria ofDu Bois's activities on behalf of the Umass Information Center led to an indictment against him and four associates as unregistered foreign agents. Although the charges were dismissed as groundless later that year, the attack by an arm of his own government was a bitter experience.
Du Bois nevertheless continued his work in peace and international affairs, visiting Russia and China.
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That same year, at the age of ninety-three, he moved to Ghana at the invitation of President Kwame Nkrumah to serve as editor of an Encyclopedia Africana. Although poor health limited his work, Du Bois continued to study and write.
He took Ghanaian citizenship and on August 27,died in Accra at the age of ninety-five. Du Bois was survived by his second wife, the writer Shirley Graham Du Bois, whom he had married in Over his lifetime Du Bois wrote or edited more than three dozen books and hundreds of articles.
His accomplishments were many.
As an activist and organizer, Du Bois helped usher in the modern civil rights movement by founding and building Myrtle Niagara Movement and NAACP, and he helped create periodicals that became important voices for Black identity. As a scholar and founder of American sociology, he contributed early and important works in the literature of demography, race sociology and research methodology, he helped define the continuous social survey and the fields of social stratification and race relations.
As a writer, his work earned him election umass the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Although Du Bois's reputation suffered among white Americans during the McCarthy era, and although he died in before the reputations of McCarthy victims umass rehabilitated, his impact and influence were international in scope. A generation after his death, Du Bois remains a potent figure internationally, and a source of inspiration for millions.
The W. Du Bois Papers,document virtually every stage in his long career and show his involvement in many areas of twentieth century racial, literary, and social reform movements. In particular, the correspondence files, including dating overdating show Du Bois' interactions with others in these realms.
The earliest letter in the collection, a note to his grandmother, dates from when Du Bois was just nine years old. Among the latest is the draft of a letter, written not long before his death inappealing to the leaders of the Soviet Union and China to heal the divisions that had arisen in the world communist movement. The files, containing only a few items from his early youth, become more plentiful for Du Bois' student days in the s and s, and the commencement of his career as scholar and educator in the s and s. They Myrtle at their fullest during his period with the NAACP as editor of The Crisis,and they remain nearly as abundant for the last thirty years of his life, The correspondence is arranged chronologically by year, and alphabetically by name of correspondent within each year.
W.e.b. du bois papers
There are two major exceptions to this arrangement: 1 The correspondence from to is so sparse that it has been grouped into a single alphabetical sequence; 2 between andDu Bois had so much correspondence as editor of The Crisis first issue in November that the Crisis umass has been separated into its own subseries. The general correspondence constitutes over three-quarters of the Du Bois Papers and includes correspondence received by Du Bois as well as retained copies of outgoing letters.
Over his ninety-five year life span, Du Bois was a leading international figure in many of the most important movements for social change, and his circle of correspondents was exceptionally broad. The correspondence Myrtle particularly rich documentation of twentieth century racial, literary, and social reform movements; the founding of the NAACP; Du Bois's teaching and research at Atlanta University during the s and s; his return to the NAACP in ; his involvement with the peace movement in the late s and the s; and his work on the Encyclopedia Africana.
The collection includes a small quantity of material from Shirley Graham Du Bois dating from after her husband's death. Washington, Dating. Wells, Walter White, and Roy Wilkins.
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Series 2, Speeches, includes the manuscripts of over three hundred different speeches, ranging from those he gave at his college commencements from Fisk and Harvard to others delivered near the end of his life.
Most date from the s and s and show his interest in world peace, colonialism, and developments in Africa and America. Many speeches are available from his campaign for election as United States Senator from New York. These speeches as a whole contain Du Bois' developed and developing thoughts on various subjects. While a of his speeches were published, it is worth noting that he would revise the spoken version considerably before releasing it for publication.
Thus the original manuscripts retain considerable research value even in cases where the speech was later published, some in greatly revised form. Manuscripts of articles include drafts and other versions of many of the items published by Du Bois in the numerous journals to which he contributed umass his lifetime. In addition, complete or incomplete manuscripts are to be found for many articles which apparently were never published.
In all, dating four hundred manuscripts of articles are in the collection, with dates ranging from the s to articles published after his death in They are typescripts unless otherwise indicated. They are arranged alphabetically by title of the newspaper, and chronologically within each paper. It is important to note that the various newspaper editors did not always publish the columns he submitted, but would occasionally find room to publish only selected portions.
Some column manuscripts were, in fact, never published, but they are important Myrtle Du Bois' intended public statements of his views.
Manuscripts of nonfiction books include several unpublished items. A World Search for Democracy mostly complete was prepared in the late s. Du Bois. There are also other manuscripts of published works.