Happy Birthday Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois!

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness… one ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two un-reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” ~ W. E. B. Du Bois

RG 79 “W.E.B. Dubois photo from NAACP Collection” Massachusetts NHL DuBois, W.E.B., Boyhood Homesite (NAID 63793639)

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts to Alfred and Mary Silvina Burghardt Du Bois. He was a historian, sociologist, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, and the first African American to obtain a Doctoral Degree from Harvard University. Du Bois graduated from Fisk University in 1888, studied for two years at the University of Berlin, and completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1895. He taught at Wilberforce University and Atlanta University, as well as produced a number of scholarly works, that include The Suppression of the African Slave Trade (which was his dissertation), The Philadelphia Negro, Black Reconstruction in America, and The Souls of Black Folk.

Du Bois was a founding member of the Niagara Movement and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he served as the editor of The Crisis Magazine. He was also very active in the Pan-African Movement and organized several of the Pan-African Conferences, which were held in Paris, London, Brussels, and Lisbon. Du Bois relocated to Accra, Ghana in 1961, to begin work on an encyclopedia on the African diaspora, which was completed after his death by several Black scholars in 1999. As a renowned scholar and intellect, he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 1958 and received the Lenin Peace Prize from the USSR. Dr. Du Bois was also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.

RG 79 “William E. B. DuBois Boyhood Homesite Great Barrington, Mass east parcel looking north” Massachusetts NHL DuBois, W.E.B., Boyhood Homesite (NAID 63793639)

The National Archives holds several textual documents, moving images, and sound recordings related to the life and federal career of W.E.B. Du Bois. RG 79 Massachusetts NHL DuBois, W.E.B., Boyhood Homesite (NAID 63793639) is the application for the parcel of land where Du Bois’ childhood home in Massachusetts once stood, to be added to the National Register. Other items relating to Du Bois held at the National Archives are found in RG 517 W.E.B. Du Bois: A Pulitzer Prize Winning Biography by David Lewis (NAID 302874473), RG 517 W.E.B. Du Bois (NAID 286244776), and  FDR-PPF: Letter, W.E.B. Du Bois to Franklin Roosevelt (NAID 311315321).

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