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W.E.B. Du Bois in Philadelphia

Posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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W.E.B. Du Bois in Philadelphia

Sociologist, author, civil rights activist and eventual NAACP co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963), came to Philadelphia in 1896 to work as a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Du Bois performed sociological field research in Philadelphia’s Seventh Ward, one of the country’s oldest and predominantly African American neighborhoods, leading to creation of his groundbreaking study, “The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study.”

W.E.B. Du Bois, 1918 - Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The Philadelphia Negro

“The Philadelphia Negro,” was the first case study of a Black community in the United States and proved instrumental in helping to scientifically show the negative effects of racial segregation and discrimination. Du Bois’ study proved not only important to understanding Black society in America but to the entire field of sociology. Du Bois’ use of information graphics within his work proved revolutionary within the field, helping to further establish Sociology as a respected quantitative science.

W.E.B. Du Bois Residence

While in Philadelphia conducting his study, Du Bois lived in the Seventh Ward, which was the area that he was studying. His residence was at 617 Rodman Street. The house has since been demolished, and the land is now part of Starr Garden Playground on Lombard Street between 6th and 7th Streets. There is a historical marker in front of Starr Garden today, commemorating Du Bois’ time living in Philadelphia.

W.E.B. Du Bois Historical Marker next to Starr Garden Playground

Additional Information

Starr Garden (The historical marker for W.E.B. Du Bois is located on 6th Street)
600-644 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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