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African American History of Philadelphia Heritage Trail
Item 14 of 29

The Philadelphia Historical Commission erected this historical marker in 1995 to honor the life of one of the country's leading 20th century African American intellectuals and co-founder of the NAACP, W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963), who, from 1896-1897, lived in a house that once stood at this location. During that time he conducted research for his sociological study called "The Philadelphia Negro," which was published in 1899.

W.E.B Du Bois' Historical Marker which outlines his many accomplishments. It is located in Philadelphia, PA and additionally exhibits his birth and death years.

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Young W.E.B Du Bois. At a young age, he became the first African American to earn a Ph. D. from Harvard University

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The Crisis was the NAACP's first issue which was published in 1910.

Font, Material property, Signature, Poster

W.E.B. Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He attended Fisk University in 1885 in Nashville, Tennessee. This was where he first encountered the Jim Crow laws. In 1895, he became the first African American to earn a Ph. D. from Harvard University. He married one of his students, Nina Gomer, in 1896 and was hired as professor at Atlanta University in 1897. The Souls of Black Folk, a collection of 14 essays, was published by Du Bois in 1903. In 1909, Du Bois co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The Crisis, NAACP's first issue, was published in 1910. In 1951, he was indicted and tried by the federal government as a foreign agent and in 1961, Du Bois joined the Communist Party and went to Ghana. Du Bois died in Ghana on August 27, 1963. The W.E.B. Du Bois historical marker was dedicated to him on October, 29, 1995.

As stated above, W.E.B Du Bois co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The mission of this association is to "ensure the political and educational equality of minority group citizens of States and eliminate race prejudice" (NAACP, 2021). A group of white liberals and some 60 people issued and signed the call to end racial justice. The NAACP allowed for a period of growth to occur and many rights to be granted to people of color, including the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. While this association has undergone some criticism, it is still pushing forward today and involves the new millennium.

Throughout his lifetime, this historian and writer wrote 21 books and articles. W.E.B Du Bois' most famous book is The Souls of Black Folk which was published in 1903. It was a collection of 14 essays. These essays disputed the main principle of Booker T. Washington’s political program. Washington's principle was that voting and civil rights were less important to Black progress. He wanted African Americans to give up political power, insistence on civil rights, and higher education. "In The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois used the term 'double consciousness', applying it to the idea that Black people must have two fields of vision at all times. They must be conscious of how they view themselves, as well as being conscious of how the world views them" (Wikipedia, 2021). This book impacted the consciousness of both white and Black individuals and allowed for the change that needed to occur across the nation.

W.E.B Du Bois led a very successful life as he has been a part of the many factors that provided equality to African Americans. He felt the repercussions of living in a time where being a person of color was not accepted. This inspired him to be a part of the change that needed to occur across the nation. The impact that he made regarding his many publications and the co-founding of the NAACP allowed for him to create a lasting legacy on the entire nation, especially people of color. To recognize this legacy, a historical marker has been placed in Philadelphia, PA and dedicated to him. Editors. “W.E.B. Du Bois.”, A&E Television Networks, 27 Oct. 2009,

“W.E.B. Du Bois.”, A&E Networks Television, 7 Jan. 2021, 

Frazier, Ian, et al. “When W. E. B. Du Bois Made a Laughingstock of a White Supremacist.” The New Yorker, 15 Aug. 2019, 

Magazine, Smithsonian. “W.E.B. Du Bois' Visionary Infographics Come Together for the First Time in Full Color.”, Smithsonian Institution, 15 Nov. 2018, 

Jordan Besek. Assistant Professor of Sociology. “W.E.B. Du Bois Embraced Science to Fight Racism as Editor of NAACP's Magazine The Crisis.” The Conversation, 13 Oct. 2021, 

Williams, Chad. “Perspective | W.E.B. Du Bois and the Fight for American Democracy.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 1 Apr. 2019,

Bois, W. E. Burghardt Du. “Strivings of the Negro People.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 24 June 2020, 

W.E.B. Du Bois, 

Our history. NAACP. (2021, May 11). Retrieved December 16, 2021, from 

Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, November 23). The souls of Black Folk. Wikipedia. Retrieved December 16, 2021, from 

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