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Overview

As one of the earliest and most influential spokesmen for African American equality, W.E.B. DuBois pioneered many of the strategies and programs of the American civil rights movement. This unique microfilm collection of DuBois's papers documents the private thoughts and public achievements of this radical leader for students of African American studies, American history, and political science.

This important and comprehensive collection of correspondence reveals the many aspects of DuBois's illustrious career:

  • as the nation's first black sociologist, DuBois dispelled the popular myths of racial inferiority through his scientific research
  • he later became the leading proponent of black separatism, calling for direct civil rights action as the only means of achieving social, political, and economic equality
  • his condemnation of Booker T. Washington's theory of black accommodation
  • his role in founding the Niagara Movement in 1905 and as one of the first leaders of the recently formed National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910

DuBois was a historian and a prolific writer with twenty-one books and countless journal articles to his credit. Most famous of his books was The Souls of Black Folk (1903), and its lasting impact on both white and black consciousness is well documented in this collection.

As an internationally known author and activist, DuBois corresponded with some of the most important figures of his era, including Sherwood Anderson, Andrew Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Margaret Mead, Albert Schweitzer, Booker T. Washington, and Roy Wilkins.

The Papers of W.E.B. DuBois provides insight into a critical period in modern social and political history through the eyes of a black leader. Students and scholars will find these papers a necessary part of their research into both the civil rights movement and DuBois's influence on it.

Researchers can trace the changes in DuBois's political and social philosophy over the years as he shifted more and more toward radicalism and eventually became a member of the Communist Party of America at the age of 93. His correspondence, representing as it does a lifetime of progressive thought, also provides valuable historical insight into the development of the modern civil rights movement.

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