top of page

It is my earnest desire to pursue this particular form of study far enough to constitute a fair basis of induction as to the present condition of the American Negro. If, for instance, Boston in the East, Chicago and perhaps Kansas City in the West, and Atlanta, New Orleans and Galveston in the Souths were studied in a similar way, we should have a trustworthy picture of Negro city life. Add to this an inquiry into similarly selected country districts, and certainly our knowledge of the Negro would be greatly increased. The department of history and economics of Atlanta University, where I am now situated, is pursuing certain lines of inquiry in this general direction. I hope that funds may be put at our disposal for this larger and more complete scheme. Finally, let me add that I trust that this study with all its errors and shortcomings will at least serve to emphasize the fact that the Negro problems are problems of human beings; ungrounded assumptions or metaphysical subtleties. They present a field which the student must enter seriously, and cultivate carefully and honestly. And until he has prepared the ground by intelligent and discriminating research, the labors of philanthropist and statesman must continue to be, to a large extent, barren and unfruitful. ---- WE.B. DuBois [1899].

The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study