While he was a professor of sociology at Atlanta University, W. E. B. Du Bois compiled 363 photographs of African American life in Georgia into several albums — which he displayed at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle.
The pictures* here, taken in 1899 or 1900, were part of his collection.
A group on the front porch of the Atlanta home of an African American lawyer, by Thomas E. Askew. He took many of the portraits in the albums.
Du Bois’s exhibited albums particularly featured middle-class African Americans and their homes and institutions, and dozens of fine individual portraits were included.
“The photographs of affluent young African American men and women challenged the scientific ‘evidence’ and popular racist caricatures of the day that ridiculed and sought to diminish African American social and economic success,” according to the Library of Congress’s online catalogue.
In 2003, the Library of Congress published a book of 150 of the images, entitled A Small Nation of People. You can listen to a good NPR interview with its co-author, historian Deborah Willis, here. In it, she mentions porches being photographed for the exhibit, as places “central to family gatherings.”
Interestingly, this house anticipates the decrease in the size of the American porch in the coming two decades, possibly because home owners would become more interested in their backyards, according to Michael Dolan in his book, The American Porch.
You can scroll through larger versions of the photos above, plus two more, by clicking on ‘Continue reading’ below and then on any thumbnail in the gallery.
*For all photos, the photographers are unnamed (except for the Askew picture above); all via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.