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. Click on any thumbnail in the gallery to scroll through larger photos.
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.”
*All via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
2 thoughts on “The Sunday porch: Georgia”
Cindy, I’m just getting caught up on your blog after too long away. I had no idea that DuBois had collected photographs; I don’t remember an mention of this in David Levering Lewis’s two-volume biography. Not only are the photos fascinating, but they provide a context for DuBois’s attention to cover images later as editor of The Crisis. Thanks for sharing this.
I found the individual portraits in the collection particularly beautiful.