Du Bois in Paris – Exposition Universelle, 1900

We thank our colleague Ellen Terrell of the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division for the post from which this was excerpted. You can find the complete, original text published on the Inside Adams blog. Students may learn about the Paris Exposition from this post and by exploring this online collection.

The Paris Exposition held in 1900 was a lavish affair featuring contributions from all over the world showcased in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I was really inspired when I saw an image titled “Negro business men in the United States” and was intrigued by information in the note indicating that it had been created by Atlanta University students for the “Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exposition Universelle. I did some reading and I was even more excited when I saw that Daniel A.P. Murray, an African American researcher and historian at the Library of Congress was involved. He worked with W. E. B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Thomas J. Calloway, and others to create the exhibit.

Daniel A. P. Murray (1852 -1925). Photographer unknown. Photograph, undated. //memory.loc.gov/ammem/aap/murray.html

Daniel A. P. Murray (1852 -1925). Photographer unknown. Photograph, undated.

The Colored American. (Washington, D.C.), 03 Nov. 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. //chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83027091/1900-11-03/ed-1/seq-8/

The Colored American. (Washington, D.C.), 03 Nov. 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. 

The Colored American. (Washington, D.C.), 25 Aug. 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. //chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83027091/1900-08-25/ed-1/seq-3/

The Colored American. (Washington, D.C.), 25 Aug. 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. 

Exhibit of the American negroes at the Paris exposition. Illus. in: The American monthly review of reviews, vol. XXII, no. 130 (1900 November), p. 576. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.04826

Exhibit of the American negroes at the Paris exposition. Illus. in: The American monthly review of reviews, vol. XXII, no. 130 (1900 November), p. 576.

Du Bois developed a number of charts and graphs, including several devoted to property ownership and land valuation, education, income, population, the value of household and kitchen furniture, etc. There were several devoted to occupations including Occupations of Negroes and whites in Georgia, Occupations of Georgia Negroes – Males over 10, one on Occupations which included wage information, and Occupations and Income by sex and by families. Some of them can be seen in the photo of the exhibit (an original of which is in the papers of W. E. B. Du Bois at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst) some of which I think I have identified – one that was a Social Study, another contains statistical charts on the conditions of slave descendants, and the third covers property value. Thankfully, what was used in the exhibit can be searched or browsed in the African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition collection.

There is a great cover story from the November 3 edition of the Colored American written by Calloway (they also published Calloway’s plea for support). It contained information about the history of the exhibit, a transcription of a letter written by Calloway proposing the exhibit, letters from supporters like Mary Church Terrell, and information about the exhibit itself (including most if not all, of his report to the Commission). In that November 3 Colored American, the editor wrote:

Few things have been done for us in the last two decades that have counted so much for our dignity and capacity as the winning of so many prizes of high distinction in Paris last summer. (p.8)

The colored American. (Washington, D.C.), 03 Nov. 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. //chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83027091/1900-11-03/ed-1/seq-1/

The Colored American. (Washington, D.C.), 03 Nov. 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

What did your students discover about W.E.B. DuBois and the Paris exposition?

Teaching Civic Ideals and the Writing Process using Primary Sources

The Rosa Parks Papers at the Library of Congress testify to her courage, humility, and depth. They also reflect how she inspired others. Evaluating those documents based on their historical context, word choice, and revisions can deepen students’ understanding of her life and impact on the civil rights movement.