As students and researchers committed to social justice, we seek to continue Du Bois' unfinished business of promoting the full humanity of all people with this research, teaching, and public history project.
Through The Ward: Race and Class in Du Bois’ Seventh Ward, we share Du Bois' timeless lessons on race and racial inequality from his 1899 classic, The Philadelphia Negro. We seek to engage in honest dialogue about the continuing impact of race and racism and ways to address enduring racial disparities.

About W.E.B. Du Bois

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (February 23, 1868 - August 27, 1963) was an American civil rights activist, leader, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar. 

In 1896-1897 Du Bois became assistant instructor in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. There he conducted the pioneering sociological study of an urban community, published as The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899).

Du Bois' life and work were an inseparable mixture of scholarship, protest activity, and polemics. All of his efforts were geared toward gaining equal treatment for black people in a world dominated by whites and toward marshaling and presenting evidence to refute the myths of racial inferiority.
Source: NAACP

Learn more about Du Bois
Du Bois in Philadelphia

More than 100 years ago, W.E.B. Du Bois went door-to-door interviewing Black households. He sat in the parlors, kitchens or living rooms of 2,500 families, listening to their stories about life in Philadelphia’s Seventh Ward. Commissioned by the University of Pennsylvania to conduct the study, he moved to the Seventh Ward and completed the research captured in the classic 1899 book, The Philadelphia Negro. W.E.B. Du Bois suggested that the story for Blacks in America has been shaped by the enduring color line.

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Welcome to The Ward

We call this project "The Ward" as a tribute to the historical Seventh Ward that Du Bois surveyed and analyzed in The Philadelphia Negro. At the turn of the 20th century, this 60-block area of downtown Philadelphia had a distinct political and social identity defined, in part, by the large and economically-diverse black population that called it home. 

We intend for the name "The Ward" to capture the real-life struggles relating to race and racism that Du Bois observed in 1896 Philadelphia but that he might have documented in other cities and, in fact, during other eras.

Read the project history

Read The Philadelphia Negro (1899) online

Google Books

The Internet Archive


127 Meyerson Hall
210 South 34th Street
Philadelphia PA 19104
Phone: (215) 746-6189