Du Bois’ Historical Context
and Primary Document Analysis
Students will learn about both Du Bois’ early life and African-American life in the United States and Philadelphia at the turn of the century. Through examining a range of historical primary sources, students will learn and practice skills for analyzing documents to extract information.
- Short video; Small group investigation of primary sources
This lesson introduces students to Du Bois, from his birth in 1868 to the beginning of his work in Philadelphia in 1896. A 10-minute Google Earth video shows students significant places from Du Bois’ life, including Great Barrington Massachusetts, Fisk University, Harvard University, Germany, Wilberforce College, and Philadelphia’s Seventh Ward. Du Bois’ own words from his autobiography narrate the meaning of each place.
Students then meet in small groups to study and to interpret a series of primary source documents. These include newspaper articles, photographs, city records, and journal entries that show different aspects of Philadelphia life in the 1890’s. We have prepared these documents in 6 thematic categories: Population, Education, Work & Industry, Population, Health, and Physical Environment.