W.E.B. DuBois’s Color Line From 1900, in Visuals

Sociology students from Atlanta University created the graphs for Exposition Universelle in Paris.

By Hatty Lee Mar 11, 2011

Hand-drawn and full-color infographics from 1900, how could it get any better? These visuals were created by students of preeminent black scholar W.E.B. DuBois while he was teaching Sociology at Atlanta University (h/t All My Eyes). This series of charts showing the race conditions in Georgia was produced to be part of the "Exhibit of American Negroes" for the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Georgia was chosen for being the state with the largest population of blacks at the time. The charts cover a range of data such as population distribution, occupation, migration, land ownership, income and more. As described by DuBois, "the purpose of the exhibit was fourfold: first, it was concerned with showing the history of the American Negro; second, it attempted to describe ‘his present condition;’ third, ‘his education;’ and fourth ‘his literature.’

Over 60 charts were created. Professor Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr., at the University of Miami, has created an online archive of them. Three graphics in color are archived at the Library of Congress. They’re not just informative, they are visually striking as well.