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W.E.B. Du Bois Papers

Series 1. Correspondence, 1877-1965

195.50 Boxes (81.52 linear feet)

MS 312


W.E.B. Du Bois, 1907

W.E.B. Du Bois, 1907

Series 1, Correspondence, constitutes over three-fourths of the Du Bois Papers at the University of Massachusetts. It includes correspondence received by Du Bois and carbon copies of letters he wrote to others throughout his life. His life covered ninety-five years of important social change in the United States and in the world, during which Du Bois was a leading participant in many of the most important efforts for change. He knew and corresponded with many of the leading figures of his long lifetime.

Du Bois' correspondence files reflect his involvement in many areas of twentieth century racial, literary and social reform movements. The 100,000 or more items document his career and provide a wealth of information on the work of others with whom Du Bois came into contact. The earliest item of correspondence is from 1877, although the bulk of the material is from the post-1910 period. The files continue through the years of his work with the NAACP, teaching and research at Atlanta University during the 1930s and 1940s, return to the NAACP in 1944, involvement with the peace movement in the late 1940s and the 1950s, and work with the Encyclopedia Africana until his death in 1963. A few items of Shirley Graham Du Bois' correspondence concerning Du Bois from late 1963, 1964 and 1965 bring this part of the collection to a close.

Among Du Bois' many correspondents are Jane Addams, Sherwood Anderson, Ralph Bunche, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Chesnutt, Countee Cullen, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi, W.C. Handy, Langston Hughes, William James, James Weldon Johnson, Jomo Kenyatta, Martin Luther King Jr., Claude McKay, Margaret Mead, Kwame Nkrumah, Eugene O'Neill, Sylvia Pankhurst, A. Phillip Randolph, Paul Robeson, Eleanor, Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, Arthur and Joel Spingarn, Moorfield Storey, Mary Church Terrell, Carl Van Vechten, Booker T. Washington, H.G. Wells, Walter White, and Roy Wilkins.

The analog collection of correspondence is arranged chronologically by year, and alphabetically by name of correspondent within each year. There are two major exceptions to this arrangement: (1) The correspondence from 1877 to 1910 is so sparse, compared to other years, that it has been grouped together in a single alphabetical sequence; (2) By the beginning of 1911, and lasting through 1934, Du Bois had so much correspondence as editor of The Crisis (first issue in November 1910) that Crisis correspondence has been separated into a discrete group within each year. In each of those years the General correspondence comes first, with a complete alphabet of correspondents, followed by Crisis- related correspondence in a second complete alphabet.