The Philadelphia Negro

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The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study
Du Bois, W. E. B..jpg
Country United States
Language English
Publisher University of Pennsylvania Press
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback)
Pages 520
LC Class PF158.9.N3 D8 1899

The Philadelphia Negro is a sociological study of African Americans in Philadelphia written by W. E. B. Du Bois. Commissioned by the University of Pennsylvania and published in 1899 with the intent of identifying social problems present in the African American community. It was the first sociological case study of a black community in the United States[1] and one of the earliest examples of sociology as a statistically based social science. Du Bois gathered information for the study in the period between August 1896 and December 1896.[2]

In The Philadelphia Negro, Du Bois intended to identify Philadelphia Blacks' sociologically relevant social issues. He deduced that, "the Negro problem looked at in one way is but the old world questions of ignorance, poverty, crime, and the dislike of the stranger." He supports these claims with examples and survey analysis breakdowns throughout the journal.

Philadelphia Negro Problem Identification[edit]

In the 1890's the Negro population in Philadelphia was afflicted with many of the problems seen across the U.S. in areas of low socioeconomic status.[3] Crime, poverty and drug addiction are of the many issues that the Philadelphia Negro population dealt with that added to the apparent social blight of community.[4]

Survey Conduct[edit]

In order to collect survey data, Du Bois moved into the 7th ward of Philadelphia and distributed the survey himself. He conducted over 2500 interviews and gathered data regarding the African-American population within the city. Some of the survey data he found included, a census number of Black individuals within the city, information about their places of birth, occupation, the age of the respondent, the sex of the respondent, etc.[5]

Possible Solutions[edit]

Du Bois ends his study with a section entitled "The Meaning of All of This." In this section he explains how the overarching dilemma that Negros in America faced laid in their image in the eyes of the majority of Americans. By changing how Blacks are preceived in America, from inferior to equally capable, many of the problems seen in the Black community would subside. Du Bois documents that if change is expected to occur in Philadelphia's Black communities, both the Black and White communities must work in tandem. He assigns responsibilities for Blacks and Whites in this section.

Contemporary recognition[edit]

In spring 2008, Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program, in partnership with The Ward project,[6] memorialized the history of The Philadelphia Negro with the mural Mapping Courage on the side of Engine Company 11's building at S 6th Street and South Street. The company was one of the original 22 fire companies established by Philadelphia's first paid municipal fire department in 1871. Until the Philadelphia Fire Department officially desegregated in 1952, Engine 11 was Philadelphia's de facto African American firehouse. The company's original building at 1016 South Street still stands and belongs to the Waters Memorial African Methodist Church.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Horne, Gerald (2010). W. E. B. Du Bois: A Biography. Greenwood Press. pp. 23–24. ISBN 978-0-313-34979-9. 
  2. ^ Du Bois, W. E. B. The Philadelphia Negro. New York: Cosimo, 2010, pg. 1.
  3. ^ "Philadelphia Negro - Chapter 2 - W.E.B. DuBois". Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  4. ^ "Philadelphia Negro - Chapter 2 - W.E.B. DuBois". Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  5. ^ "Philadelphia Negro - Chapter 9, Section 23 - W.E.B. DuBois". Retrieved 2017-04-26. 
  6. ^ "The Ward Mural". Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Melissa Mandel. "Engine Company No. 11". PhilaPlace. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 

External links[edit]