The Exhibit of American Negroes


  • African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition -

    Du Bois Materials - Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (Library of Congress)

    Ce lien pointe sur une époustouflante collection d’images, de figures, de photographies qui ont été réunies par #W.E.B_Du_Bois lui même, pour l’exposition "« The American Negro » présenté à Paris en 1900 lors de l’exposition universelle.

    At the turn of the century, W. E. B. Du Bois compiled a series of photographs for the “American Negro” exhibit at the 1900 Paris Exposition. He organized the 363 images into albums, entitled Types of American Negroes, Georgia, U.S.A. and Negro Life in Georgia, U.S.A..

    At the time, Du Bois was a professor of sociology at Atlanta University, committed to combating racism with empirical evidence of the economic, social, and cultural conditions of African Americans. He believed that a clear revelation of the facts of African American life and culture would challenge the claims of biological race scientists influential at the time, which proposed that African Americans were inherently inferior to Anglo-Americans. The photographs of affluent young African American men and women challenged the scientific “evidence” and popular racist caricatures of the day that ridiculed and sought to diminish African American social and economic success. Further, the wide range of hair styles and skin tones represented in the photographs demonstrated that the so-called “Negro type” was in fact a diverse group of distinct individuals. The one public statement Du Bois made concerning these photographs was that visitors to the American Negro exhibit would find "several volumes of photographs of typical Negro faces, which hardly square with conventional American ideas."1

    Du Bois’s work for the American Negro exhibit was extensive and much praised. In the Spring of 1900, Paris Exposition judges awarded him a gold medal for his role as “collaborator” and “compiler” of materials for the exhibit.

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