W.E.B. Du Bois and the Seventh Ward

In 1896, W.E.B. Du Bois, 28, came to Penn at the invitation of Provost Charles Harrison to begin work on what would become his groundbreaking book, “The Philadelphia Negro.”

Du Bois-story

Du Bois-story

In 1896, W.E.B. Du Bois, 28, came to Penn at the invitation of Provost Charles Harrison to begin work on what would become his groundbreaking book, “The Philadelphia Negro.”

On Aug. 1, 1896, he began conducting a house-to-house canvas of the Seventh Ward—which extended from South 7th Street to the Schuylkill River, and from Spruce to South streets. By the time he was finished, he had spoken to at least 5,000 people.

In this edition of By The Numbers, we detail some of the characteristics of the Seventh Ward.

9,675Number of African Americans in the city’s Seventh Ward in 1896, as counted by Du Bois.
54.3Percent of black residents in the ward who were born in the South, primarily Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware.
1,150Number of black women in the ward, to every 1,000 black men.
5Number of African-American police officers in the ward.
12.17Percent of African Americans in the ward who were totally illiterate in 1896, compared to 44 percent in 1850.
48Percent of black families in the ward who earned, on average, between $5 and $10 per week, in 1896 dollars. Nineteen percent earned $5 or less.
$1,000,000Total estimated value, in 1896 dollars, of the real estate owned by the 197 black families in the ward who were property owners.
1Number of black pilots in the ward. There were also six black actors and one black female prizefighter.

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