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In November, 1897, I submitted to the American Academy of Political and Social Science a plan for the study of the Negro problems. This work is an essay along the lines there laid down, and is thus part of a larger design of observation and research into the history and social condition of the transplanted Africans.
The opportunity of making this particular study was due to the initiative of Miss Susan P. Wharton, a Philadelphia woman active in practical social reform, and to the interest and generosity of Dr. Charles Custis Harrison, Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, and other citizens of Philadelphia.
The Department of Finance and Economy (Wharton School) of the University of Pennsylvania had the general oversight of the work, and I am under many obligations to the professors in that department for assistance and counsel. Especially am I indebted to Dr. Samuel McCune Lindsay, Assistant Professor of Sociology, for aid, advice and sympathy, without which the work could hardly have been brought to a successful close.
I must also express the general sense of obligation which I feel toward the Negroes of Philadelphia, and especially toward those of the Seventh Ward, for their broad-minded attitude toward an inquiry which was at best a prying into private affairs. With no authority of law behind me, the whole success of the undertaking depended on voluntary co-operation. that they cannot be explained away by fantastic theories, I au glad that, almost without exception, there was a disposition to allow the full truth to be known for the sake of science and social reform.
1 Published in the ANNALS of the Academy for January, 1898.
Many persons have rendered me assistance in various ways during the investigation. Among these I must especially mention the Rev. Henry L. Phillips, Rector of the Church of the Crucifixion; Mr. George W. Mitchell, of the Philadelphia bar; Mr. W. Carl Bolivar, Mr. R. F. Adger, and Miss Isabel Katon, Fellow of the College Settlements Association. Mr. W. M. Dorsey kindly placed his unique scrap-books at my disposal.
As large numbers of the Philadelphia Negroes immigrate from Virginia, I spent the summer of 1897 in that State for my own enlightenment. The results of my observations were published in the Bulletin of the United States Department of Labor, for January, 1898, in a contribution entitled “The Negroes of Farmville: a Social Study." This must be regarded as a part of the present work,
It is my earnest desire to pursue this particular form of study far enough to constitute a fair basis of induction as to the present condition of the American Negro. If, for instance, Boston in the East, Chicago and perhaps Kansas City in the West, and Atlanta, New Orleans and Galveston in the South, were studied in a similar way, we should have a trustworthy picture of Negro city life. Add to this an inquiry into similarly selected country districts, and certainly our knowledge of the Negro would be greatly increased. The department of history and economics of Atlanta University, where I am now situated, is pursuing certain lines of inquiry in this general direction. I hope that funds may be put at our disposal for this larger and more complete scheme.
Finally, let me add that I trust that this study with all its errors and shortcomings will at least serve to emphasize the fact that the Negro problems are problems of human beings;
ungrounded assumptions or metaphysical subtleties. They present a field which the student must enter seriously, and cultivate carefully and honestly. And until he has prepared the ground by intelligent and discriminating research, the labors of philanthropist and statesman must continue to be, to a large extent, barren and unfruitful.
W. E. BURGHARDT Du Bois. Atlanta University,
June rst, 1899.