Musings on all things typography and design.


Infographics… in 1900?


One of the most powerful examples of data visualization was made 118 years ago by an all-black team led by W.E.B. Du Bois only 37 years after the end of slavery in the United States. “The Exhibit of American Negroes” was a sociological display at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris and was a collaboration by noted African-American sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois, educator and social leader Booker T Washington, prominent lawyer Thomas J. Calloway along with students from Atlanta University. Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts in 1868, Du Bois studied at Fisk University, Humboldt University in Berlin, and Harvard (where he was the first African American to earn a doctorate), and in 1897 he became a professor of history, sociology and economics at Atlanta University. Although separate from the main United States national building of the Paris Exposition, “The Exhibit of American Negroes” occupied one fourth of the total exhibition space allocated to the US in the multinational Palace of Social Economy and Congresses, and an estimated 50 million people passed through during the 7 months it was up. The Exposition Universelle featured a total of fifty-eight stunning hand-drawn charts (a selection of which we present below). Created by Du Bois and his students at Atlanta, the charts, many of which focus on economic life in Georgia, managed to condense an enormous amount of data into a set of aesthetically daring and easily digestible visualizations. ~ The Public Domain Review, Data Journalism in the study of W.E.B. Du Bois and Wikipedia

cody dennison