W.E.B. Du Bois: Acres of Land Owned

A piece that Du Bois created from “The Georgia Negro” series that was made to be showcased at the World Fair in Paris was the Acres of Land Owned by Negroes in Georgia. Because of the strict time constraints presented by the exhibition date, Du Bois and his team hand painted with water color on thick card stock. Also limited by the color palates availabe by George C. Osbourne, Du Bois’ color choices are vibrant and saturated with primary colors. With these limitations came creative brilliance that resulted in charts marked with a dinstinctly artistic flair absent from scientific work. They were influenced by the “Golden Age of Statistical Grahics” — a small period between 1850 and 1900 when their was an exponential growth of graphical methods. The point of the “Acres of Land Owned by Negroes in Georgia” was and is to signify the dramatic increase in the number of acres of land. Du Bois wanted to present this significant accomplishment of African Americans in Georgia as a direct statement against the isolation and segregation still experienced and enforced at this time. The poster that resulted is a bar graph that not only shows the 213.5% increase in acres of land owned, but is also drawn so that the graph is in the shape of the state of Georgia itself. This visualization, while representing the growth of landownership, also seems to convey the message that the entire state consists of African American landowners. This simple, yet effective graph, born out of the limited and modest resources availabe, and a need to reach the scientific minds present at the World Fair, strikes a shokingly modern looking graph.