W.E.B. Du Bois' Hand-Drawn Infographics Illustrate Trends Among Black Americans in 1990s

Feb 15, 2017

EARLY INFOGRAPHICS: The 1990 World’s Fair drew many to see the latest technology and cultural displays from around the globe. Amongst the telescopes, electric gadgets and 80,000 other exhibits was one that was relatively low-tech—albeit far ahead of its time: a data-driven project commissioned by renowned sociologist, author and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois.

Quartz revisited the collection this week, calling attention to Du Bois’ The Georgia Negro—a series of 60 hand-drawn graphs, charts and infographics made by his students at (Clark) Atlanta University. The work appeared in the 1990 World's Fair as part of the “The Exhibit of American Negroes” which hand-illustrated African Americans’ contributions to the U.S. economy just 35 years after slavery was abolished. While sharing a glimpse of the past, pieces like “The Amalgamation of the White and Black Elements of the Population in the United States” or “Assessed Value of Household and Kitchen Furniture Owned by Georgia Negroes” remarkably reflect—or perhaps indicated—the kinds of data-informed graphics advertisers, researchers and storytellers rely on today.

W.E.B. Du Bois' Hand-Drawn Infographics Illustrate Trends Among Black Americans in 1990s

Feb 15, 2017

EARLY INFOGRAPHICS: The 1990 World’s Fair drew many to see the latest technology and cultural displays from around the globe. Amongst the telescopes, electric gadgets and 80,000 other exhibits was one that was relatively low-tech—albeit far ahead of its time: a data-driven project commissioned by renowned sociologist, author and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois.

Quartz revisited the collection this week, calling attention to Du Bois’ The Georgia Negro—a series of 60 hand-drawn graphs, charts and infographics made by his students at (Clark) Atlanta University. The work appeared in the 1990 World's Fair as part of the “The Exhibit of American Negroes” which hand-illustrated African Americans’ contributions to the U.S. economy just 35 years after slavery was abolished. While sharing a glimpse of the past, pieces like “The Amalgamation of the White and Black Elements of the Population in the United States” or “Assessed Value of Household and Kitchen Furniture Owned by Georgia Negroes” remarkably reflect—or perhaps indicated—the kinds of data-informed graphics advertisers, researchers and storytellers rely on today.

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