W. E. B. Du Bois and the house of the Black Burghardts: Land, family and African Americans in New England
Between 1795 and 1954 the Black Burghardt family, maternal relatives of international figure W. E. B. Du Bois, owned homes and land in Great Barrington, MA. This ownership included Du Bois from 1928 to 1954.
The Black Burghardts did not originally choose to settle in Great Barrington; they were placed there by political, economic, and social forces beyond their control. Many, in this large family, used their property as a place of residence and as a site for household and even market oriented production. They also used the land as collateral for financial transactions.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Du Bois sought to document the long history of his family in Great Barrington. At least six generations can be traced in the various public documents and family documents. Approaching the history of an African American family from the point of view of land ownership has little precedent. Few 18th and 19 th century houses owned and occupied by African Americans are known nor have they been extensively studied. There are even fewer sources which concentrate on land and house ownership by individual African American families in rural New England. This dissertation adds to the work started by Du Bois and offers insight into the meaning that home and land ownership had to an African American family in rural New England over a period of 150 years.
0325: African Americans
0337: American history