Among our acquisitions this past year is a first edition of W.E.B.
Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk, a
classic of American literature and perhaps the most important book by one of
the most important African Americans. Our copy is significant not only for the
work’s literary importance but also for the presence of a postcard photographic
portrait of Du Bois dated 1904, taken by a Boston photographer named Purdy,
that appears opposite the title page.
Additionally, this copy was originally owned by Horace
Bumstead, was a white Bostonian whom Du Bois referred to as the "Apostle
of Higher Education of the Negro." Bumstead was born in 1841 and was
educated at the Boston Latin School and Yale College (Class of 1863). He was
commissioned as a Major for the 43rd Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Colored
Troops in 1864. After the war he joined the faculty of Atlanta University (now
Clark Atlanta University) as an instructor in Natural Science, and went on to
become the second President of the University from 1886-1907. During his
tenure, he brought Du Bois to Atlanta University, where Du Bois founded the
Department of Sociology, and did some of his most significant scholarly work.
The historically black university had a great deal of trouble getting
appropriations from the state, and subsequently Bumstead almost single-handedly
raised the funds necessary to keep the university functioning.