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Barnes, Harry Elmer (15 June 1889–25 August 1968), historian and sociologist, was born on a farm near Auburn, New York, the son of William Henry Barnes, Jr., a farmer, teacher, and later a prison guard, and Lulu C. Short. After graduating from high school in 1906, Barnes spent several years as a construction laborer and principal of a two-room village school in Montezuma, a small canal town in central New York. From 1909 to 1913 he attended Syracuse University, from which he graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in history. From 1913 to 1915 Barnes was instructor in sociology and economics at Syracuse, which awarded him an M.A. for work on the development of social philosophy from Plato to Comte. From 1915 to 1917 he was a graduate student at Columbia University, during which time he held a fellowship that allowed him to research at Harrow University from fall 1916 through early spring 1917, and in the subsequent academic year he taught at Columbia and Barnard. In 1918 he received a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University; his dissertation focused on the history of the New Jersey prison system. In 1916 he married Grace Stone; they had one child. After divorcing Stone eleven years later, he married Jean Hutchison Newman in 1935....

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W. E. B. Du Bois Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1946. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-42528).

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Du Bois, W. E. B. (23 February 1868–27 August 1963), African-American activist, historian, and sociologist, was born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the son of Mary Silvina Burghardt, a domestic worker, and Alfred Du Bois, a barber and itinerant laborer. In later life Du Bois made a close study of his family origins, weaving them rhetorically and conceptually—if not always accurately—into almost everything he wrote. Born in Haiti and descended from Bahamian mulatto slaves, Alfred Du Bois enlisted during the Civil War as a private in a New York regiment of the Union army but appears to have deserted shortly afterward. He also deserted the family less than two years after his son’s birth, leaving him to be reared by his mother and the extended Burghardt kin. Long resident in New England, the Burghardts descended from a freedman of Dutch slave origin who had fought briefly in the American Revolution. Under the care of his mother and her relatives, young Will Du Bois spent his entire childhood in that small western Massachusetts town, where probably fewer than two-score of the 4,000 inhabitants were African American. He received a classical, college preparatory education in Great Barrington’s racially integrated high school, from whence, in June 1884, he became the first African-American graduate. A precocious youth, Du Bois not only excelled in his high school studies but contributed numerous articles to two regional newspapers, the Springfield ...