Standard Ebooks

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. Du Bois


When it was first published in 1903, W. E. B Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk represented a seismic shift in the discussion of race in the United States. Earlier African-American authors had broken ground with memoirs and autobiographical novels—narrative works that portrayed the African-American experience through the stories of particular individuals. What Du Bois envisioned was a work that portrayed the experience of African Americans as a people.

As a professor of sociology, Du Bois naturally gravitated toward a scientific and scholarly approach. But he was also becoming, to his own surprise, a political activist, and found himself increasingly disenchanted with purely intellectual arguments when his fellow African Americans were being lynched, starved, and driven from their land. What emerged from this tension between scholarly rigor and righteous indignation was a book that became a seminal text for both sociology and for the civil rights movement.

The fourteen essays in this book weave together historical research, sociological analysis, first-hand reportage, political argument, and an enduring, aspirational belief in the possibility of America. Many of the ideas that Du Bois introduced in the book have become mainstays of modern discourse, including the “veil of race” and the concept of double consciousness. These insights, originally rooted in race, have proven resonant to a wide range of other marginalized groups and have provided a useful framework for understanding the nature of oppression and the path to liberation.

Read free

This ebook is thought to be free of copyright restrictions in the United States. It may still be under copyright in other countries. If you’re not located in the United States, you must check your local laws to verify that this ebook is free of copyright restrictions in the country you’re located in before accessing, downloading, or using it.

Download for ereaders

Read online

A brief history of this ebook

  1. Update word count in metadata

  2. Update accessibility boilerplate

  3. Update Onix file boilerplate

  4. Update metadata boilerplate

  5. Update core.css to new standards

More details



Page scans

Improve this ebook

Anyone can contribute to make a Standard Ebook better for everyone!

To report typos, typography errors, or other corrections, see how to report errors.

If you’re comfortable with technology and want to contribute directly, check out this ebook’s GitHub repository and our contributors section.

You can also donate to Standard Ebooks to help fund continuing improvement of this and other ebooks.