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Letter from W. E. B. Du Bois to George Frisbie Hoar, 7 November 1895

Wilberforce Univ., Green Co., Ohio

Senator Geo. F. Hoar,

Sir:

Will you kindly al-
low me to solicit your good offices in
my behalf! I am a Negro, 28 years of
age, born in Massachusetts (Gt. Barring-
ton, Berkshire co.); I was educated at
Fisk University, Nashville Tenn., at Har-
vard (class of ’90) and at Berlin, Germany.
I am at present professor of latin & Greek
at Wilberforce Univ. My special line of
work, however, for which I have the degree
of Ph. D. from Harvard, is History and Soc-
ial Science. In my present situation I am
not teaching my specialty, have no library
for use, and I fear the institution is
not one which has a growing future be-
fore it. My wish therefore is to get into
some position which will allow me a
chance to do real, solid, scientific work
in my line. It seems to me that the

Negro people need to be studied, and need
themselves to study, in just the line in
which I am interested – that only by
careful, long, and earnest scientific
investigation will the way toward a
solution of our “problem” be pointed out.. In
entering upon this work, however, you
will, I think, realize how I am handi-
capped: My color would shut me out
of white institutions as a teacher, and no Negro school
has such a department such I as I would
like to take charge of, and upbuild; I
have thought that the city of Washington
offered perhaps the best first field for
work of this kind, and consequently
I wish to apply for a position either
at Howard University or in the Wash-
ington public schools: believing that
once established there, amid library facil-
ities, and an educated constituency, I might
do work worth doing.

I know, Sir, that you have much
influence in regard to such appointments:
May I ask you carefully to consider my
testimonials, or to demand any farther in-
formation from myself, the authorities at
Harvard, as at my hal home – and
if you are convinced that I am a proper
and fit person, will you not use
your influence to procure me a po-
sition either in Howard University
or in the Washington Colored High
School? I can teach preparatory studies,
or latin, Greek and German, or the Sci-
ences; I am willing to teach any of
these branches, and only ask to be
allowed gradually to build up a
department of history and social sci-
ence.

I know, of course, that I have
no claim upon an entire stranger
to ask so great a favor: I was led

to do so, nevertheless, by your high
position in my native state, and by
my acquainceship with a beneficiary
of yours, Mr. W. F. Jackson of the Washing-
ton schools. I trust you will pardon
my boldness, and, at your leisure,
write me your opinion.

I am, Sir,
Respectfully Yours,
W. E. B. DuBois

7 November, 1895

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