Du Bois Central (Special Collections & University Archives)
Resources on the life and legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois
Special Collections & University Archives
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Excavating at the Homesite
Excavating at the Homesite

The W.E.B. Du Bois Boyhood Homesite in Great Barrington, Massachusetts is a National Register and National Landmark site owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Today, it is approximately five acres of woodlot and open field, but from the early 1800s up to the mid-1900s it was a home and place of work for Du Bois’ maternal relatives, the Burghardt family. Du Bois owned the site from his sixtieth birthday in 1928 until the mid-1950s, using it as a country cottage in the town of his birth.

In 1983 members of the University of Massachusetts Anthropology and Afro-American Studies Departments began archaeological, historical and oral history investigations of this property and the residents of the Homesite. Two seasons of archaeological research uncovered evidence for a working farm and a retreat in the over 10,000 artifacts found at the site. Oral histories were taken from members of the Burghardt family and from town historians in Great Barrington. Public records in Great Barrington and documents from the Du Bois Papers at the University helped to identify who lived on the site and something about their activites and plans.

In the future, the Homesite will be the focus of further archaeological investigations. These and the associated documentary studies will provide information on the African-American community that nurtured the young Du Bois, information that will be used in planning commemorative buildings and exhibits at the W.E.B. Du Bois Boyhood Homesite.

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