Publishing its first issue in December 1905, The Moon Illustrated Weekly was founded and edited by Du Bois. The magazine was not only the first illustrated weekly produced for African Americans, it was also Du Bois’s first effort at editing a national magazine. The experience was short lived, however, with only thirty-four issues produced in total from the end of 1905 through July or early August of 1906. Out of these issues only four issues survived. As the rarest African American periodical of the twentieth century, a sense of the magazine can be derived by the few copies that remain. Issues focused on the people, places, and events of interest to African American communities in the U.S., while also taking a more international perspective with articles on happenings in South Africa, Liberia, and Barbados.
With the quick failure of the magazine, likely due to the cost of producing it and the effort on the small staff of publishing it, Du Bois moved on to another editorial endeavor; this time editing the Horizon, a journal he continued to oversee until 1910 when he accepted the directorship of the NAACP. There he founded and edited The Crisis, which at its peak circulated to more than 200,000 homes. Despite the fact that The Moon Illustrated Weekly was a short-lived publication, its format and content is often cited as a precursor to The Crisis.