Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois Activity


U.S. History, African American History in the post Reconstruction era. Recommended for students in grades 9-12.


Students will be able to:

  • Identify the arguments of both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois with regards to the education of African Americans
  • Practice visual literacy skills (observation, deduction) by analyzing historical photographs
  • Practice digital and library research skills


Library and online resource material, access to the Jackson Davis Collection.


  • Homework assignment:

    Have students conduct research on both Washington and DuBois. Suggest encyclopedia, online and library resources.

  • Discuss the views of both Washington and DuBois. Identify their goals and the manner in which they tried to achieve their “plan” for education. Define industrial education, academic education, “talented tenth”, etc. Discuss Tuskegee Institute, Hampton Institute, Clark Atlanta University, Shaw University etc. Do not oversimplify this discussion. Allow students to share their questions and research findings with the class.
  • In groups of two or three, brainstorm possible search fields to locate images on the Jackson Davis Collection search page that could provide a visual explanation of the educational debate.
  • Have students choose 2-4 images that they feel document and represent both sides of the educational debate facing African Americans in the early 20th century. “Read” the photos for clues (see suggested questions here) and provide a clear reason for choosing the photos you do. Back your choices up with your knowledge of the debate and your use of observational and deductive skills.
  • Have students synthesize their work by presenting a one-paragraph caption for each photograph in their documentary collection. Have students present their photographic slideshow and captions to the class.



Students should be evaluated based on:

  • Choice of photographs.
  • Ability to justify choices.
  • Research, ability to synthesize data, and display understanding of the facts.