This guide provides links to primary resources connected to Philadelphia's old Seventh Ward, which was the subject of a revolutionary sociological study of the Black population of Philadelphia in the late 19th century, conducted by W. E. B. Du Bois. The guide is divided into resources by type, including newspapers, maps, books, directories, population tables, and photographs.
Many of the resources on this guide will use language that is outdated, archaic, and even harmful. These resources are included because they are invaluable for studying the context of the time. For example, the Philadelphia Colored Business Directory has the great potential to provide insight into Black business domains and proprietors in the late 19th and early 20th century in Philadelphia, despite using a term in the title which is unacceptable in modern language. If you have any questions or concerns about the use of language on this guide, please contact the librarian.
Ward map of City of Philadelphia, 1896. From Genealogy of Philadelphia County Subdivisions, page 77.
Books written in the late 19th century and early 20th century about Black life in Philadelphia are primary resources -- written at the time of study. Use Franklin advanced search filters to locate works written within a certain time period (e.g. 1880-1910). Explore relevant subject headings, such as "African Americans--Philadelphia (Pa.)".
Example subject heading keyword search for "African Americans" AND Philadelphia, limited to dates 1850-1910.
The U.S. Census is carried out every 10 years in an attempt to document the population count of the United States. Using specific population tables, you could find information about the Seventh Ward including:
For detailed U.S. Census data for Philadelphia wards, open the Historical Census guide and scroll down to the box labelled "Small-Area Historical Census Statistics." For each census, consult specific tables of interest. For example, for the 1900 Census, Table 23 includes population counts by race and is broken down by Philadelphia ward.
Total Population of Philadelphia Wards, by Sections: 1860-1960. From Genealogy of Philadelphia County Subdivisions, page 98. The Seventh Ward is listed as having 28,137 people in 1900.
City directories list the people and organizations in a particular area. Several city directories served the city of Philadelphia during the 19th and early 20th centuries, including McElroy's, Byram's, Boyd's, and the Social Register. Many of these directories were scanned for microfilm and are housed at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, and in the rare book collections at Penn Libraries. Some are online, but most will involve a trip to a local archive.
Specific examples of city directories of potential interest: