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URBS 3350: Investigating the Old Seventh Ward: Home

original map of the 7th ward by DuBois


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.

A note about language:

Many of the resources on this guide will use language that is outdated, archaic, and even harmful.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.

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Social Sciences Librarian

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Sam Kirk
Van Pelt Library
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Newspapers and Periodicals

front page of the Philadelphia Tribune newspaper, January 1916


A section of plate 2 in the Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, 1895, housed on Philadelphia GeoHistory network

A section of the ward map of the city of Philadelphia, 1896

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.

Population data

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:

  • Total population
  • Total population by sex, race, and nativity (born inside or outside of the U.S.)
  • Population by age segments (e.g. school age, voting age) and by race
  • Number of dwellings and families, and dwelling type (owned, "hired")

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.

Table 23 from the 1900 census, Population by Sex, General Nativity, and Color, for Places Having 2,500 Inhabitants or More


Total Population of Philadelphia Wards, by Sections: 1860-1960. From Genealogy of Philadelphia County Subdivisions, page 98.

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.

Photographs and Infographics

City Directories

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:

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