Anthony Starks version 1.1 (2023-03-18)
W.E.B. Du Bois Visualization
Table of Contents
Exposition of the American Negro, 1900 Paris Exposition
To help designers, artists, developers, and scholars seeking to implement
or study the “Du Bois Style”, this document describes aspects of the
visualizations created by W. E. B Du Bois' team for the 1900 Paris
To learn more see “W.E.B Du Bois's Data Portraits Visualizing Black
America” . by Whitney Battle-Baptise and Britt Rusert and the
Library of Congress collection “African American Photographs Assembled
for 1900 Paris Exposition” .
The sources above use plate numbers to indicate the visuals, this
document users the same convention.
Bars (53%) Maps (16%) Circles (14%)
Blocks (12%) Line Graphs (5%)
The approximately 60 visuals produced for the 1900 Exposition fall
into these categories: bar charts (30), maps (9), visuals with circular
features (7), visuals using large blocks of color (8), and line graphs
(3). The visuals also use bold primary colors and abstract forms prior
to modernist movements developed later in the twentieth century.
Plate 3 Plate 39 Plate 19
Plate 17 Plate 26
Plate 62 
The most prevalent type of visualization is bar charts. Some are conventional
bar charts with labels on the left, using a single color, with the values
sorted. Red tends to be the dominate color for this type, although
other colors like gray, yellow and green are also used. In one case
the bars echo the shape of its subject – the state of Georgia (plate
There are three cases (plates 17, 26 and 62) where a bar is wrapped
spanning 2-3 vertical lines.
Plate 23 Plate 14
An unconventional use of bars is a “woven” pattern of two contrasting
colors (indicating two cities, plate 23.). The weave is used in plate
14 where the timeline is woven with the measure of literacy.
Another bar chart type uses 1-3 vertical bars to describe proportion
indicated by 2-3 solid colors (plates 13 and 50). In one case, plate
60, the bar is tilted 45 degrees.
Plate 5 Plate 8 Plate 42
The second most prevalent type of visual is the map; the majority
of these use US state or Georgia county boundaries filled with color
indicating some measure such as population distribution (plates
2, 5, 6, and 8). The maps include colored legends with circles of
color to denote the categories. The political outlines may also be
labeled with other indicia such as arrows and measures. (plates 8,
20) Two of the maps (plates 41, 42) use filled and outline shapes
to compare the US with other countries.
Plate 11 Plate 25
Plate 37 Plate 27 Plate 22
Several charts use circular elements; notable are the spirals in plates
11 and 25 (often highlighted when showing the Du Bois visuals).
The spirals are used to indicate large measures; instead of stretching
out the lines as in a conventional bar chart, the measures are rolled
up in a spiral.
Other uses of circles include conventional pie charts (plate 37), and
the “fan” chart (plates 27). A novel “target chart” uses concentric
circles with wedge-shaped pointers to the center.
Plate 51 Plate 53 Plate 54
Bold blocks of color are used in several charts, for example, area
graphs in plates 51, 53, 54:
Some visuals use geometric (rectangular, triangular, pyramidal)
blocks (plates 57, 55, 61)
Plate 7 Plate 21
Only three of the visuals use the traditional line chart. Two of the
three use red grid lines (plates 7, 21). The line graphs have annotations,
often with rotated text. Plate 7 in unusual: the usual convention
of time on x-axis with values on the y axis is reversed.
As displayed in Paris exposition, the Du Bois visualizations were
large format, 22x28 inch posters, mostly in portrait orientation. (exceptions
are plates 30 and 31). To duplicate this layout, use a aspect ratio
of approximately 0.78 (portrait) or 1.27 (landscape). For example
setting your canvas to 1584x2016 pixels, at 72 pixels/inch, will duplicate
the original canvas. Alternatively smaller sizes can be used preserving
the aspect ratio.
Plate 1 title Plate 60 title
Each visual includes a title: typically hand-lettered, sans-serif bold,
centered all-caps with a period at the end. The titles may span 2-3
lines and its size of typically 3%-4% if the overall width. In some
a smaller serif font is used.
To duplicate using modern tools, Public Sans  and Charter 
may be used for sans-serif and serif fonts, respectively. Other choices
are B52-ULC W00  for titles and Vasarely-Light  for running
text. The font DU BOIS  from Vocal Type was specifically designed
to pay homage to the Du Bois visualizations
Plate 27 legend Plate 60 legend
Plate 5 legend
Several visuals use colored legends (plate 2, plates 5-6, 37,38, 60).
The legends usually use an outlined circle of color, (except for plate
2), and may be horizontal or vertically oriented.
Plate 1 annotation
Plate 21 annotation
Plate 31 annotation
Plate 40 annotation
Many visualizations include commentary and annotations, which
are typically done in a lighter weight and color. All text is in ALL-CAPS.
Annotations are also used to clarify the message of the visual display,
(often using rotated text)
Bold solid colors are characteristic of the Du Bois style. To maintain
consistency in your designs, here is a Du Bois-style color palette.
Note the use of the Pan-African colors  (used 20 years before they
were defined). Black, brown, and gold are used to indicate racial
makeup in plates 1, 13, and 54. Plates 12, 50, and 51 use black to
indicate slavery, and green for freedom.
Color RGB Hex
 1900 Paris Exposition
 W.E.B Du Bois Data Portraits Visualizing Black America
 African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition
 Public Sans Font
 Charter Font
 B-52 ULC Font
 Vasarely-Light Font
 DU BOIS Font
 Pan African Colors
 Du Bois Original Plate Catalog