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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of English and American Studies

W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, one of the leading figures in twentieth-century sociology, history, journalism, literature and civil rights activism, studied at what is now Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in the years 1892-1894. His stay in Berlin and his studies with German economists, sociologists, and historians proved very influential for his thinking. Du Bois became the author of such seminal works as The Souls of Black Folk (1903), the editor of The Crisis (1920-1934), and the co-founder of both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP, 1909) and the Fifth Pan-African Congress (1945). In 1958, Humboldt-Universität awarded him an honorary doctorate.

For over twenty years, the American Studies Program has honored Du Bois’s legacy at Humboldt-Universität through two lecture series: the W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures and the Distinguished W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures. Until now, there has been no visible tribute to him on the university grounds. We are proud to announce that a plaque will be installed on the main building's ground floor (next to the entrance to the Orbis Humboldtianus).

Du Bois is the first U.S.-American and the first Person of Color to be honored by Humboldt-Universität; he is also the first person to be honored as a former student.



Preliminary Draft (2) by Jean-Ulrick Désert
Picture: Preliminary Draft by Jean-Ulrick Désert


We are very pleased that internationally acclaimed artist Jean-Ulrick Désert has agreed to design the plaque. About the Artist.


Work in Progress Presentation (as at October 2019) on VIMEO

In-progress design development of the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial installation for Humboldt University's main building as presented by the artist, Jean-Ulrick Désert, on 15 October 2019 (no audio). Picture rights: Van Vechten Trust (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University) & The Department of Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts




Support Commemorating W.E.B. Du Bois

Your donation can help to commemorate W.E.B. Du Bois permanently in the university‘s main building.


In order to install the plaque at Humboldt-Universität we set an initial goal of 10.000 €. To reach our goal of 10.000 €, we kindly ask you for your contribution.

Donation account:

Bank: Deutsche Bank PGK AG
Account Holder: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
IBAN: DE95 1007 0848 0512 6206 01
VAT ID no.: DE 137176824
5250150102 Du Bois [your name]


If you want to send a check, please make it payable to Humboldt-Universität Berlin and send it to:

Dr. Dorothea Löbbermann (Room 2001 c)
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin


Donors will be mentioned on this website if they wish.






Opening Ceremony

Date t.b.a.

(most likely in late spring of 2020)



W.E.B. Du Bois in Berlin



W.E.B. Du Bois Memorials in the World



Contact us if you know of other W.E.B. Du Bois memorial sights, lecture series, centers and of course if you would like to start an academic exchange or collaboration with us.



Prof. Dr. Eva Boesenberg
Prof. Dr. Elahe Haschemi Yekani
Dr. Dorothea Löbbermann
Prof. Dr. Martin Klepper

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Institut für Anglisktik und Amerikanistik
Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin

phone: +49 (0) 30 2093 2766


An initiative of the American Studies Program.