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Tapestry Conference 2018
November 29, 2018, Miami, FL, USA
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The Data Visualizations of W.E.B. Du Bois
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About the talk

At the 1900 Paris Exposition an African-American team lead by W.E.B. Du Bois sought to challenge and recontextualize the understanding of the “Negro” in America. In 5 months, his team conducted the sociological research and hand-made more than 60 large data visualizations for a massive European audience which ultimately awarded Du Bois a gold medal for his efforts. The ramification of this work remains challenging to this day.

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Jason Forrest
Data Visualization Specialist at McKinsey & Co.
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Hello, hello. Hot. Mike at Mike Hi everybody. I'm Jason Forrest. I'm a musician. Designer startup founder, technologist, father, and former art critic. That's me. If they are performing in front of few thousand screaming teenagers at the pooka Pop Festival in Belgium back in 2004. By the way, I really am playing a concert my first show in Miami tomorrow so I'll put the information on Twitter. If anybody wants to come, it's with my friend Otto von schirach, I guarantee you, it'll be the craziest party you've ever been to. So I work as a data,

visualization specialist in ux designer at Mackenzie on the people analytics and measurements team. We are group of 30 data scientist business analyst developers and one designer has been with my time building user-centered dashboards with our Shining. I first encountered The Bee Gee boys data visualizations in a book about typography, earlier this year and it become your obsessed and researching and learning about his work in order to help contribute to the telling of the story, been a remarkable Journey one that I was completely unprepared for the before. I start, I need to say that the

word negro will appear frequently in his talk. It's not a word. I take lightly. It's a turn to Boise's throughout the space with career and think it's best to honor and contextualize his use of language. Okay? So is that let's jump in? The 1900 Paris Exposition was created to celebrate the achievements of the nineteenth century and sought to accelerate innovation in the next. As you can see, the Eiffel Tower was officially premiered at the 1900 Expedition. Despite being completed and celebrated the year before, the fair was visited by nearly 50 million people and displayed many

inventions for the first time. Including the ferris wheel, the diesel engine dies, the escalator and the first talking films since the Expeditions focus on scientific invention. It also featured a closer look at the social sciences as well and that's where we'll find the exhibit of American Negroes which was house and the Palace of social economy, which if I had a laser pointer, I would say, is kind of by one of those bridges up there, note to self bring laser pointer One of the most powerful examples of data visualization with made 118 Years Ago by an African-American

team led by W. B, the boys only 37 years after the end of slavery in the United States. The exhibit was composed of roughly 60 charts, 500 photographs, a collection of over a thousand books, by African-American authors and materials collected by the five Great negro schools of Atlanta Fisk, Howard Hampton, Inn to ski to universities, The idea for the exhibit, first came from Thomas Callaway a classmate of Dubois from Fisk University in 1895 he wrote to over a hundred African American leaders, including the boys and Booker T Washington, a plan, with crafted along with Daniel

Murray, this is my brain Congress. Who is this a laser pointer? It is cool. And I have to go play with the laser pointer. Where is it? Where is it? Where is it? It's right about there or I can go on it. Blue laser pointer. So I'll plan was crafted along with Daniel Marie the assistant librarian of Congress and the team was awarded $15,000 from the US Congress only four months before. The opening of the exist at exhibition. The boys with the obvious choice to lead the effort as Chief curator and it began to quit the compile, the work on December 28th, 1899 with his students from Atlanta

University. The first African-American. All right, the first African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard, the boys studied and traveled in Europe before ultimately Landing. His first academic job. At the University of Philadelphia desperate to help the plight of the African American population. He quickly turned to the social sciences in an attempt to collect compelling, evidence needed for cultural change. The boys was in this article in its approach and try to incorporate the latest scientific standards. In 1899 this led to the Watershed work, the Philadelphia negro

compiled nearly by himself two boys. Personally, conducted 5000 interviews to complete study. Here's a spread in the book which shows some of his data visualizations, clearly focusing on the scientific presentation of a statistical data. The boys was very ambitious that year. He outlined a 10-year study of the American Negro the work he made. For the Paris, Exposition was to be a continuation of the Philadelphia negro and he can't in he conducted studies in Georgia and Virginia at the same time. The resulting exhibition was more than just a scientific report.

It was a targeted attempt to sway the world's Elite to acknowledge the American Negro in an effort to influence cultural change in the unit in the United States from abroad. The charts in the exhibition are arranged to tell a story with data that presents. A complex picture of a people, their struggle and perseverance, despite More Than A Century of slavery. The boys are going to charge to explore the data on three levels international national and local the data visualizations. In the exhibit are split into two sections. The Georgia negro

Which focuses on a typical state of Georgia, which has the second largest African American population. Virginia, by the way, have the largest, but he'll also have the highest negro to white ratio. The other section is called a series of statistical chart, illustrating the condition of the descendants of former African slaves. Now, in residence, in the United States of America, which focuses on the national International view of the data, the exact sequence of went to voicemail, the chart is not entirely known but the Library of Congress. Have the Georgia negro as the first of the

two. As I've seen some of the works, a second series often have printed titles, which means they were likely created later. So, let's dig into work. What you're looking at is a chart that shows a smaller 7.5 million populated all negro America in comparison to 10 other countries all drawn in proportion to their population. The boys makes a comparison in terms of nationhood, clearly inferring, the existence of an independent black state that exists as an equivalent to the larger Nations, like Spain, England, and hungry. You'll notice that the chart is an English and French

so that the widest group of exposition guests can read the labels and also note be done by Atlanta University is clearly prominent This is from the second series and you notice the printed title, the top of the chart. If there's a breakout idea to challenge, the status quo is the saint finding by Dubois. When can I was here a surprise when he wrote, quote negro literacy is less than that of Russia and only equal to that of Hungary. When Negroes were synonymous with being uneducated, the boys shows that several European countries had a higher literacy rate. He's literally saying to the

audience at the Paris. Exposition, are we really so different than you? The finality of this one word title, illiteracy speaks volumes. The. At the end of the title help to underscore the severity of the statement from the Georgia negro Series. This chart is an unusual plotting of Time Versus rate with time on the vertical and bars extending from each access to form a sort of the lattice. The boys is only telling part of this larger story on this chart as the white, A literacy rate in 1900 was only 6.2% but the boys was not highlighting the racial discrepancy in the series.

Instead he was focusing on a decrease in the literacy and overall progress in the African American community. Here's an example of an updated version by Mona chalabi where she updates the chart with the latest available data. I said was a quick example of how the illustration the divisions of the past and Inspire the forms of Storytelling in the present. I'm sure you'll be happy to tell. Talk to anybody more about it, right? As why this chart is singular in a towards all format and features a unique Design, Within the

exhibit income and expenditure of 150, negro families in Atlanta, Georgia, USA act, as a sort of key to the entire series of the humanizes. The data Dubois used photography, to connect to data, to the rest of the exhibit, which relied heavily on image of the prosperous successful African Americans, the challenge conventions, the top row of a chart is like, an expanded Legend with rent food, close taxes, and other expenditures. Also doubling his column headers that are map to the colors that we see in the horizontal stacked bar. Chart solo. Hello? This chart actually come to the end of the

Georgia negro series, it's number 31, but Ashley was displayed as the introduction to the to the statistical, charts in the exhibition itself. As you can see here from the original photograph of the exhibit, you can also see how helpful link this work to the rest of the presentation. So it's my research intensified sort of my questions and I found myself in regular contact with the Library of Congress prints and photographs divisions after six weeks of correspondence, with the Librarians, I was permitted, quote, a very special permission to view, only one of the divorce

charts in person, it was a real thrill to see the handmaid work and examine the actual pen marks. I have been studying for months already, as you can see there pretty large with it, 27 by 22-in, that's my computer, this computer technically for scale. This is also the only work in the series will feature gold leaf and color crayon as well as collage photographs. This image shows how much I was physically. Handled, and these marks of Jack, the suggest, the indentation of the fingernails of the Paris, Exposition guess exploring details. Like this could

only be possible by feeling the original works. As that. Certainly helps to understand the context and creation of the work. So out of the 50 charts in the exhibit, I personally find this work to be one of the most compelling. Proportion of freedmen and slaves among American Negroes, the title slaves arranged inside of the large, black area is like a kick in the gut. The green ribbon at the top of the chart shows, the ratio of free to enslaved African-Americans over roughly a century. This is another example where the boy is hiding, a complex reality inside of an optimistic

presentation. The story itself is simple for 76 years. No, less than 86% of all African Americans in the United States were slaves. But the emancipet the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1st, 1963 roughly right here. Yeah. Take an additional seven years and a Civil War for the remaining 6675000 slaves to gain their freedom. Stop. Before I go on I just want to say that the next section of this talk is actually a debut of all of my research so that you guys are literally

the first people that I've talked to about this other than my wife. All right. I've never felt very confident about the sequence of the works. I've always felt that learning more about the sequence could help us to understand how they're made and how they're meant to be viewed. So, like anybody working in data, I quickly make a spreadsheet. I compiled a list of a chart in sequential order, as provided by the Library of Congress. Then return to the exhibition, photo to look for more clues. What I found was pretty shocking On the upper right-hand side of the

image of a chart that I couldn't identify and was not in the collection of the Library of Congress. So like, anybody working in design, I cooked it started to play around with Photoshop and tried to manipulate the contrast with you. Love it more. I dug around and try to find the highest resolution image. I dug around and try to find that highest-resolution that I could. But I can already see, there was a unique new piece that had not been studied previously. Then like anybody working in research, I went and pleaded with a librarian for help. Luckily the University of

massachusetts-amherst Library have the original image and spent over a high-resolution version, aunt, The decrease of illiteracy among the black freedmen of the United States. This previously unknown work was hidden in plain sight. The quality of the images is high enough to decipher the text. And for the purpose of this talk, I was also able to recolor the work based on the corresponding grayscale in the original image. The chart shows the 36% drop in illiteracy of freedom of freedmen over a 30-year. The newly discovered chart of the missing link between the three

views of data for both of literacy and the proportion of freedmen. This work creates a correlation between freedom and education and shows just how systematic DuBois was and crafts in this message and reinforcing it throughout the entire series. The Legacy and direct impact of the amount of the exhibit of American Negroes as hard to measure the judges of The Paris. Exposition recognize the exhibit by awarding at a number of gold and silver metals, as well as an overall Grand Prix. And the boys a special gold medal for its execution. While the African American press report on

the exhibit, with excitement and enthusiasm, the European press, only moderately mention the effort, the white American Press. However, completely ignore the exhibit and the white American public-at-large. Remained unaware of its existence, So, whatever new book article and social media post, the story of the exhibit of American Negroes continues to spread to boys during Vision Works, I found that there are more voices from the past is just not yet, been explored over and over again, graphic forms in the past and Inspire us to create new ways of

communicating or to visualize any ideas. I feel like I've discovered so much and I'm just one person. So today I end by asking you what are the stories are out there to be found and retold. Thank you.

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