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Four Questions with Chad Williams

Clir News No. 152

April-March 2023

Brandeis professor’s stunning archival discovery unveils 800-page unpublished manuscript by W.E.B. Du Bois

Chad L. Williams, a professor of African American and African studies professor at Brandeis University, has made a stunning archival discovery that sheds new light on the life and work of W.E.B Du Bois.  Williams has uncovered an 800-page unfinished and unpublished manuscript by Du Bois, which he has used as the basis for his latest book, “The Wounded World: W.E.B. Du Bois and the First World War.”

In this groundbreaking book, Williams examines the experiences of African American soldiers during World War I and their efforts to fight for civil rights both abroad and at home.  Drawing on extensive archival research, including Du Bois’ personal papers,  Williams offers a vivid picture of the struggles and sacrifices of these soldiers.

In this audio Q&A, Williams discusses his groundbreaking archival discovery, the significance of Du Bois’ manuscript in shaping our understanding of American history, and the profound insights it offers into the ongoing struggle for civil rights and social justice in America.

Q: How did you discover W.E.B. DuBois' unpublished manuscript and related research materials on the experiences of African Americans during World War 1?


Q: Can you describe how you felt when you made this surprising discovery and began to immerse yourself in this collection?


Q: Your new book coincides with ongoing controversies over critical race theory, new state laws against teaching "divisive topics," and efforts to rewrite or erase uncomfortable truths about our nation's history. In this context, how has your book been received?


Q: Based on your own scholarly experience, do you believe that scholars can effectively use archives and library spaces to reclaim the past, to debunk myths, to resist efforts to whitewash history, and find lessons to help guide this country into a more just future?


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