New England News
5:59 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Group Plans Great Barrington National Historic Site

Great Barrington was the hometown of the late author and civil rights leader and founder of the NAACP. He died nearly 50 years ago.

A parcel of land and home located along route 23 in Great Barrington that was given to WEB Dubois as a gift was bulldozed in the mid-50’s. In the 1960’s, the acreage where the homestead sat changed hands. Currently, UMass Amherst owns the homesite.

The Friends of the Du Bois Home site are planning to include the 5-acre plot Great Barrington and three other locations a national historic site.

Dolores Ruth, a historian and Friend of the Du Bois Homesite says that her group plans to expand Du Bois’s legacy beyond the homesite to actively engage the town of Great Barrington in making a national historic site that would give service to the town and the Berkshires.

The ten-year plan would require $12 million, which now includes building a new website and hiring an executive director to manage the efforts. A website currently under construction will be finished in the coming weeks.

As it stands right now, the Friends of the Du Bois homesite organization is volunteer run. Dolores Ruth says that once the organization can raise enough money to hire a director, the group can undertake the transformation to becoming a historical institution.

UMass’s efforts have focused on developing the homesite itself, including new signage and upkeep. Brooks Fitch of UMass’s WEB Du Bois Center says that by also working in different ways to preserve Du Bois’s legacy, the Friends and UMass are carrying in tradition of the late thinker.

The Friends hope to work with UMass in using the author’s words and documents in their preservation work. Currently, UMass is in the process of digitizing the library of Du Bois’s work and currently shares the documents publicly on its website. Brooks Fitch explains…

The website for the Dubois National Historical Society plan will be finished in the coming weeks. The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area will also support the national historic site organization.

Future website of Du Bois National Historic Society:
http://duboisnhs.org/

UMass Center for WEB Du Bois
http://www.thewebduboiscenter.com/w-e-b-du-bois-center