These are remnants of ice skates found by archaeologists from UMass Amherst in 1983 at the W. E. B. Du Bois Boyhood Homesite in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Artifacts like these tell us a great deal about the everyday lives of the family living at the house on Egremont Plain.
The Berkshire winters are long and cold, so ice skating would have been a common activity throughout the region when Du Bois was young, as it is today. It is tempting to speculate that Du Bois thought back with fondness to his own childhood when he ordered a pair of skates for his granddaughter, Du Bois Williams, in 1946.
She was delighted with the present, describing them in a letter as being beautiful and ‘just like movie stars wear’. The original letter can be found in the Du Bois Papers in the UMass Amherst archive, which is fully digitized and available free online.
Long Blade in Sketchfab (glb): https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/du-bois-long-skating-blade-9e33682cac3843298064ce1ea654c55e
Short Blade in Sketchfab (glb): https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/bladeshort-glb-56c54303699942b087e09000c5a6802a
In collection(s): An Introduction to W. E. B. Du Bois
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