Augustus Granville Dill, sociologist, business manager, musician, and colleague of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois, is best known for his work overseeing the publication of Du Bois’s journal, The Crisis, between 1913 and 1928. He also helped publish The Brownies’ Book, a pioneering magazine for black children published from 1920 to 1921. In many ways, A.G. Dill represented the possibilities but also the difficulties of the college-educated “talented tenth” generation that Du Bois lauded as civil rights pioneers in his seminal Souls of Black Folk (1903).
Born in Portsmouth, Ohio in 1881, Dill came of age in the era of Jim Crow. After graduating from Atlanta University with a B.A. in 1906, he earned a second B.A. at Harvard University in 1908. Dill was one of a handful of black students who matriculated at universities such as Harvard at the turn of the century but like his mentor Du Bois, he found few opportunities for advancement outside of the black institutions that had developed in response to segregation’s proscriptions. Atlanta University awarded Dill a Master’s degree in Sociology in 1909 and hired him as both a professor and organist for the school in 1910.
While in Atlanta, Dill helped produce a series of important sociological studies initiated by W.E.B. Du Bois and financed by the John F. Slater Fund. The “Atlanta Studies” included The College-Bred Negro (1910), The Common School and the Negro (1911), The Negro American Artisan (1912), and Morals and Manners Among Negro Americans (1914). These works documented the difficulties that African Americans faced under Jim Crow, particularly highlighting inequalities of education and economic opportunity. At the same time, the Atlanta Studies insisted that the small but active black bourgeois class was evidence of African American potential for full citizenship rights.
In 1913, Dill moved to New York City to serve as office manager and assistant editor at The Crisis, the journal begun in