Popular History

Yolande Du Bois at her Fiske Graduation

W.E.B. Du Bois to his 14-year old daughter, Yolande, while she was studying at the Bedales School in England.

New York, October 29, 1914

Dear Little Daughter:

I have waited for you to get well settled before writing. By this time I hope some of the strangeness has worn off and that my little girl is working hard and regularly. 

Of course, everything is new and unusual. You miss the newness and smartness of America. Gradually, however, you are going to sense the beauty of the old world: its calm and eternity and you will grow to love it. 

Above all remember, dear, that you have a great opportunity. You are in one of the world’s best schools, in one of the world’s greatest modern empires. Millions of boys and girls all over this world would give almost anything they possess to be where you are. You are there by no desert or merit of yours, but only by lucky chance. 

Deserve it, then. Study, do your work. Be honest, frank and fearless and get some grasp of the real values of life. You will meet, of course, curious little annoyances. People will wonder at your dear brown and the sweet crinkley hair. But that simply is of no importance and will soon be forgotten. Remember that most folk laugh at anything unusual, whether it is beautiful, fine or not. You, however, must not laugh at yourself. You must know that brown is as pretty as white or prettier and crinkley hair as straight even though it is harder to comb. The main thing is the YOU beneath the clothes and skin—the ability to do, the will to conquer, the determination to understand and know this great, wonderful, curious world. Don’t shrink from new experiences and custom. Take the cold bath bravely. Enter into the spirit of your big bed-room. Enjoy what is and not pine for what is not. Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline: Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul.

Above all remember: your father loves you and believes in you and expects you to be a wonderful woman.

I shall write each week and expect a weekly letter from you.

Lovingly yours,

Papa

  1. rosskim2posts reblogged this from profkew
  2. profkew reblogged this from popularhistory
  3. succumb-to-your-passion reblogged this from popularhistory and added:
    I love this so much.
  4. tikki-sun reblogged this from popularhistory
  5. makehersayhmm reblogged this from popularhistory and added:
    WHAT A GREAT FATHER.
  6. chocolatepennies reblogged this from popularhistory
  7. thecowation reblogged this from popularhistory
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  9. the-realm reblogged this from popularhistory and added:
    Beautifully written. Letter to my future daughter.
  10. femchef reblogged this from popularhistory
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  15. anikamyerspalm reblogged this from popularhistory and added:
    So sweet.
  16. rosycheeeks reblogged this from popularhistory and added:
    OMG
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  23. paperroot reblogged this from popularhistory and added:
    New York, October 29, 1914 Dear Little Daughter: I have waited for you to get well settled before writing. By this time...
  24. butmostlywelaugh reblogged this from popularhistory
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  26. meygoostahmoocho reblogged this from lunadamepan and added:
    cried reading this. then promptly linked it to my dad. SO MANY FEELINGS RIGHT NOW. I JUST WANNA GO HOMEEEEE.
  27. lunadamepan reblogged this from popularhistory and added:
    “The main thing is the YOU beneath the clothes and skin—the ability...will to conquer, the...
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