William Leo Hansberry

“The Father of African Studies”

William Leo Hansberry photo

Historian and anthropologist, William Leo Hansberry (February 25, 1894 – November 3, 1965) began his college education at Atlanta University, but (at the urging of W.E.B. DuBois) he transferred to Harvard in 1917. Based on his reading of classical texts and his study of archeological evidence, Hansberry became convinced as an undergraduate that sophisticated civilizations had existed in Africa — especially in Ethiopia — for centuries prior to the rise of the Greeks and Romans in Europe. He pursued that premise for the rest of his life. (read more at Blackpast.org

Hansberry’s private papers amassed while he taught at Howard University from 1922 – 1959. During these thirty-seven years, Hansberry laid the foundation for the systematic study of African history, culture and politics. Hansberry, who received both his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Harvard University, unfortunately, was never able to receive his doctorate in African Studies as there were no programs offering the degree in his time.

Hansberry’s niece is the acclaimed playwright Lorraine Hansberry

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2 Books by William Leo Hansberry