Excerpted from Chapter 14, "Limitations on Competition in the Labor Market"
W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963)
William Edward Burghardt DuBois [Dew-BOYS] is popularly known as one of the great opponents of racial injustice in history. His ideas were fundamental for the spread of black nationalism and Pan-Africanism. Born to a former slave in Massachusetts, he rose to become a Harvard student and then Harvard Professor and world famous political leader before his long life ended in his adopted country of Ghana. DuBois was a brilliant and prolific scholar and, though few people mention it, an economist by training. DuBois was the first African American to study for the Ph.D. in Economics. It was normal for progressive students of the day to travel to Germany to learn about the German Historical School of Economics and general European economic institutions. (A co-founder of the American Economic Association, Richard T. Ely, is a famous example.) DuBois studied in Berlin for a few years, working with the famous Gustav Schmoller. He wanted to return to Cambridge to complete his dissertation, the final step for getting the Ph.D. in Economics. The Harvard faculty said Okay, so long as DuBois started the program at the very beginning, with all the other new students. But DuBois had been studying for several years, and passed his exams in Germany. Though accepted as a Harvard student, Harvard would not allow him to take the Ph.D. exams. DuBois and his German teachers failed in appeal. So DuBois applied for the History Ph.D. program at Harvard, got accepted, and in a short time completed a dissertation on the economic history of African slave trade, which scholars still derive benefit from.
The History of Economic Thought Website contains a good introduction to German Historicism and its perspectives on neoclassical economics.