Rachel Davis Dubois was born on January 25, 1892 in Clarksboro, New Jersey. She grew up on a farm and was raised as a Quaker. She was married to Nathan Stewart DuBois on 19 June 1915. Prior to the marriage, Nathan expressed doubts about having children. Following her disappointment, Rachel agreed to a childless marriage with the understanding that she would be free to pursue a career.
In 1924, DuBois was hired as a teacher at the Woodbury High School in New Jersey. Shortly after assuming this position, and with the support of several colleagues, DuBois formed a senior assembly centered around the subject of "Americanization." The group met twice a month to stage productions highlighting the cultural contributions to American society by various ethnic and immigrant groups. While their initial emphasis was on creating tolerance for those who are different from one's self, the focus soon shifted to fostering "sympathetic" attitudes. The sessions were very popular with students and fellow teachers, but members of the community did not approve of DuBois's views on racial equality, women's rights and pacifism. At the urging of the local American Legion, she was asked to resign. However, DuBois was a tenured teacher; thus, she was able to retain her position and continue with the assemblies. DuBois continued in this capacity until her resignation in 1930, when she left to attend Teachers College at Columbia University. She wanted to "study how attitudes are formed and can be changed."
Even while attending Teachers College, DuBois' work with the Woodbury Plan continued. A number of schools were interested in implementing the plan into their curricula, and to manage all the requests, the Service Bureau for Human Relations was formed, with DuBois as the director. Around the same time, the organization recognized that educating fellow teachers was nearly as important as educating students. Thus, the Service Bureau began offering courses for the educators at all the schools where they operated. In 1933, DuBois was invited to teach a course on the subject at Boston University. Over the next several years, the Service Bureau led workshops on intercultural education at conferences and universities, including a groundbreaking workshop at Sarah Lawrence. At this workshop, teachers were asked to share their classroom problems within small groups and then talk together to find solutions. Elements of intercultural education were woven throughout the workshop.
In 1939, DuBois and her associates came up with the idea for a radio show, in an effort to broadcast their message to a larger audience. DuBois approached John Studebaker, the U.S. Commissioner of Education, about the program and together, they arranged for CBS to air the program in a series of 26 half-hour episodes. To facilitate the coordination and planning, DuBois was appointed as a consultant to the U.S. Office of Education. After its 26-week run, CBS received an award from the Women's National Radio Committee for the best program of the year for public service.