Harvard: “American Minstrel Show Collection” (1823-1947)

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American minstrel show collection, 1823-1947 >>



“The collection includes images of minstrel performers and troupes, playbills and programs of performances, and other miscellaneous materials concerning minstrel shows.

The images are of individual minstrel performers and troupes, primarily from American minstrel shows ca. 1830s to 1890s. A variety of formats are included: lithographs, photographs, a few etchings and cabinet photographs, printed clippings, photomechanical prints, 1 tintype, and others. Some prints are hand-colored and images depict performers both in character (in “blackface”), as well as in street clothes. For the most part, sheet music in this series is not complete, but are only covers that were collected for the images of the performers. This series also includes other materials such as photomechanical copies of playbills and broadsides, clippings with images and biographical text, some complete sheet music, programs, manuscripts, and drawings.

The playbill series includes “true” playbills (long sheets, printed on only one side) and also printed advertisements, programs (printed on both sides), and programs with sheet music. Also included are a few photomechanical reproductions of playbills.

Some important groups represented in this collection are: Bryant’s Minstrels, Buckley’s New Orleans Serenaders, Callender’s Georgia Minstrels, Campbell’s Minstrels, Christy’s Minstrels, Ethiopian Serenaders, Haverly’s Minstrels, Ordway’s Æolian Vocalists, Thomas Dartmouth Rice, Virginia Minstrels, Virginia Serenaders, White’s Minstrels, Wood’s Minstrels, many female minstrel groups, as well as many others. This collection also includes materials for American troupes performing abroad. Names for the various groups often changed. The same group might be filed here under different names, depending on what was printed on the playbill or image.”

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