Minstrel Banjo

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Being already racist in content the writing below the picture adds to that. That being said; were there a lot of women in Black face Minstrels?

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Comment by Bob Sayers on January 19, 2014 at 4:28am

I think there were probably few (if any) women in professional minstrelsy in the 19th century, if sources like Edward Roy Le Rice's Monarchs of Minstrelsy and Harry Reynolds' Minstrel Memories can be trusted.  Antebellum sheet music covers often show women performers, but these are actually male performers in women's clothing ("wench dancers").  One possible exception is a troupe called the Female American Serenaders that appeared in Birmingham, England in the summer of 1847.  My hunch is that, once again, this is a group of male performers in female garb.       

Having said all of this, Nicholas Bechtel's unusual and disturbing photo (the first one that I've seen) makes clear that "blackface"  was not the sole province of men, especially during the later Jim Crow era.    

Comment by Bob Sayers on January 19, 2014 at 4:36am

Comment by Bob Sayers on January 19, 2014 at 4:40am

I just posted an 1890 cartoon from Punch which offers its own commentary on women in blackface.  The caption reads:  "Black Syrens.  This is how the lovely and accomplished Miss B--ns (of --, Portland Place) managed to defray the expenses of their Sea-side Trip, this autumn, without anybody being any the wiser!"

Comment by Strumelia on January 19, 2014 at 6:42pm

I think in that photo of the 3 kids, the one imitating a blackface banjo player is in a home made Halloween getup, might even be their little brother. Clearly an Autumn photo, which makes me suspect Halloween.  In fact, the girls might be in costume too, since to me anyway, the photo seems a little more modern than their outfits would dictate.  I might well be wrong on that.

Kids (and some grownups) have been dressing up as 'Mammies' in blackface, as Indian chiefs, Hillbillies, 'Chinamen', Mexicans, all kinds of racist or questionable costumes pretty much constantly up until recently when it's been frowned upon (finally) and few white people thought much of it.  I remember it in the late 1950's and very early 1960's at school or neighborhood Halloween parties, in NYC- all kinds of getups that would not be permitted today.

But, just saying the photo shown doesn't necessarily give an example of a women in blackface or women in minstrelsy.  I'm thinking it's more a photo of kids in now-unacceptable Halloween costumes.

Comment by Strumelia on January 19, 2014 at 6:53pm

"There's a New Coon in Town" is a song written in 1883 I think?

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