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Blackface minstrelsy, also called blackface, is an indigenous American theatrical form that constituted a subgenre of the minstrel show. Intended as comic entertainment, blackface minstrelsy was performed by a group of white minstrels (traveling musicians) with black-painted faces, whose material caricatured the singing and dancing of slaves. The form reached the pinnacle of its popularity between 1850 and 1870, when it enjoyed sizeable audiences in both the United States and Britain. Although blackface minstrelsy gradually disappeared from the professional theatres and became purely a vehicle for amateurs, its influence endured in later entertainment genres and media, including vaudeville theatre, radio and television programs, and the world-music and motion-picture industries of the 20th and 21st centuries. Source: Encyclopedia Britannica, Blackface Minstrelsy
Image Source: Library of Congress. Portrait of Egbert Austin "Bert" Williams (187401922) as black-face minstrel comedian
Overview of Blackface Minstrelsy
African American Studies Center (Oxford)
This source includes articles and images about the topic of blackface minstrelsy. See:
Stereotypes of African Americans
Music Online (Oxford)
Search "minstrelsy, american"
There are three articles on the topic:
This source includes article about the topic. See:
Search these databases to find articles about blackface.
Black Studies Center
Includes scholarly essays, recent periodicals, historical newspaper articles, reference books, and much more. Including The Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, Index to Black Periodicals Full Text, Black Literature Index, and the Chicago Defender historical newspaper from 1912-1975.
Music Periodicals Database
Provides indexing, abstracts and full-text, for international music periodicals. Content covers the full spectrum of subjects and all aspects of music, including music education, performance, ethnomusicology, musical theatre, theory, popular music forms and composition.
Performing Arts Periodicals Database
Provides indexing, abstracts and some full-text, for international periodicals. Covers a broad spectrum of the arts and entertainment industry - including dance, drama, theater, stagecraft, musical theater, circus performance, opera, pantomime, puppetry, magic, performance art, film, television and more.
America: History & Life
Indexes articles, books, essays in books, and dissertations on the history and culture of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present.
Academic Search Premier
A multidisciplinary database containing full text journal, magazine & newspaper articles, many from peer-reviewed titles. This scholarly collection covers information in nearly every area of academic study.
Covering more than 160 subject areas, ProQuest Central is a large aggregated database of periodical content. It features a diversified mix of content including scholarly journals, trade publications, magazines, books, newspapers, reports and videos.
Books in Collins Library
Raising Cain by
Call Number: Print Books PN1969.M5 L53 1998
Publication Date: 2000-05-19
The story of an insubordinate, rebellious, truly popular culture stretching from Jim Crow to hip hop is told for the first time in Raising Cain, a provocative look at how the outcasts of official culture have made their own place in the world.
Behind the Burnt Cork Mask by
Call Number: Print Books ML1711 .M34 1999
Publication Date: 1998-12-01
Promises to redefine the study of blackface minstrelsy, charting new directions for future inquiries by scholars in American studies, popular culture, and musicology
Call Number: Print Books NX652.A37 G83 1997
Publication Date: 1997-05-22
Through a far-reaching exploration of the long overlooked legacy of minstrelsy--cross-racial impersonations or "racechanges"--throughout modern American film, fiction, poetry, painting, photography, and journalism, Gubar documents the indebtedness of "mainstream" artists to African-American culture, and explores the deeply conflicted psychology of white guilt.
Darkest America by
Call Number: PN1969.M5 T39 2012
Publication Date: 2012-08-27
Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen investigate the complex history of black minstrelsy, adopted in the mid-nineteenth century by African American performers who played the grinning blackface fool to entertain black and white audiences. We now consider minstrelsy an embarrassing relic, but once blacks and whites alike saw it as a black art form--and embraced it as such. And, as the authors reveal, black minstrelsy remains deeply relevant to popular black entertainment, particularly in the work of contemporary artists.
Blacks in Blackface by
Call Number: Print Books ML1711 .S25 2014
Publication Date: 2013-01-01
The chapters in this volume include: An overview of African American musical shows from the end of the Civil War through the golden years of the 1920s and '30s, New and expanded biographical sketches of performers, Detailed information about the first producers and owners of Black minstrel and musical comedy shows, Origins and backgrounds of several famous Black theatres, Profiles of African American entrepreneurs and businessmen who provided financial resources to build and own many of the Black theatres where these shows were performed, A chronicle of booking agencies and organized Black theatrical circuits, music publishing houses, and phonograph recording businesses. Critical commentary from African American newspapers and show business publications.
For more books about blackface, search the following terms in Primo:
Examples of films from Films on Demand
Blackface Stereotyping, 1933
A BLACKFACE routine with four guys in blackface singing and acting out a craps game, truly offensive stereotyping, 2 minutes, 13 seconds
Minstrel Entertainers Perform for a Street Crowd ca. 1900
In the 1830s minstrel shows depicting stereotypes of African Americans was popular entertainment throughout the United States. Most of these early minstrel shows featured white performers in blackface, but in later years African-American singers performed. 47 seconds
Black Representations in American Society
In the 1930s, white performers donned blackface to impersonate black characters on stage and film. Joe Louis helped change white Americans' image of black people. He deftly beat boxer Tony Galento. 2 minutes, 2 seconds
This Emmy Award–winning documentary reveals the origins of the dehumanizing African-American stereotypes found in popular culture, from the antebellum period to the era of the civil rights movement. Loyal Uncle Toms, carefree sambos, faithful mammies, grinning fools, savage brutes, and wide-eyed “pickaninnies” roll across the screen in cartoons, feature films, popular songs, minstrel shows, advertisements, folklore, household artifacts, and even children’s rhymes. 58 minutes
In the 19th century, white performers darkened their skin and imitated African-American dancers, insulting and admiring African-American styles. 38 seconds