Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Blackface: Getting Started

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


Search these databases to find articles about blackface.

Books in Collins Library

For more books about blackface, search the following terms in Primo:

Blackface entertainers

Minstrel Shows



Examples of films from Films on Demand


Profile Photo
Angela Weaver
Collins Library 131