We launched this site in April 2006, and began by entering materials related to the dancer William Henry Lane, known as 'Master Juba' or 'Boz's Juba.' Because he toured in Britain, for a time, with one version of the Ethiopian Serenaders, we focused first of all on completing an itinerary of that troupe in all its incarnations, and on the individuals who were associated with it, including Gilbert W. Pell the clown and 'bones' player, and Thomas F. Briggs, one of the earliest practitioners and promoters of the banjo. You can find out more about the troupes with this name, the performers they included, the culture and scholarship surrounding the phenomenon of early minstrelsy, and a better understanding of how to use this site, at this complementary website: UNDER CONSTRUCTION
From this first impetus, we have proceeded to accumulate information on a wide variety of other performers that are now included in this database. This includes blackface minstrel troupes, which were particularly popular; but it also includes individual blackface performers wherever they played, and instances of the exhibition of race on any kind of stage and in any kind of entertainment--plays, pantomimes, ballets, saloons, etc.
We have accumulated and entered this information here to the best of our abilities, and in the time available during our grant, and beyond, for a full ten years. This project has now ended. There is no claim to a comprehensive accumulation of performances. It is representative, and it is 'a start.'