Sources of Evidence

Note:  Images of all accumulated documents, in any form, are provided if possible on this site--a significant feature of this project, and available for use by researchers.  Permissions were obtained in all necessary cases from archival repositories, strictly for use on this database; any alternative publication of original and unique archival documents by researchers will require contact with the original archive.  Published newspaper and journal accounts can be found in a number of archives and online resources, which change with the technology almost daily.

Events

The backbone of this database comes from a search of popular period journals, noting for entry any reference to blackface minstrelsy, and to any other depiction of race in performance or on exhibition (American slave culture or otherwise), by way of context. Weekly national trade and popular culture journals, such as the Theatrical Journal and the Era, provide a strong backbone of reported events, which have then, where possible and appropriate, been corroborated and added to by a search of local dailies and weeklies (the Sheffield Times, for example). This information is supplemented by archival materials as they become available, including playbills.  

Persons | Troupes | Venues

Entries on the people, groups, 'titles' of performances, and places of performance are drawn from a variety of sources, beginning with the periodical literature and archival documents but also including early histories of minstrelsy by people who were involved (such as T. Allston Brown), as well as more recent studies of this phenomenon. A list of citations accompanies every entry.

In the long run, visits to a variety of local archives have yielded a more complete picture of this form of entertainment--or, more correctly, a more complete set of materials from which a picture can be drawn. 

What we were able to do in the life of this project provides a partial view of the dissemination of the performance of race in Britain during this period.  Further research by others will provide a more complete picture, though the research, in fact, will never be complete, and that 'picture,' along with any understanding of the explosion of the performance of minstrelsy at this time, will never be fully complete, and never completely in focus.