1901 COON CREEK COURTSHIP (MINSTREL PLAY)

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This 1901 minstrel play “Coon Creek Courtship” is published by T.S. Denison & Company.

The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, performed by white people in blackface or, especially after the Civil War, black people in blackface.

Minstrel shows lampooned black people as dim-witted, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious, happy-go-lucky, and musical. The minstrel show began with brief burlesques and comic entr’actes in the early 1830s and emerged as a full-fledged form in the next decade. By 1848, blackface minstrel shows were the national art form, translating formal art such as opera into popular terms for a general audience.

By the turn of the 20th century, the minstrel show enjoyed but a shadow of its former popularity, having been replaced for the most part by vaudeville. It survived as professional entertainment until about 1910; amateur performances continued until the 1960s in high schools, and local theaters. As the civil rights movement progressed and gained acceptance, minstrels lost popularity.