Minstrelsy is a form of entertainment, popular from the 1830s till the early 1900s in which white, and later black, people painted their face black and performed a caricature of blackness.  The images below (borrowed from Jim Crow History and Wikipedia) are original advertisements for minstrel shows.

Haverly’s United Mastodon Minstrels (circa 1877):

Haverly's_United_Mastodon_Minstrels

Oliver Scott’s Refined Negro (1898):

a_26082

Al W. Martin’s Uncle Tom’s cabin (1898):

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Wm. H. West’s Big Minstrel Jubilee (1900):

800px-Minstrel_PosterBillyVanWare_edit

Postcard (1906):

ImperialMinstrelsPostcard

For more caricatures of black people in U.S. history, see these posts: one, twp, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, and twenty.

And for examples of modern reproductions of these stereotypes (literally), see these: one, two, three, four, and five.

For examples and discussion of contemporary “blackface,” see one, two, three, four, five, and six.  Also, bugs bunny.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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