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):


Oliver Scott’s Refined Negro (1898):


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


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


Postcard (1906):


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, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.