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 an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.