Music Sheet, "Jimmy Crow," 1834-1837

Summary

This sheet music includes the music and lyrics for a minstrel show and the image of a blackface character. Minstrel shows generally featured white actors wearing black makeup (known as blackface) who portrayed racist stereotypes of African Americans through singing and dancing. American audiences considered these shows comical and attended minstrel shows for over a century, from the live theater of the early 1800s to the films of the early-20th century. They even appeared in mid-20th century children's cartoons. The lyrics on this sheet are attributed to Thomas Dartmouth Rice (1808-1860), who introduced the character "Jim Crow", a stereotypical African-American, in 1832. The cover image may also depict Rice, an American singer, dancer, and composer, one of the first well-known blackface performers. The "Jimmy Crow" song made Rice internationally famous. The song's popularity first brought the term into the American language as derogatory slang referring to African Americans. "Jim Crow" eventually referred to the two separate societies - one black, one white - followed throughout the United States. This system was formalized in the South by state laws passed in the late-19th century. Blacks and whites could not sit in the same waiting rooms, use the same bathrooms or eat in the same restaurants, for example. Not until the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was segregation outlawed.

This sheet music includes the music and lyrics for a minstrel show and the image of a blackface character. Minstrel shows generally featured white actors wearing black makeup (known as blackface) who portrayed racist stereotypes of African Americans through singing and dancing. American audiences considered these shows comical and attended minstrel shows for over a century, from the live theater of the early 1800s to the films of the early-20th century. They even appeared in mid-20th century children's cartoons. The lyrics on this sheet are attributed to Thomas Dartmouth Rice (1808-1860), who introduced the character "Jim Crow", a stereotypical African-American, in 1832. The cover image may also depict Rice, an American singer, dancer, and composer, one of the first well-known blackface performers. The "Jimmy Crow" song made Rice internationally famous. The song's popularity first brought the term into the American language as derogatory slang referring to African Americans. "Jim Crow" eventually referred to the two separate societies - one black, one white - followed throughout the United States. This system was formalized in the South by state laws passed in the late-19th century. Blacks and whites could not sit in the same waiting rooms, use the same bathrooms or eat in the same restaurants, for example. Not until the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was segregation outlawed.

Artifact

Sheet music

Date Made

1834-1837

Subject Date

1834-1837

Creators

Atwill's Music Saloon 

Endicott, George, 1802-1848 

Place of Creation

United States, New York, New York 

Creator Notes

Lithographed by George Endicott. Published by Atwill's Music Saloon, New York, New York.

Collection Title

Music Sheet Collection 

 On Exhibit

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Object ID

00.4.945

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Material

Paper (Fiber product)

Technique

Lithography

Color

Black-and-white (Colors)

Dimensions

Height: 13 in

Width: 9.75 in

Inscriptions

Printed on front below illustration: JIMMY CROW. / New York: Published at ATWILL'S MUSIC SALOON, No. 201 Broadway. Printed inside page one: JIM CROW. / A / Celebrated COMIC SONG or Ballad, / AS SUNG BY / all the / COMIC SINGERS, / Composed and Arranged / for the/PIANO FORTE.

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