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W. C. Handy

Thursday, November 6, 2014

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From The Crisis, November 1915. —Yes, in this magazine of “American Negro” culture, the articles were separated by little swastkas. Before the Nazis ruined it forever, the swastika was a popular symbol in a wide variety of different contexts.

Waltz by Charlotte Cushman

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


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From The Ladies’ Companion, 1837. —Charlotte Cushman, one of the most famous American actresses of the nineteenth century, began her career as an opera singer.

The African Vocal Apparatus

Thursday, November 7, 2013


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From Werner’s Magazine, March, 1895.—It is not hard to find evidence that these peculiar ideas persist in American culture today; without thinking about it, many Americans take the existence of a distinctive African-American accent as evidence of some physical rather than cultural difference. (The accent is an American cultural phenomenon: by voice alone, it is not usually possible to tell an Englishman of African descent from an Englishman of European descent.) Thirty years after this little article, jazz was all the rage, and racial theorists occupied themselves with explaining why the Negro was a natural instrumentalist.


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From Werner’s Magazine, February,1895.—We do not pretend to know anything in particular about Japanese music, and therefore cannot judge the accuracy of this article in that regard. But it is an unusually valuable portrait of Western attitudes toward things Japanese at a particularly interesting time in the history of those attitudes.

Fashions in Pianos, 1856

Sunday, September 1, 2013


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From The Historical Picture Gallery, 1856.