About Our Maps
Our maps show touring patterns and ticket prices of late-19th century Black blackface minstrel troupes. Users can compare frequent touring locations of Black-managed and white-managed troupes and analyze which areas of the country had the highest ticket prices. The maps show that white-managed troupes performed more often in major cities than Black-managed troupes, especially in New England and the Midwest. Black-managed troupes performed more often on the West Coast and the South, and also ventured overseas. It is likely that white managers had an easier time finding venues where their troupes could perform and stay overnight, and larger cities were likely more accommodating than more rural areas. Unfortunately, our data about ticket prices is largely inconclusive. It is possible that tickets were more expensive on the West Coast than elsewhere in the United States, but the elevated prices there may also be explained by the fact that these performances took place closer to the turn of the 20th century than the other performances we mapped. Furthermore, the railroad basemap shows that there was limited transportation that could access the West Coast, making travel more expensive.
These maps are merely a starting point for uncovering the seldom-touched history of Black blackface minstrelsy. We hope other researchers might compare 1880 Census demographics with these touring patterns to learn more about the potential audiences for white-managed troupes compared to Black-managed troupes. We recommend that scholars use these maps as a basis for further research on Black-managed troupes, where they performed, and who came to see them.
How to Use These Maps
These maps show where Black minstrel troupes performed from 1871 until 1939. Use the legend on the left side of the maps to differentiate between different troupes and to see whether certain troupes were Black- or white-managed. You can turn layers on and off to investigate specific troupes. For the Black-managed troupe maps, please zoom far out to see performances outside of North America (specifically in Hawai’i and Australia). To see the full extent of these maps, click the title above the map to open the map in a new tab.