Map Gallery

How to Use the Maps

Below you will find four different maps: Performance Venues, Performances by Women, Frequency of Performance – Heat Map, Frequency of Performance – Clusters Map. For each type, there are two ways to view the map.

  1. The embedded ArcGIS map.
  2. The application button located near the bottom of the page.

We chose to present the maps in these two ways for optimal accessibility, just in case a user finds one easier to use over the other. In either format, the viewer should be able to select which layers are viewable at a given moment by clicking the right-pointing arrows at the top left of the map. Each map’s default setting projects all data layers collected.


Performance Venues

The map below features two layers: Original T.O.B.A. Theater Members in 1920 and Theaters Owned and Operated by Black People from 1910-1930. We decided to include these data points as separate layers with different markers to present that this projection is most likely not a conclusive representation of the theaters participating on the T.O.B.A. circuit. As you’ll find in the Theaters Owned and Operated by Black People layer, some of the theaters were equipped to book vaudeville and road show performances, while other dabbled more in picture shows. It is important to note that a large quantity of our Performance Data from the different women performers overlaps with theaters from both of these layers. One research question we considered while making these maps is what determines a theater to be a T.O.B.A. theater. Is there a set list beyond the original members list?


Women Performers

“Ma” Rainey

Bessie Smith

Clara Smith

Edmonia Henderson

Ethel Waters

Ida Cox

Mamie Smith

The Whitman Sisters

Much like the previous map, this map features many different layers of women performers on the T.O.B.A. circuit. The women featured in these layers are the eight women listed above: Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Clara Smith, Edmonia Henderson, Ethel Waters, Ida Cox, Mamie Smith, and the Whitman Sisters. However, this map also over lays data points from performers with fewer documented performances. Each layer is represented by a different marker shape and color.

When navigating the map, we invite you to click through the different layers to see how far some of these individual women traveled for their performances. One possible area for further research could be how these women traveled from gig to gig, and if certain performers focus in one particular region of the country. The ultimate goal of this projection is to show the broad reach of these musicians across the United States.


Frequency of Performance

In the next two maps, you will find the data from the previous two maps layered on top of each other. These maps function to show where these women were most often performing in the United States.

The first map is a heat map. Here, the two performance venue layers remain markers, while the documented performances by women include data points from both women frequently encountered and women with fewer documented performances group into one layer. When we did this, the hot spots for these collected performances by women seemed to fall in Washington D.C., Kansas City, MO., Nashville, TN., and Chicago, IL., to name a few.

In this frequency of performance map, the same data as the heat map is presented in a slightly different way. Like the previous map, you’ll find the same performance venue presentation, layered with the different categories of women performers: frequently encountered performers (teal color) and fewer documented performers (blue/purple color). However, this map separates the two types of women performers to show whether one group performs in a certain region of the country more frequently. The markers are clustered to continue highlighting where women performers are booking more gigs.

As you will see, in this cluster map, the women with fewer documented performances are seemingly confided to one region of the United States: near the cities of Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh, PA. We believe these larger clusters may have resulted in one our significant resources being the Pittsburgh Courier, a local newspaper.

The major takeaway from this frequency of performance map is the emphasis on how widely spread the more frequently documented women are in comparison to the women with fewer documented performances. We believe it might be interesting to explore why some artists never touch certain venues or why some artists frequent certain venues over others.

Click the following buttons to access the full-screen, ArcGIS Webapp versions of each of the above maps in a new window.

Possibilities for Further Research

As a group, we wonder what this data would look like in conversation with documented performances by male T.O.B.A. artists. Would we see some theaters booking more women than others?

We also propose it might be interesting to consider the relationship between theater owners/operators and performers. Would we see frequent appearances by particular artists booked in the same theater?

Data Spreadsheets for Maps

In the following slides, you’ll find our data tables that produced our four different maps.