Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bully Civil War Photograph

This rare photograph shows a Union army camp scene where soldiers are entertained by a group of African American minstrel performers. Touring minstrel groups were typically composed of whites who performed in blackface, but some were made up of blacks. It would interesting to know if the group members here were free blacks - either from the northern or slave states - or if they were so-called contrabands.

The group is made up (from left to right) of a bones player, two guitarists, a banjoist, and a tambourine player. They seem to be missing a fiddle player. The group appears to be sitting especially for the photographer in a typical minstrel pose, as they are framed on each end by the raised arms of the bones player and tambourine player (see below).



  1. This is amazing! Where did you find it?

  2. Fantastic image. The nascent National Museum of African American Music in Nashville would love to exhibit it. Can you tell me the source, its provenance, and whether sharper scans exist?