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Cornell Minstrels [...] Dec. 10, 1888. Base Ball Benefit.
Cornell Minstrels [...] Dec. 10, 1888. Base Ball Benefit.

Cornell Minstrels [...] Dec. 10, 1888. Base Ball Benefit.

Illustrated minstrel show program from Cornell University

Founded in 1872, the Cornelian Minstrels was the first dramatic club organized at Cornell University.

Performing in 1888 as “The Cornell Minstrels,” they joined with The Ithaca Orchestral Club put on a minstrel show at the Wilgus Opera House in Ithaca to raise money for the baseball team—a “Base Ball Benefit.”

The cover of the program for the evening’s entertainment depicts a racist, stereotype image of an African-American man. A grinning, scraggly-haired minstrel player with thick lips is shown in fancy evening dress, complete with a showy, sparkling jewel and comically outsized bow tie and boutonnière.

The program lists several group and solo musical performances by 19 individually named students. A likely “drag” act by “Signora Tutti-Frutti” is offensively titled “The Dago Co-Ed.”

The second half of the evening was an “olio,” a more raucous set of musical and dance acts. The olio included a exhibition of Indian clubs, a musical skit featuring members of the Banjo Club, the above-mentioned “drag” act, a comic monologue, and a performance by A.R. Kolb, “Cornell’s Famous Whistler.”

The evening concluded with a farce: A Blade of Grass, “arranged expressly for the Cornell Minstrels.”

Description: Cornell Minstrels [...] Dec. 10, 1888. Base Ball Benefit.

[Likely Ithaca, New York], 1888. [4]pp. Program. 4 x 6¾ inches. Heavy-stock paper. Illustration on front cover. Separated at center fold; some foxing and toning; minor losses, not affecting text; paper residue on versos of each leaf from prior album mounting; otherwise, good.


Ref. Hewett, Cornell University, A History. Volume Three. (New York, 1905), pp139 and 141.

Price: $75.00