[Vaudeville Archive of Blackface Minstrels Howard and Fields and Singing and Talk Act, Kaufman and Kaufman].
Small archive documenting two separate vaudeville theatrical acts, blackface minstrels Howard and Fields and the “singing and talk” act, Kaufman and Kaufman. Howard and Fields were noted for their two-man minstrel act—sometimes with a straight man—set in a railroad dining car. As a solo minstrel artist, Frank Howard also performed with the Franklin Brothers.
A 1909 article on “The Evolution of Minstrelsy” in The Green Book Album magazine praises Frank Howard’s singing, songwriting, and musical composition skills: “And how he could sing!! a regular grand opera tenor was Howard—the best the minstrel stage ever knew. He wrote both words and music for such famous song hits as “When the Robins Nest Again,” “Only a Pansy Blossom,” “I’ll Await My Love”...and others. Howard’s songs netted him over two hundred thousand dollars in royalties. It was the writer’s privilege recently to hear Howard sing and his remarkable voice seemed as good as ever. He is now rehearsing a new act entitled “The Last Call For Supper” in which he will be assisted by the Franklin Brothers, two likely young chaps whose voices blend beautifully with his own.”¹ A 9-page typescript of The Last Call For Supper is included in the archive and mentions the Franklin Brothers.
• Two Real Photo Post Cards advertising “Howard and Fields” and “Howard & Fields in The Rag Time Dining Car.” The former card shows Fields in blackface; the latter card—a photo-montage—shows both in blackface and their dining car stage set and notes that they were “Touring Pantages Circuit Season 1920.” The Pantages were a West Coast-based vaudeville circuit with some national reach.
• Real Photo Post Card portrait of Hugh Howard, the son and vaudeville business colleague of Frank Howard; inscribed to Frank Howard from “Hugh.” A pencil note on the verso identifies him as“ Hugh Burns Martindale, great grandson of Terrance Burns, descendant of Bobby Burns.” N.B. “Frank Howard” was the stage name of John F. Martindale.²
• Two Typed Letters Signed by A.P. Mayer of Chicago’s The Simon Agency, Inc., Artists’ Representatives. Dated October 26 and December 12, 1922, the letters are addressed to Hughie Howard and Howard and Fields, respectively, both letters discussing a “Mr. Lee,” a third man in the act.
• Six Contracts from the B.F. Keith Vaudeville Exchange of Boston engaging the “Blackface Comedy,” “sing, talk, comedy,” or “comedy minstrel” act of Howard and Fields. Contracts were for performances at various Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island theaters, August–December 1922.
• Typescript, 9pp, mimeographed: “Mr. Frank Howard, The Famous Minstrel, Assisted by The Franklin Brothers, Presenting The Unique Comedy Playlet, Last Call for Supper by Arthur Gillespie” [cover title].
• Two postal cards, 1918 and 1925, addressed to Mrs. H.B. Howard and four envelopes addressed to same. the former postal card sent by a soldier in France and signed “Your loving brother, Dan.”
• Typed Letter Signed by I. Cooper of of New York’s Irving M. Cooper, Artist’s Representative. Dated May 14, 1926. Requests Kaufman and Kaufman to contact him on a “very important” matter; accompanied by mailing envelope. Accompanying them are four envelopes addressed to Mr. Elmer G. Kaufman in North Wildwood, New Jersey, all postmarked 1936.
• Seven Contracts from the B.F. Keith-Albee Vaudeville Exchange of Boston and New York engaging “singing and talk act” Kaufman and Kaufman. Contacts, one dated November 9, 1925 and the others February 27, 1926, were for performances at various theaters: in Lynn, Massachusetts in December 1925 and in West Virginia and Ohio, March–April 1926.
• Newspaper clipping from the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio), March 19, 1910, with illustration; promoting the appearance of Patterson and Kaufman: “Some great piano playing and singing will be heard when they take the stage.”
• Handwritten Playscript with emendations and corrections for a two-act play, No Right of Way, A Tragedy, by Sarah Dickson Lourie and translated from the original by Mary M.N. Steward. ff, irregularly foliated. 4tos. and two half quartos, apparently complete.
• One piece of sheet music for Down in Chinatown; broadside; copyright 1920. “Here’s an Oriental Song Easy to Sing, easy to dress and better than ‘Chong’.”
Description: [Vaudeville Archive of Blackface Minstrels Howard and Fields and Singing and Talk Act, Kaufman and Kaufman].
[New York, Boston, Chicago, and elsewhere, 1910–1926]. Contracts, Typed Letters Signed, Photographs, Playscripts, etc. Itemized description below. Very good.
Notes. 1. Arthur Gillespie, “The Evolution of Minstrelsy” in The Green Book Album, A Magazine of the Passing Show Vol. II, No. 4 (October, 1909), (Chicago), p758. 2. Ibid., p761.