Banjo: A rude sort of guitar, a favorite instrument with the Negroes. The term itself is probably of negro origin. John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms, 4th ed, 1877.
Benefit: A public performance that usually reaped a financial gain for a headlining performer.
Bones: An American castanet.
Brogans: Before I left Hilton Head, I saw as many as one hundred negroes, who had come into our camps, and they were constantly arriving. At Bay Point I was informed there were as many more. As soon as they made their appearance they were huddled into a dilapidated building which was strongly guarded. All ages were represented, but only the male sex. Until I saw and conversed with the greater number of these persons I believed that the appearance and intelligence of Southern field hands were greatly libeled by the delineators of negro character at the concert saloons. Now I cannot but acknowledge that instead of gross exaggerations the "minstrels" give representations which are faithful to nature. There were the same grotesque dresses, awkward figures, and immense brogans which are to be seen every night at Bryant's or Christy's. New York Times, November 13, 1861.
Truly there is a wide field for benevolence among the colored population of this State (South Carolina) during the Winter upon which we are entering, and the thousands which the Northern people are contributing toward the political, educational, and religious regeneration of the emancipated slaves might be far more sensibly applied, just now, to the distribution among them of brogans, blankets and bread. One of the freedmen, in the course of his address to the meeting, expressed the trust that the Government, which had given them their freedom, would interpose to save them from the otherwise inevitable results from this year's failure in the crop, and at least help them to live until they can gather another harvest. New York Times, November 30, 1866.
Burlesque: As the 20th century advanced, burlesque was understood to be a theatrical performance that featured women with fewer and fewer articles of clothing. However, during the heights of minstrel popularity between 1850 and 1870, burlesque was a comic rendition of public figures and legitimate theatre. To burlesque (a verb) was to make fun of or mock.
Burnt Cork: The burning, or charring, of cork produced soot that was applied to the skin of the corkologist. The blackened minstrel then played the role of a black man in a musical or theatrical performance. The importance of the preparation of the burnt cork, and its application in minstrelsy, account for the symbolic elevation of this substance to a generic synonym for minstrels, or “burnt cork artists.” It is uncertain – and probably not worth dwelling upon – if the fetish (the burnt cork) made one an “artist” or a “negro.” In the 19th century, it was unimaginable that both might be the case, as in a “negro artist.”