Callendar Minstrels: Among the very earliest (and best known) of the black minstrel troupes to arise in the aftermath of the War. The rare, if not unique, status of this troupe was sufficient to adopt the name as an equivalency for black musicians. For this reason making mention of Callendar’s Minstrels meant that there would be little need for disambiguation or qualifiers.
Within a month of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 – laws that permitted equal access to the bars – newspapers were reporting on the flurry of test cases to establish the boundaries of public space. Union General Benjamin Butler, a supporter of the legislation, nevertheless, regarded saloons as exempt from racial integration. Some bar owners imagined that the legal questions could be dismissed by a practical means: raising the prices for drinks while simultaneously offering a substantial discount to regular customers. One incident, reprinted from the Henderson, Kentucky News, crystallized the strategy, as well as the contemporary view of the Callendars: While the Callendar Minstrels were in our city on Thursday night last a couple of them walked into a prominent bar-room on Main street and called for drinks for two. The request was forthwith obeyed, but these two sable gents were thunderstruck when, handing the polite bar-tender a one-dollar note, they received no change in return. Daily Alta Californian, April 4, 1875.
Card: A piece of pasteboard used for containing a person’s name, and often his address, or an invitation, or business advertisement. A note published by some one in the papers, containing a brief statement, explanation, request, etc. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, Springfield, MA: George & Charles Merriam, 1850.
Caricature: A drawing that offers a metonymic relationship between the subject in the world and a graphic image. This is to say that the subject is reduced by way of the caricature. From a description of an ad placed by Wm. Gladding of the Fredericks Photograph Gallery: …he is prepared to supply parties with caricatures consisting of big heads and small bodies. Persons living out of town can, by sending their picture to Mr. Gladding, get as good a grotesque picture as if they were present. Mr. Gladding has gained a great reputation in getting up these caricatures, particularly in the profession. New York Clipper, December 17, 1864
Celestial: a slang label for Chinese immigrants; used by a wide range of American immigrants who had settled at a point prior to the new arrivals.
Chromos: A lithographic technology that reproduced imagery in colors. A chromograph, or chromo, was the completed product of this technology.
Civil Rights: The introduction and passage of civil rights legislation during the 1870’s (Reconstruction) was a complex process that played out in the public arena. It included state and federal efforts, as well as municipal ones. Minstrels took an interest in the relationship between the legal understanding of “civil” and the unwritten codes of behavior or “civility” of social life. The naming of a character called “Uncivil William” is an example of this play on the two understandings. Sketches were quickly penned (and peddled) titled "civil rights" and "test case."
Colored Drama: An autobiographical description of the minstrel shows performed by George Christy during the 1860’s. Christy’s skits had a significant influence upon the evolution of the genre. The terms also underscore his view of the performances as one variety of “legitimate drama.”
Combination: From which derives the shortened combo, a small collection of musicians. However, the nineteenth-century sense of the term was applied broadly to performance, hence a stock theatrical troupe could be called a combination; as in Ben Cotton’s Combination.
Corn Shucking: Less frequent, corn shocking. Community gatherings at harvest time to remove the husks. Anyone was welcome. Playing fiddle or banjo at this event was common.
We'goin' to the shuckin'/ We're goin' to the shuckin'/ We're goin' to the shuckin' of the corn./ And we'll stay all day tomorrow/ We'll stay until the breakin' of the dawn/ As sure as you're born. Lyrics for a banjo duet, performed in San Francisco in 1855 by Joe Murphy and Jake Wallace. Works Project Administration, San Francisco Theatre Research, Volume Thirteen, Minstrelsy, 1939.
The original title for Dan Emmett's famous ballad, "I Wish Were in Dixie," was subtitled:
Counterfeit Presentment: An acknowledgement of the deceptive image or the represented reality in a photograph. At the conclusion of a long listing of celebrity photographs for sale by Chas. H. Day of New Haven, Connecticut: …you can scarcely mention the name of any prominent professional but that we can furnish you with his “counterfeit presentment.” New York Clipper, March 5, 1864
Cut: A picture cut or carved on wood or metal, valuable for promotional purposes. In 1880, Charles Forbes, manager, advertised that for the play “Black Diamonds,” he had the finest collection of printing OF ALL KINDS, CUTS, LITHOGRAPHS, etc. of any company traveling. New York Clipper, October 16, 1880, p. 235.