JF Ptak Science Books Post 2539
I've written often on this blog on common and cascading racism found in marketing and entertainment in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is shocking and repulsive to see no matter how you steal yourself for the experience, no matter how prepared you are for it, no matter how much you expected it--when you get there, when you see it, it is all still unbelievable.
I went to the terrific Lester S Levy sheet music collection at Johns Hopkins University looking for early aircraft images. Moving around the online archive I bumped into a racist-something having to do with a nationality; and then, for the adventure of it and to see what there was--if anything--to see, I did a quick entry in the search box for the occurrence of a racial epithet ("coon ") in the title of a song. I expected to find some bad stuff, but I was very surprised by the extent of the results and their deeply awful nature.
Now I must make it very clear that the collection at Hopkins covers many thousands of items and each speaks to its time, and that JHU's collection addresses the interests of the era--these images are nothing more and nothing less than what was not terribly removed from what was "normal" for the time. The Levy Collection is significant and important for many reasons--I just used it in this case to investigate a curiosity, pulling bits and pieces of the collection together from its many extending areas of interest. There is no particular part of the collection that deals with racist material--these were parts of popular songs as they existed in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.
People no doubt laughed at these score covers, which were drawn so to attract interest and attention to help with making the item more attractive to purchase, an engagement in subjugation for making a nickel. What they look like today seems incredible, impossible, except of course that it wasn't; and when it was, it was sort of nothing, just another common degradation that had to be endured by millions of men, women, and children.
Anyway, this is what one slim sample of what "normal" looked like at the turn of the century.
[Warning: highly offensive material follows.]
Note: these are all hot linked to JHU--I contacted the curator of the collection to make sure that this was acceptable. I just couldn't save-and-post dozens of times for all of these terrible things.