, 22 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
1/ THREAD Content warning: Images of black face and the KKK @DigitalHistory_ @Jalane_Schmidt @johnedwinmason @slaveryuva Like many others I've been trying to keep up with news related to #ResignRalph #ByeRalph #ResignNortham #ResignRalphNortham and #WeAreAllUnionHill.
2/ There’s a lot to take in but as a current graduate student @UVA I’ve tried to follow records of racism in our Corks and Curls yearbook, specifically:
3/ Of particular interest is Professor R. L. Barnes’ @DigitalHistory_ research on the name Corks and Curls as “minstrel slang for the burned cork used to blacken faces and the curly Afro wigs that were signature costume pieces.” washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/0…
4/ In reading Dr. Barnes' essay and looking at digitized versions of Corks and Curls over the past few days I was struck by a few things.
5/ The first involves the preface to C&C Vol. 1 (1888), in which the editors write that “As the name of our Annual, ‘Corks and Curls,' must be almost meaningless to an outsider, it was thought necessary to give some short explanation of the meaning of this cabalistic phrase.”
6/ The editors tell how a competition to explain the title was won by Leander Fogg, a medical student. As a prize he apparently received a chromolithograph of Henry Martin, a man who was enslaved in Albemarle County and worked as the bell ringer @UVA after Emancipation.
7/ The mention of Henry Martin is remarkable for several reasons. As the bell ringer @UVA he worked in the tower of the University Chapel, a building that according to Dr. Barnes was paid for (in small part) by funds from the University Minstrel Troupe.
8/ More important, however, is how the competition surrounding the name of C&C returned Mr. Martin to his pre-war status as a commodity and specifically [a] into an image [b] rendered in a medium [c] related to a publication that would be used to ridicule black people.
9/ In reading Dr. Barnes' article I was also struck by the narrative order implied by the name Corks and Curls and how it follows the pre-theatrical process of putting on a minstrel costume: (1) the use of cork to blacken the face; and (2) putting on an Afro wig.
10/ If we look to an early passage from The Witmark Minstrel Guide from 1899 we find "How to Black Up: An Instructive Interview," a conversation framed as a dialogue between a reporter and the minstrel show performer/ manager Frank Dumont in an opera house in Philadelphia.
11/ According to the reporter, "The members of the company were preparing their 'faces," to appear as darkies in the first part, and were applying the burnt cork."
12/ The account also includes an illustration in four parts that shows a white performer holding a tin box that contains powder made from burnt cork mixed with water. bit.ly/2Gd7nBQ
13/ The progression shown in the “how to” guide from the turn of the century thus reflects the title of our yearbook, precisely: corks and/then curls.
14/ Some very good research has been done on racist images that appear in Corks and Curls, including the 2004 exhibition "116 Years of Corks & Curls" and on the TL of @slaveryuva rarebookschool.org/all-programs/e…
15/ Because of this, I'll only share a few images that relate to the Mississippi Club (one of several “State Clubs” at the university during the early twentieth century) and entries from 1900, 1905, 1921, and 1922, respectively.
16/ And then there is the image of 4 KKK members on horseback that act as an introduction to the Clubs and Organizations section of C&C from 1922. The image is difficult to examine closely but it is important to note the burning cross in the figure's raised right hand.
17/ In taking a closer look an the image today I noticed more about its placement within the volume as well as the year it was produced. The members of the KKK appear on horseback on page 359.
18/ Go back 6 pages and you'll find 2 photographs of the unveiling of the George Rogers Clark statue. Go back 14 pages and you'll find a Rufus Holsinger photograph of the monument to Stonewall Jackson (this is within C&C, 1922; both statues were dedicated in 1921).
19/ And then on the following page we find a list of officers and members of the Jefferson Society beneath a portrait of our founder. If you ever wanted a small scale illustration of how the history of our institution is laced with white supremacy, this is it.
20/ And before anyone says such a juxtaposition is coincidental let's remember how the KKK valued Jefferson and founded their Charlottesville chapter at his grave in the summer of 1921.
21/ Some resources: the largest concentration of digitized volumes of Corks and Curls can be found in the Hathi Trust: catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/0021336…
22/ Also select early volumes in the Virgo catalog @UVA: search.lib.virginia.edu/catalog/uva-li…
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