Now Performing: "Aunt Jemima" and "Uncle Tom"

    At the start of 1894, the Ed. F. Davis UTC Company played a one-week run at Cincinnati's Pike Opera House. As you can see from the CAST LIST and SCENE SYNOPSIS in the program, Davis' troupe put on a typical "Tom Show." There's one very dramatic thing, however, about the program itself: the full-page ad on the fourth of the pages below is for a different kind of show, starring another of white America's favorite racial representations -- "Aunt Jemima."

    "Aunt Jemima" was created a white businessman to sell his pancake mix. She was first played by Nancy Green, who had been born a slave in 1834. Although the stereotype of the bandanna-wearing black female cook dates back at least as far as Stowe's "Uncle Tom" (and is even connected to such Stowe characters as Aunt Chloe and Dinah), "Aunt Jemima" was less than a year old when she and Tom crossed paths in Cincinnati. Her image first came to America's attention in the summer of 1893 through the promotional show staged around her at the Chicago world's fair (called the Columbian Exposition) . She seems to be "in town" as part of a national tour, and it's likely that for the next couple decades "THE ORIGINAL AUNT JEMIMA" and Uncle Tom as enacted by any of dozens of Tommers often appeared in the same locales. This, though, is the earliest instance I've found.

Click on any page or section to see enlargement.

Dyer and Cleaner Fine Tailoring ANNOUNCEMENT Waists, Collars and Tickets
Aunt Jemima in Town 3 ads SYNOPSIS Havana Cigars

Courtesy Mary Schlosser.

Return to sitemap. Return to homepage for this section. Search this section or the whole site.