The Legacy of “Jim Crow”

These artifacts depict particularly ugly and sadistic stereotypes—images of supposed natives, bug-eyed buffoons, and simpleminded children—that originated in the slaveholding days of the nineteenth century and remained popular in the South and elsewhere throughout the civil rights era.

While this imagery was varied, and worked in multiple ways, its inevitable purpose in southern culture was to further the cause of so-called Jim Crow segregation laws by distinguishing between the humanity and supremacy of white people and the alleged “inferiority” of black people.


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“Minstrel” Makeup Kit, c. 1950s
Minstrel Makeup Kit, c. 1950s
"Minstrel" Makeup Kit, c. 1950s
Offset lithograph on paper, plastic, greasepaint
Dimensions variable
Collection of Civil Rights Archive/CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, Maryland, 2008.19.a-d
Birthday Card, c. 1940s
Birthday Card, c. 1940s
Birthday Card, c. 1940s
Offset lithograph on paper
4 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.
Collection of Civil Rights Archive/CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, Maryland, 2005.177
Clean Fun Starring Shoogafoots Jones, 1946
Clean Fun Starring Shoogafoots Jones, 1946
Clean Fun Starring Shoogafoots Jones, 1946
9 7/8 in x 6 7/16 in.
Collection of Civil Rights Archive/CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, Maryland, 2005.90
Letter Opener and Pencil, c. 1950s
Letter Opener and Pencil, c. 1950s
Letter Opener and Pencil, c. 1950s
Celluloid, wood, graphite
1 3/4 x 7 3/4 in.
Collection of Civil Rights Archive/CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, Maryland, 2008.21.a-b