African American

Fascinating Women: Bessie Smith and the Blues

Many music historians–and historians in general–consider the musical genres that emerged from African-American communities at the turn of the century to be the first authentically “American” style of music. Ragtime, blues, jazz, and the like are also considered the soundtrack of early twentieth century American life, and the combination of the popular press, new technologies …

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African American

Black Business in the Gilded Age: Poro Beauty College

Beauty culture was big business at the turn of the century, and just as the beauty industry liberated women like Helena Rubenstein, Harriet Hubbard Ayer, and Elizabeth Arden, among others, it also liberated black women. Madame C.J. Walker’s fame as the first black millionairess has overshadowed America’s other successful black beauty businesswoman, Annie Turnbo Malone. …

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African American

The Mid-Winter Assembly, Baltimore, 1912

In 1908, William H. Bishop, Jr. invariably identified as “belonging to one of the oldest families in Maryland,” who was clerk in the Internal Revenue Service for thirty-five years, succeeded in pulling together the various rival factions in Baltimore’s black elite into a single organization, known as The Baltimore Assembly. Bishop served as its president …

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