“The Drama Is—Rubbish”: The Early Impact of ‘The Black Crook,’ the Shocking and Scandalous American Musical

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“The Black Crook”—the progenitor of spectacular theater in the United States—opened at Niblo’s Garden, a 3,000-seat New York City playhouse, on September 12, 1866. Whether this American musical can be called the country’s first, “The Black Crook” had an immense impact on the future of popular entertainment in the U.S.  Its initial production ran for nearly 500 performances and created a nationwide mania, stimulated by the clergy who railed against its abundant display of female pulchritude.

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In his preface to “The Naked Truth!”: An Inside History of The Black Crook (1897), digitized from the holdings of the New-York Historical Society and found in American Pamphlets, Joseph Whitton wrote:

It is curious that the history of the Black Crook—the pioneer of the American Spectacular Drama, and greater in tinseled gorgeousness and money-drawing power than any of its followers—should never have been told, or, rather, truthfully told.

Whitton by his own account had a “connection with the financial department of Niblo’s Garden, previous to the production and during the run of the Crook,” which “enables him to know the facts…”

“The Drama Is—Rubbish”: The Early Impact of ‘The Black Crook,’ the Shocking and Scandalous American Musical

Now Open for Bidding: Silent Auction to Support 2019 GODORT Scholarship

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Established in 1994, the W. David Rozkuszka Scholarship provides financial assistance to an individual who is 1) currently working with government documents in a library and 2) trying to complete a master’s degree in library science.

photosDavid_0.jpgSponsored by Readex and GODORT (American Library Association’s Government Documents Round Table), the award is named after W. David Rozkuszka, a former Documents Librarian at Stanford University whose talent, work ethic and personality left an indelible mark on the profession.

The scholarship award is $3,000, and has assisted 24 students since 1995 with their library education. The 2019 recipients were Ben Chiewphasa and Lauren Hall. Ben is currently pursuing an MLIS degree at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Lauren is an MLIS student at San José State University and works full-time as a Resource Management Specialist at California State University.

Place your bid today to stay in beautiful Naples, Florida, or charming Chester, Vermont. Auction bidding ends at 4 pm EST on Monday, July 1, 2019.

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Thank you for supporting GODORT and the W. David Rozkuszka Scholarship!

Now Open for Bidding: Silent Auction to Support 2019 GODORT Scholarship

‘Savage Sessions: The Lost History of Congressional Violence in Antebellum America’ – Announcing the 2019 Readex ALA Breakfast Event

Readex will host a special breakfast presentation titled “Savage Sessions: The Lost History of Congressional Violence in Antebellum America” at the 2019 American Library Association conference in Washington, D.C.  An open discussion will follow the talk by Joanne B. Freeman, Professor of History and American Studies, Yale University.

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About the Presentation

In 1856, on the eve of the Civil War, a South Carolina congressman named Preston Brooks viciously attacked Senator Charles Sumner, an outspoken Massachusetts abolitionist, as he sat at his desk in the U.S. Senate chamber. Sumner’s caning is unquestionably the most famous violent incident in Congress, but it was far from the only one.

After more than fifteen years of research and writing, historian Joanne Freeman—a leading authority on early American political culture—has uncovered roughly 70 incidents of physical violence in the House and Senate chambers in the decades leading up to the Civil War, most of them long forgotten. Fistfights, guns and knives, canings, duels, and all-out brawls were essentially censored out of the period’s equivalent of the Congressional Record. These incidents show how violence—both the threat of it and the actual fact of it—was a tool of debate on the part of Southerners who threatened Northerners into compliance or silence on the contentious issue of slavery.

About the Presenter

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‘Savage Sessions: The Lost History of Congressional Violence in Antebellum America’ – Announcing the 2019 Readex ALA Breakfast Event

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