From Traveling Show to Vaudeville: Theatrical Spectacle In America, 1830–1910 by Robert M. LewisFrom Traveling Show to Vaudeville: Theatrical Spectacle In America, 1830–1910 by Robert M. Lewis

From Traveling Show to Vaudeville: Theatrical Spectacle In America, 1830–1910

EditorRobert M. Lewis

Paperback | October 4, 2007

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Before phonographs and moving pictures, live performances dominated American popular entertainment. Carnivals, circuses, dioramas, magicians, mechanical marvels, musicians, and theatrical troupes—all visited rural fairgrounds, small-town opera houses, and big-city palaces around the country, giving millions of people an escape from their everyday lives for a dime or a quarter. In From Traveling Show to Vaudeville, Robert M. Lewis has assembled a remarkable collection of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century primary sources that document America's age of theatrical spectacle. In eight parts, Lewis explores, in turn, dime museums, minstrelsy, circuses, melodramas, burlesque shows, Wild West shows, amusement parks, and vaudeville.

Included in this compendium are biographies, programs, ephemera produced by theatrical entrepreneurs to lure audiences to their shows, photographs, scripts, and song lyrics as well as newspaper accounts, reviews, and interviews with such figures as P. T. Barnum and Buffalo Bill Cody. Lewis also gives us reminiscences about and reactions to various shows by members of audiences, including such prominent writers as Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, O. Henry, and Maxim Gorky. Each section also includes a concise introduction that places the genre of spectacle into its historical and cultural context and suggests major interpretive themes. The book closes with a bibliographic essay that identifies relevant scholarly works.

Many of the pieces collected here have not been published since their first appearance, making From Traveling Show to Vaudeville an indispensable resource for historians of popular culture, theater, and nineteenth-century American society.

Robert M. Lewis is a lecturer in American history at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
Title:From Traveling Show to Vaudeville: Theatrical Spectacle In America, 1830–1910Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 1.03 inPublished:October 4, 2007Publisher:Johns Hopkins University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801887488

ISBN - 13:9780801887482

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic I had been looking for a book like this forever! glad I found you booky!
Date published: 2017-01-30

Table of Contents


Introduction: From Celebration to Show BusinessTHE DIME MUSEUM

Early Museum Shows

Selling and Seeing Curiosities


Dog Days of the Museum


Routines: Songs, Speeches, Dialogue, and Farce

Commentary: Rise and Fall of "Slave" Creativity


Musical Comedy: Harrigan's Mulligan Guard

Confessions of an African American Minstrel


The Circus Debated

The Early Circus

Big Business

The Audience


A Plea for an American Drama

Classic Melodrama

Classic Melodrama's Audiences

The Ten-Twenty-Thirty Melodramas"LEG SHOW"


The Black Crook

A Burlesque of Burlesque

Reactions to the Controversy

The Popular-Price CircuitTHE WILD WEST SHOW


Extracts from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Programs

Exhibiting Indians


Journalists and the "New" Coney

Showmen and the "Amusement Business"

Popular Responses

Two Critics of Coney's BanalityVAUDEVILLE

Vaudeville Defined

The Business


Editorial Reviews

Lewis's book provides not only a wealth of information but also delightful reading. It should be part of every library as a starter point for classes on American nineteenth-century public culture.