Narrowing Research: Research Update 4

This week I decided to narrow down my research to focus specifically on the history of blackface in the student culture of William and Mary. In the beginning, the discovery of the alleged photo of Governor Ralph Northam in the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook sparked my interest in studying William and Mary’s yearbooks. After looking through evidence in the Colonial Echo, I have begun to search The Flat Hat to find student opinions and reactions to the presence of blackface both in the yearbook and in student culture in general.

I’ve also been collecting secondary research to create a base of context for the history of blackface in America. While there is not a huge base of scholarship on the history of blackface specifically at colleges, many higher education institutions such as the University of Richmond and Princeton University have released information on the history of blackface and minstrelsy at their universities. This information will be helpful for me as I continue to examine how presentations of black culture changed over time at William and Mary as the school has continued to grow in cultural diversity and inclusiveness.