It’s a measure of how strange my job is that the least interesting things to me in these photos are the cross-dressing women in blackface. In truth, I barely looked at them. Both cross-dressing and blackface were quite commonly done in entertainments in the late teens and early ’20s. These pictures are from an event called a “Stunt Party,” a show that included music, dancing and vaudeville sketches. They were a very popular collegiate amusement across the country. This one was put on by the Elizabeth Baldwin Literary Society. The photos, which I found in Pender Turnbull’s things, are dated “circa 1918-19,” but it has to be 1919.
I know that because of the wooden building on the right. You can tell from the background that the girls are across Main Street from campus. That wooden frame building can be nothing except a corner of the Rice Community House that was moved by the Episcopal Archdiocese from Camp Logan in 1919 to serve as a student center for Rice.
So a month ago we had one picture of the Community House and now we have three. I am most pleased.