Minstrel Songs

What is a Minstrel Song?

Minstrel songs were written in the mid-1800s to accompany the minstrel shows for entertainment. These shows were meant to present comedic sketches in the form of plays and musicals.

Today, they are most known for the racist connotations and appearance of blackface actors and singers in the musicals. These works play an important role in American history.


Popular Minstrel Music in the 1800s

Here is a list of popular minstrel songs that was originally published in Oliver Ditson’s book, Minstrel Songs, Old and New: A Collection of World-Wide, Famous Minstrel and Plantation Songs.

Song TitleSongwriter: WordsSongwriter: MusicYear Written
Old Folks at Home [aka Swanee River] Stephen Collins FosterStephen Collins Foster1851
Angel Gabriel (End Song) Frank DumontJames E. Stewart1875
Angels, Meet Me at the Cross Roads William Shakespeare HaysWilliam Shakespeare Hays1875
The Little Old Cabin in the Lane (Song and Chorus) William Shakespeare HaysWilliam Shakespeare Hays1871
Susan Jane William Shakespeare HaysWilliam Shakespeare Hays1871
The Yaller Gal That Winked at Me UnknownA. M. Hernandez1867
Ole Shady; or The Song of the Contraband Benjamin Russell HanbyBenjamin Russell Hanby1861
Darling Nelly Gray Benjamin Russell HanbyBenjamin Russell Hanby1856
The Little Brown Jug Joseph Eastburn WinnerJoseph Eastburn Winner1869
Twinkling Stars Are Laughing, Love John P. OrdwayJohn P. Ordway1855

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