Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield was first in a lineage of African American women vocalists to earn national and international acclaim. Born into slavery in Mississippi, she grew up in Philadelphia and launched her first North American concert tour from upstate New York in 1851. Hailed as the “Black Swan” by newspapermen involved in her debut, the soubriquet prefigured a complicated reception of her musical performances. As an African American musician with slavery in her past, she sang what many Americans understood to be “white” music (opera arias, sentimental parlor song, ballads of British Isles, and hymns) from the stages graced by touring European prima donnas on other nights, with ability to sing in a low vocal range that some heard as more typical of men than women. As reviewers and audiences combined fragments of her biography with first-hand experiences of her concerts, they struggled to make the “Black Swan” sobriquet meaningful and the transgressions she represented understandable. Greenfield's musical performances, along with audience expectations and the processes of patronage, management, and newspaper discourse complicated perceived cultural boundaries of race, gender, and class. The implications of E. T. Greenfield's story for antebellum cultural politics and for later generations of singers are profound.

In October of 1851, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield made her public debut and launched a two-year tour of the Northern United States and Northeastern Canada. Hailed as the “Black Swan” by newspaper critics, the vocalist attracted nationwide attention for her musical accomplishments and for her identity as a former slave—a biographical fact that profoundly influenced her reception. She sang opera arias, sentimental parlor songs, ballads of the British Isles, and the occasional hymn. This was the popular music of her day, common to public and private spaces, both concert stages graced by touring European prima donnas and domestic parlors where women presided over family pianos. The “Black Swan” sobriquet exemplified the nineteenth-century practice of referring to female singers with bird nicknames, aligning Greenfield with such stars as Jenny Lind (the “Swedish Nightingale”), who were then launching similar tours of North America. However, the obviously racialized “Black Swan” sobriquet also called attention to Greenfield's former slave status and thus simultaneously distanced her from these European contemporaries.

Newspaper discourse depicted the “Black Swan” as an exotic rarity, and in reality, Greenfield had few contemporaries in the national spotlight. The renowned African American anti-slavery and women's rights activist, Sojourner Truth, also began public speaking in 1851, but in the musical world, Europeans were still the best-known touring artists in the United States. Blackface minstrelsy was nearing its height in popularity when Greenfield entered public life, and white Americans living in the North at this time were likely more familiar with comic presentations of “black music” common to minstrel stages than they were with any music performed by African Americans. Very few African American musicians attracted national attention in the nineteenth century, and most rose to fame only after the Civil War, among them Nellie Brown Mitchell, Matilda Sissieretta Jones, Marie Selika Williams, and ensembles such as the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Scholars have established Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield's rightful place as first in a lineage of African American women vocalists who earned nationwide acclaim and deserve scholarly attention,1 but a closer examination of Greenfield's early career is needed and will reveal as much about her mid-nineteenth-century audience as it will about this remarkable musician herself.

This essay revises and contextualizes biographical details that shaped Greenfield's public image as the “Black Swan,” and it interprets how she entered mainstream American culture with her inaugural tour. Her reception was more complicated than has been previously understood, with Greenfield's unprecedented performances evoking a variety of responses including adulation, benevolence, paternalism, curiosity, confusion, criticism, and ridicule. As a formerly enslaved African American, Greenfield sang what midcentury Americans understood to be “white” music, a decade before the Civil War. For some, her performances fell in between their conceptions of “black” and “white” music.2 Reviewers authenticated her tie to slavery, compared and contrasted her to both Jenny Lind and characters from blackface minstrelsy, and employed the concept of “mulatto” to explain the mixture of cultural markers the “Black Swan” represented. Reviewers used not only racialized language to describe the novelty of “Black Swan” performances, but they combined this with overlapping gendered and class-based discourses to mark Greenfield as a marginalized Other.3 When Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield stepped onto public stages in 1851, singing as the “Black Swan,” none of the expectations about black, white, feminine, masculine, popular, or high-class music held by her audiences in the Northern United States would have been wholly satisfied. In short, she embodied and performed contradictions that arose from midcentury interests in and anxieties about crossing perceived racial, gender, and class boundaries.

In the absence of an authoritative biography of Greenfield, twentieth and twenty-first century writers have necessarily relied on nineteenth-century biographies for information about her early life, debut, and initial public reception. A biographical pamphlet titled The Black Swan At Home and Abroad, published in Philadelphia in 1855 to be sold as a concert souvenir, has been the most influential document, since it provided the biographical content and many of the concert reviews for James Trotter's Music and Some Highly Musical People (1878),4 a publication still widely cited today. Nineteenth-century biographies typically begin with Greenfield's birth into slavery, report a supposed lack of education, note the prominent role of her former slave owner as benefactor, and summarize a favorable newspaper reception of her 1851 public debut. Throughout her first concert tour of 1851–53, newspapers nationwide used these biographical details to shape the public image of the “Black Swan” and thereby influenced audience expectations for Greenfield's performances. In light of continued scholarly interest in Greenfield's performances as the “Black Swan,”5 there is need to revisit the standard story of her life and to interpret, rather than simply repeat, the nineteenth-century accounts of her career.

Attempting biographical research for a woman born into slavery and whose correspondence and papers are largely lost to history is, of course, challenging. The mid-nineteenth-century biographies originally published to aid the marketing of the “Black Swan” remain valuable; however, here they will be used as points of departure and will be historicized as artifacts themselves. To these known published sources, this study adds additional primary sources such as the Philadelphia Abolition Society papers, wills and estate records, city directories, census records, concert programs, and playbills. Historical sheet music collections preserve contemporary arrangements of the music she performed and that her audiences likely knew well. Most importantly, extensive nineteenth-century newspaper coverage of her debut tour enables a reconstruction of her first touring route and interpretation of her initial reception. Hundreds of short and unsigned newspaper reviews that repeat the same adjectives may seem at first inconsequential as documentation of a musician's reception, but as newspaper discourse shaped audience expectations and concert experiences, the “Black Swan” persona emerged nationwide.

Chronologically, this essay explores Greenfield's life up through the midcentury process of her becoming known in American culture as the “Black Swan,” but it also aims to provoke consideration of her legacy. More than a decade before Emancipation, Greenfield's musical voice and presence on concert stages forced audiences to consider, and sometimes reconsider, their perceptions of social identities as they intersected with abolition politics. Even though Greenfield's manager steered her clear of any overt political statements during this first tour, the “Black Swan” became a powerful public symbol for Americans on both sides of the slavery question. Besides influencing American cultural politics in the years leading up to the Civil War and abolition, Greenfield paved the way for later generations of singers, while her reviewers set precedence for how these singers would be perceived. Even though many reviewers used comparison to European singers as a way to praise her musical abilities, their fascination with her low voice, characterization of her trained voice as “natural,” and constant speculation over her “true” racial identity (along with gender and class identity) is both a continuation of white Americans' fascination with slave song and a foreshadowing of the reception later generations of African American singers would face.6 Greenfield's early life and the reception of her inaugural tour clearly have implications that reach far beyond the antebellum years.

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield's Early Life

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield's birth into slavery in the American South was the biographical detail most widely publicized during her first tour, and her names reflect this context. She was born at some point between 1817 and 1826, on a plantation near Natchez, Mississippi.7 Her “Greenfield” surname came from the family that owned her and her mother, Anna Greenfield. “Taylor” might have been her father's (whose identity remains unknown) or a family name, and she occasionally used the name Elizabeth (or Eliza) Taylor on some official documentation at different points in her life.8 This suggests that the Taylor name was personally important to her, and possibly signals her desire to drop the “Greenfield” name that signified slave status. Her first name, Elizabeth, was that of her mistress. Elizabeth Holliday and Jesse Greenfield, who married in Philadelphia in 1773, moved to the Mississippi Territory and were living there at least by the time of the Spanish Census in 1792.9 After Jesse Greenfield died, his widow supervised the settling of the estate, thereby inheriting substantial assets. Elizabeth H. Greenfield then married fellow plantation owner Benjamin Roach of Adams County, Mississippi, in 1811.10 She and Roach held slaves on their lands in Mississippi, but possessing a keen sense of fiscal independence and business acumen, she retained personal ownership of some lands and slaves inherited from her first husband11 and made independent decisions about estate management and philanthropy.12 Elizabeth H. Greenfield divorced Roach not long after marrying him, and by the early 1820s had resettled to Philadelphia while continuing to oversee her holdings of real estate and slaves in the South.13 She was at this time in the process of freeing her slaves, bringing some to Philadelphia, and arranging with the American Colonization Society to send others to Liberia. E. T. Greenfield's mother, Anna Greenfield, was among eighteen formerly enslaved African Americans from the Greenfield plantation who sailed from Norfolk, Virginia (via New Orleans) to Caldwell, Liberia aboard the brig Criterion on August 2, 1831.14 E. T. Greenfield, however, remained with her former owner who served as her guardian in Philadelphia. The eighty-eight day journey resulted in the safe arrival of all the adult passengers to Caldwell,15 and even though E. H. Greenfield pledged to pay for Anna Greenfield's passage back to North America, should she desire to return,16 there is no evidence of further communication between those who went to Liberia and those who stayed in the United States.

Although born into slavery on a Mississippi plantation, E. T. Greenfield may not have had any memory of Southern life because, according to her own recollection, she grew up in E. H. Greenfield's Philadelphia home until the age of seven or eight.17 In fact, her earliest childhood memories probably were formed in the well-appointed three-story brick house at 371 Mulberry Street (later called Arch Street).18 Over the years, the young woman became closely acquainted with the upper-class white neighbors, relatives, and friends of her guardian, as indicated by those who would later write letters to authenticate biographical details of her early life.19 Some neighbors were Quakers motivated by their religion to look kindly upon African Americans living in their midst. Several Quaker Meeting Houses existed within a few blocks of the Greenfield home.20 In addition, the elderly Elizabeth H. Greenfield occasionally attended Quaker meetings, and she supported the Society of Friends financially.21 Despite having been born into slavery, E. T. Greenfield shared much cultural background with European Americans and free-born African Americans living in Philadelphia.

Nineteenth-century biographies and newspapers, as well as current reference books based upon them, depict the young singer as uneducated. In fact, E. T. Greenfield was clearly literate and formally educated in modes common among elite African Americans of Philadelphia at that time. She likely received her earliest education in reading and writing in the Mulberry/ Arch Street neighborhood, either directly from her guardian, or from friends and relatives who frequented the home. Education for African Americans was one of the primary charity missions of Philadelphia Quakers, who provided private tutelage and organized classes, sometimes out of their homes.22 E. T. Greenfield attended Clarkson School in 1833, which could be about the time she left E. H. Greenfield's house.23 The segregated public schools of Philadelphia would have been an option for less well-off African American children, as they were not charging fees, but for those who could pay tuition, private Quaker-run schools, such as Clarkson, were perceived to be better options.24 At Clarkson, she would have studied reading, writing, and mathematics. Music was not typically part of formal education by Quakers, and exactly how she learned to read and perform music is difficult to document, as it is for nineteenth-century women and African Americans generally. Nonetheless, the ability to read music, sing, and play parlor instruments would have been an accomplishment expected of both upper-class European American and African American women of Philadelphia.25 The developing musician no doubt grew up with skilled musical amateurs around her, and in the wider community there existed a thriving musical culture including prominent African American professionals such as the Philadelphia-based Francis Johnson and his band members.26 Numerous teachers of piano, guitar, harp, and voice were active in Philadelphia, and many lived near the Greenfield home.27 According to both the mid-nineteenth-century biographies of Greenfield published in London and Philadelphia, a daughter in the Price family who lived in the Mulberry/Arch Street neighborhood in Philadelphia played music with her and taught her to play the piano, after she had already learned to accompany herself on guitar and harp.28 A Price family did own property near the Greenfield home during the time that the young musician would have lived there,29 so a version of this story is likely true, but this experience probably does not deserve the prominence given to it in the nineteenth-century sources which insist that, aside from the informal tutoring at the Price family piano, E. T. Greenfield remained uneducated and wholly self-taught. Her Quaker schooling had provided a foundation for her to learn music, and in all likelihood, she combined self-study, casual tutoring with neighbors and friends, and private instruction from professional musicians.

Nineteenth-century biographies are mostly silent about Greenfield's relationship to African Americans, and emphasize instead the role of white patrons and benefactors. However, growing up in the Arch Street neighborhood would not have isolated her from African Americans. Philadelphia neighborhoods would become more racially segregated midcentury and after the Civil War, but in the 1830s, African Americans lived and worked in every Philadelphia neighborhood, including the South and North Mulberry wards containing E. H. Greenfield's properties.30 While a small number of African Americans in Philadelphia still worked under legal slavery in the 1820s, by 1848, Pennsylvania's gradual abolition legislation had taken full effect, and Philadelphia became home to one of the largest communities of free African Americans in antebellum America. Philadelphia Quakers of European descent established and led abolition societies, such as the Pennsylvania Abolition Society and other charities, since the preceding century, and by the 1830s and 1840s, the PAS and newly established societies, such as the American Abolition Society, Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, and the Philadelphia Free Produce Society, were more racially integrated, with African Americans assuming some leadership roles. Even though most African Americans living in Philadelphia struggled in service jobs or were reliant on the charity of benevolent societies, by the 1830s an elite class of African Americans had become prominent reform leaders, entrepreneurs, religious leaders, and professional musicians who could have served as inspiration to the young Greenfield as she built her career.31 

The Philadelphia of Greenfield's young adulthood would have provided her not only contact with multiple communities but also vivid displays of race- and class-based disparities and conflicts. By the end of the 1840s, Philadelphia had an extensive network of African American churches, schools, benevolent societies and literary groups unmatched by any other American city.32 Nonetheless, upwardly mobile African Americans of Philadelphia faced ridicule and violence, which manifested in riots that destroyed businesses owned by African Americans or individuals perceived to be mulatto, as well as churches and sites of racially integrated assemblies.33 Fear of racial integration, perceptions of upper class blacks “acting white,” and rumors that abolitionists promoted amalgamation fueled these violent riots, including the crowd of several thousand who destroyed Pennsylvania Hall just days after the Anti-Slavery Society opened it in May of 1838. Rioting continued the next night, burning to the ground a Quaker-run shelter for orphaned African American children, as well as an African American church.34 Readers of the nineteenth-century biographies and contemporary reference sources based on them do not get an appreciation for the persistent danger that Greenfield and other African Americans faced, particularly those, like Greenfield, who associated with whites.

In the late 1830s, E. T. Greenfield returned to 371 Arch Street to care for the then elderly E. H. Greenfield.35 Freed slaves were often indentured to some years of service to the former slave owner, and there may have been such an expectation in this case, but the situation here is atypical because the younger woman was paid wages for nursing the elderly woman in her declining years.36 When E. H. Greenfield died in 1845, she left a detailed will that divided up her large estate valued at over $177, 000.37 Included were instructions that the sum of $1500 provided for Anna Greenfield's return from Liberia was to go to the daughter if unused, and the will assigned to the singer an additional $500 plus $100 continual annuity.38 However, Philadelphia-based trustees and lawyers suspended the payments for over a decade while they debated the wealthy widow's intentions and mental condition at the time of signing the will.39 Regardless of E. H. Greenfield's intentions and the widespread perception of her as a generous benefactor, surviving correspondence and court records show that E. T. Greenfield did not receive the inheritance by the time of her first concert tour. Her somewhat privileged upbringing did not exempt her from financial struggle as an adult. E. H. Greenfield's death in 1845 left the young musician out of work and homeless, and, without the inheritance promised to her, needing to make her own living. Most African American women in this situation worked as domestic servants, but Greenfield cut a different path for herself. Within five years, she developed enough musical skill to establish herself as a music teacher in Philadelphia.40 Although overlooked by nineteenth-century biographers intent on presenting Greenfield as a perpetual student, teaching was her first music profession, and one she quickly combined with performance to support herself.

E. T. Greenfield's Performance Debut

Greenfield put teaching aside for a couple of years when, in the fall of 1851, she left Philadelphia for Buffalo, New York, and then launched a national tour. Mid-nineteenth-century biographies tell a story of Greenfield meeting a wealthy woman on the voyage across Seneca Lake, who, upon hearing Greenfield play guitar and sing, invited her to stay with her in Buffalo.41 This would have been Electra Potter, wife of attorney Herman B. Potter. Well connected to other wealthy citizens of Buffalo, the Potters were active in city leadership, moral reform work, and educational philanthropy.42 Greenfield provided musical entertainment in the Potter home for a private gathering they hosted on October 9, 1851, and the local press promptly reported the event. Under the headline, “A Black Swan!” the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser introduced Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield to an American public the next day. Owing to the uniqueness of her performance and this sensationalized sobriquet, the national press quickly picked up her story. In the first few months of nationwide public discourse, newspapers occasionally attempted to coin other nicknames for her such as “Swan of Africa,”43 “African Black Bird,”44 “sable prima donna,”45 “African nightingale,”46 and “colored Jenny Lind,”47 but the “Black Swan” sobriquet given to her by Buffalo newspaper writers stuck. Print media and advertisement referred to her as the “Black Swan” for the rest of her life, and it became a stage name she chose to continue using later in her career, even when she had more control of managing her own performances.

Some of those who heard her sing at the Potter home quickly made arrangements for a formal public debut and announced this in the local newspapers.48 Thirty-four men signed their names to the announcement, including Everett L. Baker, a local clerk and pianist49 (who would accompany her at her public debut), along with Buffalo-based lawyers,50 business proprietors,51 bankers and land brokers,52 merchants,53 doctors,54 publishers and newspaper editors,55 and a few involved professionally in music.56 That such testimonials were an integral part of advertising her first public concerts speaks to the unprecedented nature of Greenfield's musical accomplishments, as well as the likelihood of potential audiences to doubt the seriousness or reputation of a woman performing publicly, to presume that a former slave singing operatic repertoire and parlor songs from a concert stage to be a joke, or to suspect trickery. Whereas such public endorsements were not uncommon for musicians entering the nineteenth-century American stage, as an African American woman, Greenfield's acceptance into the public sphere required the support of upper-class white men. Nathaniel Rogers, innkeeper at Phelps House, Buffalo's temperance hotel, was among these supporters, and was the individual who reportedly introduced Greenfield to the president of the Buffalo Musical Association, Hiram E. Howard.57 Greenfield sang a rehearsal at Townsend Hall on the afternoon of October 17, 1851, to this group of local amateurs, and newspaper coverage of this private rehearsal helped to advertise the first public concert a few days later. An overflowing crowd of audience members, each paying fifty cents admission, gathered at Townsend Hall on the evening of October 22, 1851, to hear her sing Italian opera arias and sentimental songs that would have been familiar to her audience as repertoire common to middle- and upper-class parlors and concert stages.58 In all likelihood, she had performed in African American Churches59 before the “debut” in Buffalo, but the public attention she received in Buffalo in the fall of 1851 and subsequent nationwide coverage was unprecedented. The Buffalo reporters and editors had tremendous influence in shaping audience expectations, as newspapers in New England and the Midwest reprinted their words ahead of E. T. Greenfield's arrival in their cities.

Greenfield's singing voice and growing fame also caught the attention of African American patrons at this early stage. According to Frederick Douglass's Paper published in nearby Rochester, William F. Johnson, a blind African American who was lecturing in New York in this period, urged Hiram E. Howard to lift race-based seating regulations at Townsend Hall during her concert. Nonetheless, a special note under the concert advertisement in newspapers read: “The gallery will be expressly reserved for the accommodation of persons of Color, who may wish to attend the Concert.”60 Johnson, together with leaders of the local African American Presbyterian and Baptist churches, then asked Greenfield to refuse to perform in a venue that insisted on discriminatory seating polices, but the concert went ahead as advertised. Even though Buffalo, like Philadelphia, had a large population of African American citizens in the 1850s, only twenty-four were present at Greenfield's debut performance.61 Racially segregated public spaces would be common in the United States for more than a hundred more years; thus, this call for desegregation this early in history is striking.

After this eventful October of 1851, Greenfield slipped out of public view for about a month before performing her next concert in Rochester, New York. Proceedings unfolded as they did for the Buffalo debut, with a public invitation62 signed by local businessmen,63 lawyers,64 newspaper editors and publishers,65 bankers,66 city officials,67 and other professionals.68 A large population of free African Americans lived in Rochester, but as in Buffalo, none was included among the men signing the invitation for the mainstream press. The concert in Rochester took place December 11, 1851, at Corinthian Hall, which was packed to capacity with about eight hundred people.69 Greenfield performed a program of ten songs and two encore pieces, similar to that which she sang in Buffalo, but with a new accompanist, Hobson, advertised as pianist to Jenny Lind. Ticket prices had doubled to one dollar, and in dramatic contrast to the Buffalo concert, African Americans were well represented in the audience.70 

The First National Tour of the “Black Swan”

After popular success in Buffalo and Rochester spurred widespread newspaper coverage across the country, Greenfield undoubtedly received the attention of more than one enterprising manager. “Where's Barnum?” newspapers asked when reporting on Greenfield's initial popular success, implying that P. T. Barnum, who was in the midst of managing and promoting the American tour of Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale,” was missing an opportunity to exhibit Lind's American counterpart. The “Black Swan” had already earned popular notoriety and some economic success performing in two cities without well-connected management.71 (“Where's Barnum?” had become a common tag line in this period, used whenever someone attracted curiosity and showed potential for commercial exploitation.72) In between the Buffalo and Rochester performances, Greenfield may have entered into an agreement with two African American men from Philadelphia, whose names are unfortunately unknown, to manage her budding performance career,73 but in the winter of 1851, Greenfield took on the white agent James H. Wood.74 Wood was at that time building his own career in theater and museum management, which he would eventually pursue in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia, but his association with P. T. Barnum likely impressed Greenfield and the Buffalo patrons who were advising her.75 Unlike Greenfield's upstate New York patrons impressed with her musical skills and motivated by benevolence, and in some cases, anti-slavery activism, Wood was an entrepreneur motivated by profit. He heard the marketing potential in Greenfield's voice, and he saw the exhibition prospects of the nationwide newspaper attention already lavished on the “Black Swan.”

Under Wood's management, Greenfield continued concertizing in New York and from there launched an extensive tour across the Northern states and Canada, following railroad, river and lake transportation routes well traveled by other touring musicians.76 Before the end of January, she had given several concerts a week, beginning with a Christmas Eve performance in Lockport, New York, and then continuing on to Utica, Albany, and Troy. Besides enduring a relentless concert schedule and nearly continuous travel, she met with other hardships during this first month. In Springfield, Massachusetts, she fled a burning hotel and lost one hundred dollars worth of music when fire completely destroyed Hampden House, where she was lodging.77 Although the Germania orchestra reportedly declined to accompany her concerts in Boston,78 she performed there with a New York–based pianist, composer, and teacher from Germany.79 Before the end of February, she performed in several more New England cities including Salem, Taunton, Lowell, New Bedford, Worchester, and Providence, and started working with yet another accompanist, H. C. Becht, who joined her for the rest of the tour. She spent March in her agent's home state of Ohio, singing in Springfield and Sandusky, and repeatedly in each of the major cities of Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. Following common transportation routes, she moved from Ohio to Michigan in April, and then to the port cities along Lake Michigan in Illinois and Wisconsin including Chicago, Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee. After one more swing through major cities of Ohio, she headed back east. Returning to familiar patrons and audiences in Buffalo and Rochester in May must have felt like a homecoming for her, but the tour continued several more weeks, during which she sang in cities of Vermont as well as Northeastern Canada through early summer.80 

Throughout this initial tour, newspapers consistently reported audience sizes between five hundred and over one thousand people. Under Wood's management, she would have had little negotiating power, and she sang in halls with a variety of race-based admission and seating regulations. In April, newspapers reported controversy over African Americans being barred from attending several performances in the cities of Cincinnati,81 Columbus,82 and Detroit.83 These occasions rekindled discussion of Greenfield's involvement in discrimination. Her African American defenders and critics expressed their views in the pages of Frederick Douglass's Paper, the Liberator, and Voice of the Fugitive. Both men and women attended Greenfield's concerts, and while the poorest of working class Americans would not have been able to afford the tickets that usually cost between fifty cents and one dollar, both middle class and wealthy Americans attended. Newspapers often reported the presence of local dignitaries such as the New York Governor and his family together with legislators at concerts in Albany84 and the Lieutenant Governor and his wife, with legislators attending a performance in Troy.85 Upper-class citizens in many cities served as patrons and advisors to Greenfield as the Potters and members of the Buffalo Musical Association had done initially. In Boston, for example, she performed a rehearsal for a select group of the local elite, hosted in the music room of Boston piano manufacturer Chickering, and testimonials from this salon performance were used to advertise the public concerts ahead.86 

Women in attendance at Greenfield's concerts took particular interest in her stage presence and appearance. For example, a letter from the daughter of Gerrit Smith, a wealthy antislavery politician and philanthropist from New York,87 offered Greenfield detailed advice on self-presentation and comportment. Ms. Smith's recommendations for dress included wearing only black or gray colored silk dresses with white gloves and avoiding all other decoration excepting white flowers in her hair. Smith explained: “I have said this much in relation to your dress, because I know how important it is that, in the midst of all the prejudice against those of your colour, that your appearance should be strikingly genteel.” Smith wrote comparatively little about her singing, but directed that she always sing with “feeling.”88 With mid-nineteenth-century popular media questioning the morality and motivations of women who took to the public stage, the modest dress Smith prescribed echoed sentiment published in newspapers, including those serving African American communities, where there was widespread concern that women not publicly display their sexuality with flamboyant dress.89 Ms. Smith here indicated that as an African American woman, Greenfield needed to take extra care in managing her reputation and distancing herself from the hypersexualized and comic characters common to blackface minstrelsy. In an era when few women and few African Americans sang publicly as a profession, Smith and others of Greenfield's patrons were concerned with Greenfield's display of respectability, morality, taste, and high social class, here conflated with a serious (rather than comic) and emotive singing style.

In large cities, Greenfield commonly performed for multiple nights, with varied programs. Initially, she sang the entire concert of ten to twelve selections, with a typical program consisting of Italian opera arias by Bellini and Donizetti, including those that provided opportunities for lavish improvised cadenzas,90 a few sentimental songs or ballads, and one sacred piece. By the time of her Boston appearances, she had added more English, Irish, and Scottish ballads to her repertoire. At least one reviewer had recommended this change, explaining that focus on the “gems of the opera” would not yield her popular success.91 Later, a reviewer in Kalamazoo, Michigan, complimented her operatic singing but admitted that he preferred a “simpler style of singing.”92 Newspapers report frequent encores throughout the tour, on some nights after every selection.93 As encore selections, she frequently offered the popular hymn “Old Hundredth” and the ballad “When Stars Are in the Quiet Sky,” both of which she sang to her own piano accompaniment. In February of 1852, she began sharing the program with a ten-year-old pianist, advertised as “prodigy,”94 who would break up the program with two instrumental selections. Towards the end of this tour, a young violinist fulfilled this role.95 These additions met audience expectations for program variety that would have been the mid-nineteenth-century norm, and they also lightened her nightly performance obligations slightly. Even with the instrumental numbers taking up some room on the programs, Greenfield as “Black Swan” remained the headlining act, and most reviewers discussed only her.

A several-month hiatus followed this period of constant travel. She spent some of this time staying with Hiram E. Howard's family in Buffalo, helping to care for a young child that they later nicknamed “Greenfield” in her honor.96 That this white child could be nicknamed after a former slave seems symbolic of the racial lines E. T. Greenfield was blurring socially with her acceptance by segments of white society in upstate New York. However, as the former slaveholder's surname, “Greenfield” still communicates the singer's status, and her role as child care provider marks an obvious inequality between this former slave and the members of upper-class white society with whom she was associating. In this period she also made plans to further her music profession. She received and considered offers for another tour of the United States, concerts in New York City, and a potential tour of Europe.97 On February 16, 1853, she, along with her Buffalo patrons including Hiram E. Howard and Buffalo Mayor Eli Cook, finalized plans for an English tour.98 She made a brief trip to sing in the Assembly Building of Philadelphia on February 28, 1853, for the benefit of Shiloh Baptist Church,99 but left after this poorly advertised Philadelphia performance to return to Buffalo in time for a March 7, 1853, benefit concert arranged by her New York patrons to raise funds for her overseas travel and education.100 Then, she prepared for the final concert she would give before sailing to England.

The widely advertised New York City concert took place at Metropolitan Hall on March 31, 1853 (see Fig. 1). Greenfield collaborated with musicians more famous than any of the others she had worked with up until this point. English singer Stephen Leach, known for his opera and oratorio performances with the members of the Sequin and Thillon troupes and the Pyne/Harrison company, sang a few selections. The well-known composer George Bristow conducted a small orchestra that accompanied the singers. In this period, Bristow served as orchestral violinist in the ensembles that accompanied other touring singers, such as Jenny Lind and Marietta Alboni, and he conducted the New York Harmonic Society. The concert advertisements concluded with the notice: “No colored persons can be admitted, as there is no part of the house appropriated for them.”101 Upon the request of leaders of African American churches in the vicinity of New York City, Greenfield agreed to sing the same program again a few days latter at the Broadway Tabernacle, with proceeds benefiting African American charities.102 Even with the ban on African American audience members, rioters threatened the management at Metropolitan Hall with violence if they permitted her to sing, but the concert went ahead as planned. Greenfield was the only African American in the house, and a large police presence in the lobby evidently staved off violence.103 

Figure 1

Playbill for Elizabeth T. Greenfield's concert at Metropolitan Hall, New York City, Thursday, March 31, 1853. Courtesy of the Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Figure 1

Playbill for Elizabeth T. Greenfield's concert at Metropolitan Hall, New York City, Thursday, March 31, 1853. Courtesy of the Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Reception of the “Black Swan” vis-à-vis the “Swedish Nightingale”

The “Black Swan” sobriquet simultaneously compared and contrasted Greenfield with European prima donnas, who in this period routinely were christened with singing bird nicknames by management or press. The “Black Swan” initially had been a direct reference to Catherine Hayes's touring name, “The Irish Swan” or “Swan of Erin,” but reviewers compared Greenfield most often to Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale.” Lind was the first female concert singer to captivate middle-class Americans and by far the most famous of the concertizing sopranos of this era. Since Lind's American tour under P. T. Barnum's management lasted from September 1850 to May 1852, seven months overlapped with Greenfield's tour. These singers sang a similar repertoire of Italian opera arias, ballads, and sentimental parlor songs, in many of the same cities and venues, to presumably similar audiences, and stayed in some of the same accommodations, such as Revere House in Boston and apartments in Cleveland.104 Lind was in Buffalo at the time of Greenfield's debut, and they were in Boston just a few days apart. Buffalo writers compared Greenfield to her European contemporaries, assessing that she was “equal to many of the most celebrated vocalists of the day,” and compared her to Lind, predicting that, with “cultivation,” she would become Lind's rival.105 Newspapers across the country repeated this comparison and prediction.106 In Lockport, New York, papers asserted that Greenfield was “the only vocalist that has thrown the Swedish Nightingale in the slightest degree into the shade.”107 Claiming Greenfield as an American singer, rather than a European, a Janesville, Wisconsin, paper asserted that after Jenny Lind left, “the Black-swan will be the reigning nightingale in this land, and accordingly must be a blazing star and a white-swan.”108 As other reviewers did, this writer engaged in word play with racialized nicknames, manipulated the assumption that swans are normally white, and implied that a black swan was the abnormal rarity. Suggesting that Greenfield could and should be accepted as a more normative or mainstream swan, this review displayed the patriotism that gradually emerged with Greenfield's reception, as some writers embraced Greenfield as an “American” in the 1850s, when a sense of a distinct national culture was growing in the United States. One month later, papers printed: “Who cares for Jenny Lind? The Black Swan is in town.”109 Patrons and reviewers referenced Lind as a way to note Greenfield's growing fame and potential for popularity, and they genuinely praised her musical skill.

Even the most positive reviews, however, also undercut the favorable comparison to the European prima donna. The ways in which reviewers contrasted Greenfield to Lind are revealing of how audiences struggled to understand the “Black Swan.” Reviewers paid much attention to Greenfield's ability to sing far lower than Lind, thus setting her apart from the famed Swedish Nightingale who had become mainstream America's vision of idealized feminine musicality.110 According to the early reviews, Greenfield rivaled Lind when singing with her “sweet” voice in her upper register, but newspapers always juxtaposed the adjective “sweet” with comment about her vocal “power” when introducing the “Black Swan” to the public, regardless of whether they had actually heard her sing.111 They echoed the first Buffalo reviewer who wrote of her “singing notes in alto with brilliancy and sweetness, and descending to the bass notes with a power and volume perfectly astonishing.”112 Buffalo patrons had noted her wide vocal range, stating that “her bass notes are wonderful, especially for a female voice and in these she far excels any singer we have heard.”113 By January, papers quantified her vocal range as twenty-seven notes114 or even wider.115 Newspapers explained Greenfield's wide vocal range in gendered terms and racialized the practice of a woman singing in a low range.

Two selections, performed first in Rochester as encore pieces, provoked pronounced gendered discussion of her vocal range that would persist in newspaper discourse throughout the tour. In order to display her low register, she sang “When Stars Are in the Quiet Sky” in baritone voice and the psalm “Old Hundredth” in what newspapers report as a bass voice, which elicited “full, emphatic, spontaneous, and universal” applause according to Frederick Douglass's Paper.116 This reviewer, who was overall impressed with her singing, goes on to note how some would find the performance disturbing:

We could, for a time, scarcely believe that those deep bass sounds proceeded from the lips of a woman, so completely did she imitate the masculine roar. This singular performance must have shocked (if there were any such present) those nervous and exceedingly timid old gentlemen, who about these times of woman's conventions, are quite alarmed lest woman should usurp dominion over man.117 

This allusion to women organizing in political and public ways highlighted the threat of crossing over between perceived categories of racial and gender difference. After a performance in Utica, New York, a reviewer described her as “supernatural for a female.”118 A Boston paper proclaimed, “no male voice could have given utterance to sounds more clearly and strikingly masculine, and people gazed in wonder, as though dubious of the sex of the performer.”119,The New York Daily Tribune took a different approach and mocked her low range, demeaning her as a circus-type exhibit: “The idea of a woman's voice is a feminine tone; anything below that is disgusting; it is as bad as a bride with a beard on her chin.”120 The obsession with Greenfield's wide vocal range, especially her ability to sing far lower than Jenny Lind, set her apart from Lind as not only an unnatural female but as explicitly masculine. Greenfield's ability to sing in a low register provoked wonder, fear, and disgust, and reviewers used gendered language to exoticize her further as Lind's racial Other.

Conventionally, newspapers also contrasted Greenfield to Lind and other European prima donnas by noting a lack of education, training, or “cultivation.”121 In Buffalo, Greenfield was introduced as “self-taught”122 with a “small amount of cultivation,”123 and newspapers nationwide reinforced this image.124 Whatever praise they had for her music, they denied her accomplishments by attributing it to “natural” abilities.125 An Ohio paper printed: “what agency she has in producing the notes it would puzzle a near sighted individual to discover.”126 Although she was a literate woman in her midtwenties with formal schooling and private tutoring, who had vocal and instrumental accomplishments, newspaper reviewers called her an “untutored child of song,”127 and “child of nature.”128 After her New York City performance, composer and critic William Henry Fry wrote, “she sings, in a word, like a child.”129 Reviewers connected her enslaved past to their assessment of her “naturalness” and presented her as a perpetual child and student—always on the path to advancement, but never fully accomplished. Belief in the innate musical ability of African Americans and the habit of infantilizing adults were common features of mid-nineteenth-century racial stereotypes. Often, writers used even more obviously racialized phrases to refer to Greenfield, such as “dark faced girl”130 or “new musical prodigy in the person of a black girl,”131 that demonstrated the influence of such ideology on audience expectations. Attitudes represented here aligned with nineteenth-century paternalism expressed on both sides of the slavery question, as when pro-slavery advocates defended the institution as a means of providing for people believed to be childlike or otherwise unfit for independence, and when abolitionists rallied supporters by depicting enslaved people as needy dependants deprived and degraded by slavery.

Racialized Discourse in the Reception of the “Black Swan”

From the start of Greenfield's public concertizing, her racial identity was advertised along with her musical abilities. Buffalo papers introduced her as a “young lady of African extraction,”132 an identity reinforced nationally,133 but starting with newspapers in cities that had not yet heard or seen concerts of the “Black Swan,” speculation over her “true” racial identity became commonplace. Newspapers continually offered visual and biographical evidence to authenticate her “African-ness” and enslaved past. In December of 1851, before the concert in Rochester, a Natchez, Mississippi newspaper claimed her as a native of Adams County,134 probably to counter a Richmond, Virginia paper that rumored she was a white woman from that state. By February of 1852, the fact that she had been born a slave was widely publicized.135 Those newspaper writers who had actually been to a concert provided visual evidence to substantiate claims about her African American ancestry. The Cincinnati Enquirer reassured its readers: “We have seen this sable cantatrice and she is black, that's a fact.”136 There “was no mistaking her claims to the African descent,” wrote a reporter for the Kenosha Democrat.137 Making reference to US federal legislation of 1850, known as the “Compromise of 1850,” the Toronto Globe printed: “The Black Swan is a ‘no compromise person’—there is no softening away of the African into the color, hair or lineament of the Caucasian. She is black in earnest.”138 As if to counter these definitive-sounding testimonials, one reporter described “her complexion” as “not exactly ebony, but approaching it as nearly as the brownest black can possibly do; her features, but slightly modified from the pure African lineaments.”139 “She is not pure African, but was the child of a Seminole woman” reported a Massachusetts paper.140 The Ohio State Journal decided that, “she is not much blacker than mulatto.”141 Discrepancies in the racialized description of her physical appearance and heritage would have heightened audience interest in seeing and hearing her in concert firsthand. Continual speculation over Greenfield's race and reiteration of a physical description further exoticized and marginalized her for white Americans in the Northern States, who in the early 1850s were increasingly interested in hearing voices from slavery and seeing African Americans on display.142 

Newspaper writers focused on the contradictions the “Black Swan” seemed to embody, particularly the difficulty of categorizing her race, since midcentury audiences understood her musical abilities and performance repertoire to be incompatible with her appearance, or at least unusual for one with personal ties to slavery. Invoking the language of the racial grotesque, newspapers aligned Greenfield with markers of high and popular culture, white and black, masculine and feminine, to communicate that she was neither clearly in one cultural category or the other.143 Newspapers commonly reported an experience of visual and aural disconnect at the concert. For example, after she sang in Detroit a reviewer wrote:

The Swan is a plain looking medium sized wooly-headed flat nose negro woman, … but great guns and thunderclaps! When she sat down to the piano and commenced singing her voice went through us like a shock of electricity. We involuntarily started and looked around to ascertain where the sound came from. It seemed to us as if there were some jugglery about it. But we were soon satisfied that the deep strong baritone proceeded from the throat of the Swan and no mistake.144 

Similarly, one audience member noted being quite disappointed with the “Black Swan” performance, until he listened with his eyes shut, at which point he became convinced that her “tones were not inferior in power or sweetness of those of Madam Bishop or Jenny Lind.”145 A reporter for the Wisconsin Free Democrat wrote: “We see the face of the black woman, but we hear the voice of an angel.”146 Making reference to her ability to sing high and “sweetly” as well as low and “powerfully,” one writer, imagining a disembodied voice, proclaimed, “we should not be surprised to hear that she possessed rare ventriloquial capabilities.”147 There seems to have been simultaneous discomfort and titillation over Greenfield's confusing racial, gendered, and class identity. Imagining a “pure” and disembodied voice brought comfort or understanding while denying Greenfield's human musicality, achievements, and physical presence. These critics admitted to being moved by the song of the “Black Swan” only when they imagined the voice as a nonhuman and unearthly entity lacking the messy visual markers of gender, race, and class. At least some of Greenfield's critics and audience members were initially attracted to the “Black Swan” because her body had been presented as a racialized exotic phenomenon, but when they heard her and found her voice attractive, they wished to erase the body they had seen.

So unique and unprecedented were Greenfield's performances of opera arias and sentimental ballads on concert stages that newspaper readers who had not experienced a concert firsthand may indeed have suspected “cultural fraud” in this age when deception and trickery dominated much of popular entertainment.148 In fact, her agent J. H. Wood played to the very market that he and P. T. Barnum created for exhibitions of seemingly contradictory racial, gender, and class markers. At the time of Greenfield's first performances, Barnum had launched his “living curiosities” line of exhibits in which realism and illusionism were always interconnected, and exhibitors designed displays of racialized exoticism to provoke questions of authenticity.149 Newspapers presented the “Black Swan” as one who “bewilders the senses,”150 was “non-descript, and original,”151 or simply “rara avis.”152 In February, an Ohio paper printed an anecdote about a man demanding a refund for a ticket he had purchased for the “Black Swan” concert because he had heard that she “ain't anybody but Jenny Lind blacked up.”153 This reference to the minstrel tradition of the black trickster or interloper circulated widely, especially in states and cities not included on her tour.154 The “Black Swan” as trickster performed cultural characteristics that audiences could have understood to be contradictory or transgressive—a former slave on the concert stage, an African American singing music of upper-class parlors and European stars, a woman who sang powerfully in a low vocal range more typical of men. These perceived contradictions were common to midcentury popular entertainments, including both museum exhibitions and tropes from the minstrel stage.

Abolition Politics and Performances of the “Black Swan”

Greenfield's agent who managed the first tour across the Northern States did not intend her concerts to be politically partisan or aligned with proponents or critics of the growing abolition movement, and likewise, concert advertising during the first tour emphasized exotic appeal over the overtly political. Early in her tour, Buffalo papers tried to refute any presumption that her supporters were primarily abolitionists, claiming that the singer's patrons included both “Silver Greys” and “Compromise Men” and assuring the public that “the Union is in no degree imperiled” by supporting Greenfield's musical success.155 Here the reviewer refers to the political faction threatening to divide the Republican party, the Silver Greys, being those of the New York Whig party who opposed the pro-slavery aspects of the Compromise of 1850 legislation. Under J. H. Wood's management, newspaper advertising continued to present the musical abilities of the “Black Swan” as transcending politics and the slavery question. Wood marketed her to the same middle class audience that P. T. Barnum was in the process of creating for performances of the “Swedish Nightingale,” and like Barnum, Wood tried to attract the widest possible audience by staying away from controversies threatening to divide the nation, especially concerning slavery, which split even Greenfield's audiences in the North during this first tour.156 Alluding to midcentury cultural politics without partisanship or a direct stance toward slavery broadened a middle class audience for the “Black Swan,” and audiences probably could have attended most concerts of this first tour without feeling as though they were making a public political statement.

A few months into her first concert tour, the associations and meanings of the phrase “Black Swan” slipped quite literally out of Greenfield and Wood's control. Regardless of their attempt to stay out of politics during this debut concert tour, newspaper discourse politicized the “Black Swan.” Exoticized images that relied on transgressions of perceived boundaries of gender, class, and especially race resonated with contemporary politics, and newspapers frequently referenced the “Black Swan” when discussing slavery politics. For Greenfield's patrons who were abolitionists and audience members who were at least sympathetic to the causes of education for free blacks, the “Black Swan” represented a charity case they wanted to support. Greenfield evoked sympathy from Northern audiences not only with musical skill and artistry, but also because aspects of her performance seemed familiar to them. She sang the repertoire common to middle and upper class parlors and concert stages graced by European prima donnas. She dressed in ways that seemed appropriately fashionable yet modest, behaved in ways that reviewers interpreted as respectable and humble. Patrons and audiences saw similarities between themselves and Greenfield as evidence of her personal advancement beyond a former slave status. Some papers claimed to observe such “sympathy”157 on faces of audiences and proclaimed that Greenfield's achievements and popular success demonstrated the possibilities of “overcoming prejudice.”158 As early as February 1852, newspapers began mentioning that proceeds of her concerts would go towards her music education in Europe.159 This news, combined with the pervasive image of Greenfield as untaught, child-like, and innately musical—needing only education in order to rival Jenny Lind—no doubt motivated some of her supporters.

Anti-slavery newspapers used Greenfield's success to rally support for abolition and optimistically predicted better days ahead for African Americans. Even though a writer for Frederick Douglass's Paper blamed her for not refusing to sing in halls that barred African American attendance or admitted them only to the least desirable seats—suggesting she be called the “white raven” instead of the “black swan”160—the same paper also published the following warm praise for the singer and her patrons: “We are happy to see the musical talent of the Black Swan thus appreciated and hail it as one indication of the good time coming.”161 Since Greenfield's first tour unfolded in the wake of the Compromise of 1850, writers frequently invoked this legislation, at least in passing, when reporting on her concertizing. One of the most controversial measures of the legislation was the strengthening of the Fugitive Slave Law, which weakened legal support for slaves who escaped to free states, and its passage emboldened abolitionists to fight harder for an end to slavery. One Wisconsin newspaper used the occasion of the “Black Swan” performances in that state to raise public awareness for the new law, warning: “Any moment she could be removed to the south and into slavery!”162 Forcing readers to consider how the law could impact individuals, such as Greenfield, who had earned widespread notoriety for her musical achievements, must have been a powerful rhetorical strategy, even if the new law posed little danger for her personally.163 As newspaper coverage of Greenfield's tour proliferated, abolitionists interpreted the “Black Swan” through the lens of racial uplift and used Greenfield's popular success as evidence of the potential of former slaves—an idea that would prove crucial to winning the argument against slavery.

Greenfield's initial tour unfolded while the “mulatto” descriptor became more prevalent in public discourse and thus the cultural mixing Greenfield seemed to represent took on great political significance. Mulatto individuals and characters had been introduced to Northerners via slave narratives164 and abolitionist fiction.165 On the minstrel stage, the “wench” role and also the later “prima donna” parodies were understood as mulatto characters because they exhibited cultural markers perceived to be both white and black. These mulatto characters created dramatic tension in the minstrel show, given that cross-dressed white men in burnt cork played characters exhibiting upper-class cultural markers for a working-class audience, and therefore enacted not only racial, but also class and gender crossings. For audiences familiar with these tropes of blackface minstrelsy, Greenfield's performance of the “Black Swan” could have instigated similar dramatic tension, especially as she was viewed as more real in ways that actors on the minstrel stage were not. The Federal Census had first supplied the mulatto category in 1850, but in the absence of criteria for determining “white,” “black,” or “mulatto” identity, this official recognition of racial mixing raised more questions than it answered. Northerners suspected that the federal government was tracking the “blending” of America, and Southerners accused federal census workers of trying to expose the otherwise unspoken practice of slave owners' exerting sexual power over female slaves. White Americans on both sides of the slavery question were uncomfortable with amalgamation, as racial mixing was called in the nineteenth century. Thus, to widen appeal for abolition, anti-slavery activists claimed that ending slavery would end an institution that facilitated racial mixing. Newspapers placed the “Black Swan” directly in the center of this public discussion. Abolitionist papers reported on the “fears of amalgamation” surrounding reception of Greenfield, resulting from knowledge that some of her supporters were not only white males, but also upper class, identified as “gentlemen, doctors, generals, colonels.”166 Important scholarly work has been done on mid-nineteenth-century literature's role in shaping American consciousness about the mixing of races,167 but as the reception of Greenfield's career makes clear, we must also consider music's role in the constructions of difference within the antebellum slavery debate. The category of mulatto might have helped audiences make sense of Greenfield, because it was an official designation for “mixed,” but this implicit ambiguity also enhanced political anxiety and fear of mixing or crossing between categories of difference.

While abolitionists, or those at least sympathetic to the plight of free African Americans living in the North, interpreted the cultural mixing represented by the “Black Swan” as indicative of Greenfield's uplift and treated performances of Greenfield with polite reverence, others feared these same mixed signifiers or viewed them as comic. The New York Herald reviewer reported laughter in the audience at Metropolitan Hall and ridiculed her presentation as the “Black Swan”:

It was easy to see, from the good humor depicted on the countenance of all, that the matter was looked upon as decidedly the best joke of the season…. The Swan was timidly led forward to the front of the stage by a little white representative of the genus homo, who seemed afraid to touch her with even the tips of his white kids, and kept the Swan at a respectable distance as if she were a sort of biped hippopotamus. The audience laughed at the attitude of the gentleman usher and still applauded with all their might….168 

This represents a remarkable contrast in tone and content from reviews in other cities on the tour. Whereas a Boston reviewer had referred to Greenfield as a “wonderful vocalist, who seems to be asserting for the African race a position in the musical world, a good deal above the Dandy Jim and Lucy Long school,”169 thereby suggesting she be viewed as a serious alternative to comic minstrel characters, in New York City some viewed the “Black Swan” as a relation of the cross-dressing white man in burnt cork, whose shtick relied on their perception of mismatched racial, class, and gender markers. Scholars of minstrelsy have documented that the minstrel character of the cross-dressed tenor singing sentimental songs was just emerging in the 1850s, and would in the next decade develop into the prima donna role, which caricatured the opera singer.170 At least some in this New York City audience understood the “Black Swan” as a real-life parody of the touring European soprano. The same paper reported a large audience for the New York City performance, which “could hardly be described as fashionable, the ladies being very considerably in the minimum,” thereby indicating that it was probably more working class and more male-dominated than had become typical on the preceding tour.171 Since African Americans were barred from attending, it was also a much more uniformly white audience than at other performances on her tour. Compared to rural New York where abolitionism was strong, especially among middle- and upper-class white women, New York City's working class white men continued to support Democrats and favor compromise with the South in order to save the Union. In other words, the crowd assembled for the Metropolitan Hall performance may have been closer demographically to a typical minstrel show audience. Taking cues from this audience's rude behavior, reviewers used humor to denigrate Greenfield in the New York press. By comically depicting the perceived crossings between popular and high class, masculine and feminine, white and black, reviewers effectively also mocked abolitionism and the women's movement, where upper-class white women took leadership roles and associated with African Americans. Strong audience reactions, whether sober or comic, increased press coverage and the curiosity that motivated ticket purchases.

Newspapers in states not included in this initial tour also reported on the concertizing and audience reception, but often distorted coverage or invoked the notoriety of the “Black Swan” for political statements. Papers in Southern states linked Greenfield and Wood with abolitionists and used the “Black Swan” tour as an opportunity to mock and radicalize anti-slavery activists or characterize them as extremists. In reporting the Buffalo debut performances, the Savannah (Georgia) Republican ridiculed Greenfield as a “wooly black wench” and her upper class white male Buffalo patrons as “the wooly-headed tribe of that locality, who have the imprudence to rank her with Jenny Lind.”172 A couple weeks later, the same paper linked Greenfield's audiences to “radical circles,”173 thereby using the occasion of her widely publicized debut performance to spread anti-abolition sentiment. Contrary to the positive local reviews of Greenfield's Boston performances, the Daily Alabama Journal pronounced the Boston concert of the “Black Swan” a failure, even according to abolitionists.174 The Floridian and Journal also mocked abolitionists at Greenfield's expense and minimized her success as a regional phenomenon, calling her a “fat, robust, Negro wench” who was “delighting the bluestockings and abolitionists of Boston and otherplaces in New England.”175 Depicting Greenfield as the darling of abolitionists or a comic minstrel caricature continued in papers from states not included in the tour.176 Since Greenfield did not sing in the South during this tour, it was fairly easy for Southern newspapers to promote fantasy images of the “Black Swan” and characterize her Northern audiences in ways that served sectarian politics and pro-slavery propaganda. Without concert advertising or performances themselves being overtly political, the “Black Swan” evoked sympathy as well as derision stemming from grotesque racist depictions—all of which had political meaning in this age when slavery, women's rights, and class distinctions were increasingly discussed in public forums.

The 1851–53 tour was only the beginning for Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield's musical career and cultural impact. The inaugural tour of the “Black Swan” brought Greenfield national notoriety that led to international fame, and eventually would enable her to exert more control over her public image and career. She sailed for England just days after the New York City performances that culminated this first tour, and the favorable reception she earned during a tour of the British Isles was widely covered in the American press. After returning from a tour of the United Kingdom in 1854,177 she would for the rest of her life perform two types of concerts in the United States—“for profit” performances that supported her livelihood, sometimes again under Wood's management, and charity concerts under her own direction. She favored charities that reflected her personal history and contemporary social needs; she worked for orphans, women, Liberian colonists, African American churches, and Civil War soldiers. While her reception among African Americans was mixed during the initial years of her concert tours, by the mid-1860s, leading African American intellectuals and white abolitionists of the nation honored her with a place on every program of a prestigious lecture series in Philadelphia featuring Frederick Douglass, Francis Watkins Harper, William Lloyd Garrison, and William Wells Brown.178 Her first tour of 1851–53 discussed in this essay thus not only launched her performance career and impacted American thinking about racial politics in the years leading to the Civil War, but eventually enabled significant philanthropic work and her association with the leading African American intellectuals of her era.

When considering Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield's first years on the national stage in light of her historical and cultural contexts, her accomplishments seem all the more remarkable—even though it is impossible to assign a consistent level of agency to her when telling this story of entrance into mainstream American culture. Since the cultural realities of her world necessitated making connections to culturally powerful individuals and professional management, the “Black Swan” act was a product not only of Greenfield's own making, but also of patronage, management, and audience expectations. Much about her marketed image and reception was out of Greenfield's control; yet, she constantly dealt with shifting expectations of her race, as well as class and gender. She represented mixed cultural markers and was seen as a transitional figure for audiences who may have struggled with emerging constructions of race as they related to other identity categories. During her first tour of the United States, Greenfield sang to wealthy white Americans eager to display their own high moral stature, to middle- and upper-class African Americans optimistic about the uplift she represented but troubled by the racist ideologies that segregated or disallowed their attendance, to small-town citizens far from urban centers who heard the operatic selections as above them, and working class urbanites who laughed at her performance, which for them resonated with stock minstrel caricatures they knew well.

Greenfield’s creativity and skill captivated diverse audiences. Her remarkable ability to sing to multiple constituencies led not only to her popular success, but also to a wide cultural impact. Performing as the “Black Swan,” Greenfield provoked Americans to recognize the human achievements of formerly enslaved African Americans. Certainly, her musical accomplishments and presence on concert stages enabled some audience members to “overcome” their prejudice, as nineteenth-century biographies and some newspaper reporters proclaimed, but some reactions to the “Black Swan” performances also provoked new formulations of persistent prejudices. For example, in hearing her voice as natural, spiritual, powerful, pure, and authentic, mid-nineteenth- century reviewers adapted the stereotyped descriptions of slave song written by European Americans earlier in the century for use in the realm of public concert performances.179 Although Greenfield paved the way for later African American female vocalists (e.g., Marie Selika, Sissieretta Jones, and Nellie Brown Mitchell in the nineteenth century, as well as Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, and others in the twentieth century), her reviewers also set precedents for the biased reception that singers of subsequent generations would endure.180 Owing to the legacy of slavery, histories of African American and European American musics are intertwined, and while the facts of Greenfield's early life and career beginnings complicate notions of distinctly black and white music, her reviewers furthered what would become conventional ways of constructing differences. Study of Greenfield's early biography, her unprecedented public debut, and the initial reception of the “Black Swan” illuminates race, gender, and class politics in Antebellum America, and also provokes consideration of her legacy, as Greenfield's performances prefigured a long history of African American musicians overcoming challenges and using music to challenge audiences' perceptions of difference.

Appendix A Route of Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield's First Concert Tour (1851–53)

DATECITY
October 18, 1851 Buffalo, NY (Townsend Hall) 
October 21, 1851 Buffalo, NY (Townsend Hall) 
December 11, 1851 Rochester, NY (Corinthian Hall) 
December 24, 1851 Lockport, NY (Ringueberg Hall) 
January 12, 1852 Utica, NY 
January 16, 1852 Albany, NY (Association Hall) 
January 17, 1852 Albany, NY (Young Men's Association Rooms) 
January 19, 1852 Albany, NY (Young Men's Association Rooms) 
January 20, 1852 Troy, NY (Harmony Hall) 
January 28, 1852 Boston, MA (Chickering Rooms) 
February 3, 1852 Boston, MA (Melodeon) 
February 6, 1852 Boston, MA (Melodeon) 
February 9, 1852 Salem, MA (Mechanic Hall) 
February 12, 1852 Taunton, MA (Temple Hall) 
ca. February 13–15, 1852 Lowell, MA 
February 16, 1852 Providence, Rhode Island (Howard Hall) 
February 18, 1852 Worchester, MA (Horticulture Hall) 
February 26, 1852 Cleveland, Ohio 
March 2–3, 1852 Columbus, Ohio (Neils New Hall) 
March 5, 1852 Cincinnati, Ohio (American House) 
March 6, 1852 Cincinnati, Ohio 
March 10, 1852 Cincinnati, Ohio (Smith and Nixon Hall) 
March 15, 1852 Cincinnati, Ohio (Masonic Hall) 
March 21, 1852 Cincinnati, Ohio 
ca. March 16–28, 1852 Springfield, Ohio 
March 29, 1852 Sandusky, Ohio (Euterpean Hall) 
ca. March 31, 1852 Detroit, Michigan (private home) 
April 5, 1852 Detroit, Michigan (Firemans' Hall) 
April 6, 1852 Detroit, Michigan 
April 9, 1852 Jackson, Michigan 
ca. April 10–14, 1852 Kalamazoo, Michigan 
ca. April 10–14. 1852 Niles, Michigan 
ca. April 15, 1852 Chicago, Illinois 
April 16, 1852 Kenosha, Wisconsin 
April 17, 1852 Racine, Wisconsin 
April 19–20, 1852 Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Gardiners Hall) 
April 22, 1852 Chicago, Illinois (Tremont Hall) 
April 27, 1852 Sandusky, Ohio 
April 30, 1852 Cleveland, Ohio (Kelley's Hall) 
May 5, 1852 Buffalo, New York 
May 10, 1852 Rochester, New York (Corinthian Hall) 
May 13, 1852 Toronto, Ontario (St. Lawrence Hall) 
May 15, 1852 Hamilton, Ontario 
ca. May 1852 Utica, New York 
May 28, 1852 Watertown, New York 
June 1, 1852 Ogdensburg, New York 
ca. June 12, 1852 Rutland, Vermont 
ca. June 1852 Burlington, Vermont 
ca. June 1852 Greenfield, Vermont 
ca. June 1852 Brattleboro, Vermont 
ca. November 1852 Buffalo, New York (Townsend Hall) 
February 28, 1852 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Assembly Building) 
March 7, 1853 Buffalo, New York (American House) 
March 31, 1853 New York, New York (Metropolitan Hall) 
ca. April 4, 1853 New York, New York (Broadway Tabernacle) 
DATECITY
October 18, 1851 Buffalo, NY (Townsend Hall) 
October 21, 1851 Buffalo, NY (Townsend Hall) 
December 11, 1851 Rochester, NY (Corinthian Hall) 
December 24, 1851 Lockport, NY (Ringueberg Hall) 
January 12, 1852 Utica, NY 
January 16, 1852 Albany, NY (Association Hall) 
January 17, 1852 Albany, NY (Young Men's Association Rooms) 
January 19, 1852 Albany, NY (Young Men's Association Rooms) 
January 20, 1852 Troy, NY (Harmony Hall) 
January 28, 1852 Boston, MA (Chickering Rooms) 
February 3, 1852 Boston, MA (Melodeon) 
February 6, 1852 Boston, MA (Melodeon) 
February 9, 1852 Salem, MA (Mechanic Hall) 
February 12, 1852 Taunton, MA (Temple Hall) 
ca. February 13–15, 1852 Lowell, MA 
February 16, 1852 Providence, Rhode Island (Howard Hall) 
February 18, 1852 Worchester, MA (Horticulture Hall) 
February 26, 1852 Cleveland, Ohio 
March 2–3, 1852 Columbus, Ohio (Neils New Hall) 
March 5, 1852 Cincinnati, Ohio (American House) 
March 6, 1852 Cincinnati, Ohio 
March 10, 1852 Cincinnati, Ohio (Smith and Nixon Hall) 
March 15, 1852 Cincinnati, Ohio (Masonic Hall) 
March 21, 1852 Cincinnati, Ohio 
ca. March 16–28, 1852 Springfield, Ohio 
March 29, 1852 Sandusky, Ohio (Euterpean Hall) 
ca. March 31, 1852 Detroit, Michigan (private home) 
April 5, 1852 Detroit, Michigan (Firemans' Hall) 
April 6, 1852 Detroit, Michigan 
April 9, 1852 Jackson, Michigan 
ca. April 10–14, 1852 Kalamazoo, Michigan 
ca. April 10–14. 1852 Niles, Michigan 
ca. April 15, 1852 Chicago, Illinois 
April 16, 1852 Kenosha, Wisconsin 
April 17, 1852 Racine, Wisconsin 
April 19–20, 1852 Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Gardiners Hall) 
April 22, 1852 Chicago, Illinois (Tremont Hall) 
April 27, 1852 Sandusky, Ohio 
April 30, 1852 Cleveland, Ohio (Kelley's Hall) 
May 5, 1852 Buffalo, New York 
May 10, 1852 Rochester, New York (Corinthian Hall) 
May 13, 1852 Toronto, Ontario (St. Lawrence Hall) 
May 15, 1852 Hamilton, Ontario 
ca. May 1852 Utica, New York 
May 28, 1852 Watertown, New York 
June 1, 1852 Ogdensburg, New York 
ca. June 12, 1852 Rutland, Vermont 
ca. June 1852 Burlington, Vermont 
ca. June 1852 Greenfield, Vermont 
ca. June 1852 Brattleboro, Vermont 
ca. November 1852 Buffalo, New York (Townsend Hall) 
February 28, 1852 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Assembly Building) 
March 7, 1853 Buffalo, New York (American House) 
March 31, 1853 New York, New York (Metropolitan Hall) 
ca. April 4, 1853 New York, New York (Broadway Tabernacle) 

Appendix B Repertoire for Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield's First Concert Tour (1851–53)181

“Come Let Us Be Happy Together,” from Gaetano Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia

“Comin' Thro' the Rye,” Scottish ballad with text by Robert Burns

“Do Not Mingle,” from Vincenzo Bellini's La Sonnambula

“Down Among the Dead Men,” British ballad, attributed to John Dyer

“Dying Warrior,” composed by William J. Lemon

“Hernani, Fly With Me,” from Giuseppe Verdi's Ernani

“Home Sweet Home,” composed by Henry Bishop

“I Know That My Redeemer Liveth,” from George Frideric Handel's Messiah

“John Anderson My Jo John,” Scottish ballad with text by Robert Burns

“Kathleen Mavoureen,” composed by Frederick Nicholls Crouch

“Last Rose of Summer,” composed by John A. Stevenson with text by Thomas Moore

“Like the Gloom of Night Retiring,” composed by Henry Bishop

“Make Me No Gaudy Chaplets,” from Gaetano Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia

“Mothers Farewell,” written by Charles Jefferys based on an air from Vincenzo Bellini's Norma

“My Home My Happy Home,” composed by George Alexander Hodson

“Natalie the Maid of the Mill,” composed by William C. Peters

“Oh Native Scenes,” from Vincenzo Bellini's Norma

“Old Hundredth,” hymn

“On the Banks of Guadelquiver,” from Vincenzo Bellini's Linda de Chamonix

“Salute à la France,” from Gaetano Donizetti's La fille du régiment

“Scenes that Are Brightest,” from William Vincent Wallace's Maritana

“Sweetly O'er My Senses Stealing,” from Niccolo Antonio Zingarelli's Native Land

“The May Dew,” Irish ballad, composed by Samuel Lover

“Then You'll Remember Me,” from Michael William Balfe's Bohemian Girl

“Whats a the Steer, Kimmer,” Scottish ballad composed by Alexander Lee

“When Stars Are in the Quiet Sky,” composed by Edward Bulwer

“Where Are Now These Hopes,” from Vincenzo Bellini's Norma

“Why Do I Weep?,” composed by William Vincent Wallace

Works Cited

Works Cited
Published Books and Articles
Adams, Bluford.
E Pluribus Barnum: The Great Showman and the Making of U.S. Popular Culture
.
Minneapolis
:
University of Minnesota Press
,
1997
.
Ahlquist, Karen.
Democracy at the Opera: Music, Theater, and Culture in New York City, 1815–60
. Music in American Life.
Urbana
:
University of Illinois Press
,
1997
.
American Colonization Society.
The African Repository and Colonial Journal
. Vol.
7
.
Washington, DC
:
James C. Dunn
,
1832
.
André, Naomi, Karen M. Bryan, and Eric Saylor, eds.
Blackness in Opera
.
Urbana
:
University of Illinois Press
,
2012
.
Bangs, N. and J. Emory.
“Report of the Committee on Education.”
Proceedings of General Conference, The Methodist Magazine
11
(
1828
):
274
78
.
New York
:
Methodist Episcopal Church
.
Bean, Annemarie.
“Transgressing the Gender Divide: The Female Impersonator in Nineteenth-Century Blackface Minstrelsy.”
In Inside the Minstrel Mask: Readings in Nineteenth-Century Blackface Minstrelsy
, edited by Annemarie Bean, James V. Hatch, and Brooks McNamara,
245
56
.
Hanover, NH
:
Wesleyan University Press
,
1996
.
Black, Alex W.
“Abolitionism's Resonant Bodies: The Realization of African American Performance.”
American Quarterly
63
(
2011
):
619
39
.
The Black Swan At Home and Abroad; or, A Biographical Sketch of Miss Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, the American Vocalist
.
Philadelphia
:
William S. Young
,
1855
.
Block, Adrienne Fried.
“Two Virtuoso Performers in Boston: Jenny Lind and Camilla Urso.”
In New Perspectives on Music: Essays in Honor of Eileen Southern
, edited by Josephine Wright and Samuel A. Floyd Jr.
355
72
. Detroit Monographs in Musicology/Studies in Musicology.
Warren, MI
:
Harmonie Park Press
,
1992
.
Brawley, Benjamin Griffith.
The Negro Genius: A New Appraisal of the Achievement of the American Negro in Literature and the Fine Arts
.
New York
:
Biblo and Tannen
,
1966
.
Brief Memoir of “The Black Swan,” Miss E. T. Greenfield, the American Vocalist.
London
,
1853
.
Brooks, Daphne A.
Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850–1910
.
Durham, NC
:
Duke University Press
,
2006
.
Carson, Clayborne, Emma J.Lapsansky-Werner, and Gary B. Nash.
The Struggle for Freedom: A History of African Americans
.
New York
:
Pearson Longman
,
2007
.
Cassuto, Leonard.
The Inhuman Race: The Racial Grotesque in American Literature and Culture
.
New York
:
Columbia University Press
,
1997
.
Chybowski, Julia.
“The ‘Black Swan’ in England: Abolition and the Reception of Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield.”
The American Music Research Center Journal
14
(
2004
):
7
25
.
Cook, James W.
The Arts of Deception: Playing with Fraud in the Age of Barnum
.
Cambridge, MA
:
Harvard University Press
,
2001
.
Daily American Directory of the City of Rochester.
Rochester, NY
:
Jerome & Brother
,
1849
.
Dana, David D.
The Fireman: Fire Departments of the United States
.
Boston
:
James French and Company
,
1858
.
Delany, Martin Robinson.
The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States
.
Philadelphia
,
1852
.
Desilver, Robert.
Desilver's Philadelphia Index or Directory for 1823
.
Philadelphia
:
Robert Desilver
,
1823
.
Directory for the City of Buffalo
.
Buffalo, NY
:
L. P. Crary
,
1832
.
Downes, John.
The Philadelphia Almanac and General Business Directory for the Year 1848
.
Philadelphia
:
Charles J. Gillis
,
1848
.
Douglass, Frederick.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
.
Boston
:
Anti-Slavery Office
,
1845
.
Edwards, B. B.
American Quarterly Register, American Education Society
.
Boston
:
Perkins, Marvin & Co.
,
1835
.
Eidsheim, Nina Sun.
“Marian Anderson and ‘Sonic Blackness’ in American Opera.”
American Quarterly
63
(
2011
):
641
71
.
“Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield's First Concert Tour.”
Advertiser Directory for the City of Buffalo
.
Buffalo, NY
:
Jewett, Thomas & Co.
,
1851
.
Gable-Wilson, Sonya R.
“Let Freedom Sing! Four African-American Concert Singers in Nineteenth-Century America.”
PhD diss.,
University of Florida
,
2005
.
Graziano, John.
“The Early Life and Career of the ‘Black Patti’: The Odyssey of an African American Singer in the Late Nineteenth Century.”
This Journal
53
(
2000
):
543
96
.
Harris, Leslie M.
In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626–1863
.
Historical Studies of Urban America
.
Chicago
:
University of Chicago Press
,
2003
.
Hayes, Eileen M., and Linda F. Williams, eds.
Black Women and Music: More Than the Blues
.
Urbana
:
University of Illinois Press
,
2007
.
Hershberg, Theodore.
“Free Blacks in Antebellum Philadelphia: A Study of Ex-slaves, Freeborn, and Socioeconomic Decline.”
In African Americans in Pennsylvania: Shifting Historical Perspectives
, edited by Joe William Trotter Jr. and Eric Ledell Smith,
123
47
. University Park:
Pennsylvania
:
State University Press
,
1997
.
Horton, James Oliver.
“Freedom's Yoke: Gender Conventions among Antebellum Free Blacks.”
In African American Activism before the Civil War: The Freedom Struggle in the Antebellum North
, edited by Patrick Rael,
168
87
.
New York
:
Routledge
,
2008
.
Jones, Charles K.
Francis Johnson (1792–1844): Chronicle of a Black Musician in Early Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia
.
Bethlehem, PA
:
Lehigh University Press
,
2006
.
Ketchum, William.
An Authentic and Comprehensive History of Buffalo
.
2
vols.
Buffalo, NY
:
Rockwell, Baker & Hill
,
1865
.
La Brew, Arthur R.
The Black Swan, Elizabeth T. Greenfield, Songstress: A Biographical Study
.
Detroit
:
La Brew
,
1969
.
Lapsansky, Emma Jones.
“‘Since They Got Those Separate Churches’: Afro-Americans and Racism in Jacksonian Philadelphia.”
In African Americans in Pennsylvania: Shifting Historical Perspectives
, edited by Joe William Trotter Jr. and Eric Ledell Smith,
93
120
.
University Park
:
Pennsylvania State University Press
,
1997
.
Lemire, Elise.
“Miscegenation”: Making Race in America
. New Cultural Studies.
Philadelphia
:
University of Pennsylvania Press
,
2002
.
Lindhorst, Marie J.
“Sarah Mapps Douglass: The Emergence of an African American Educator/Activist in Nineteenth Century Philadelphia.”
PhD diss.,
Pennsylvania State University
,
1995
.
Lott, Eric.
“Blackface and Blackness: The Minstrel Show in American Culture.”
In Inside the Minstrel Mask: Readings in Nineteenth-Century Blackface Minstrelsy
, edited by Annemarie Bean, James V. Hatch, and Brooks McNamara,
3
32
.
Hanover, NH
:
Wesleyan University Press
,
1996
.
Lott, Eric.
Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class
. Race and American Culture.
New York
:
Oxford University Press
,
1993
.
Lott, R. Allen.
From Paris to Peoria: How European Piano Virtuosos Brought Classical Music to the American Heartland
.
Oxford and New York
:
Oxford University Press
,
2003
.
Mayes, Edward.
History of Education in Mississippi
.
Washington, DC
:
United States Bureau of Education
,
1899
.
McElroy's Philadelphia City Directory
.
Philadelphia
:
A. McElroy & Co.
,
1843
and
1850
.
Mississippi Department of Education
.
Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education to the Legislature of Mississippi
.
Jackson
,
1890
).
Nash, Gary B.
Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia's Black Community, 1720–1840
.
Cambridge, MA
:
Harvard University Press
,
1988
.
O'Brien's Commercial Intelligencer City and Country Merchants Wholesale Business Directory for Philadelphia
.
Philadelphia
,
1840
.
Pryor, Elizabeth Anne.
“‘Jim Crow’ Cars, Passport Denials and Atlantic Crossings: African-American Travel, Protest and Citizenship at Home and Abroad, 1827–1865.”
PhD diss.,
University of California
,
Santa Barbara
,
2008
).
Radano, Ronald.
Lying Up a Nation: Race and Black Music
.
Chicago
:
University of Chicago Press
,
2003
.
Radano, Ronald, and Philip V. Bohlman, eds.
Music and the Racial Imagination
.
Chicago
:
University of Chicago Press
,
2000
.
Raimon, Eve Allegra.
The “Tragic Mulatta” Revisited: Race and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Antislavery Fiction
.
New Brunswick, NJ
:
Rutgers University Press
,
2004
.
Reed, Teresa L.
“Black Women in Art Music”
In Black Women and Music: More Than the Blues
, edited by Eileen M. Hayes and Linda F. Williams,
179
196
.
Urbana
:
University of Illinois Press
,
2007
.
Riis, Thomas L.
“Concert Singers, Prima Donnas, and Entertainers: The Changing Status of Black Women Vocalists in Nineteenth-Century America.”
In Music and Culture in America
,
1861
1918
, edited by Michael Saffle,
53
78
. Essays in American Music 2; Garland Reference Library of the Humanities 1952.
New York
:
Garland
,
1998
.
Schenbeck, Lawrence.
Racial Uplift and American Music, 1878–1943
. American Made Music Series.
Jackson
:
University Press of Mississippi
,
2012
.
Southern, Eileen.
The Music of Black Americans: A History
. 3rd ed.
New York
:
Norton
,
1997 (1971)
.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher.
Uncle Tom's Cabin
.
2
vols.
Boston
:
John P. Jewett
,
1852
.
Trotter, James.
Music and Some Highly Musical People
.
Boston
:
Lee and Shepard Publishers
,
1878
.
Truth, Sojourner.
Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave Emancipated from Bodily Servitude by the State of New York, in 1828
.
Boston
,
1850
.
Twelfth Report of the American Home Missionary Society
.
New York
:
William Osborn
,
1838
.
Winch, Julie.
Philadelphia's Black Elite: Activism, Accommodation, and the Struggle for Autonomy, 1787–1848
.
Philadelphia
:
Temple University Press
,
1988
.
Newspapers
Albany (New York) Evening Journal
, December 22,
1851
–January 19,
1852
.
Albany (New York) Register
, February 5,
1852
.
Albany (New York) State Register
, January 19,
1852
.
Alexandria (Virginia) Gazette
, September 17,
1831
–February 10,
1852
.
Boston Daily Courier
, December 25,
1851
–January 29,
1852
.
Boston Daily Atlas
, October 17,
1851
–February 3,
1852
.
Boston Evening Gazette
, January 31,
1852
.
Boston Evening Transcript
, October 25,
1851
–February 4,
1852
.
Brooklyn (New York) Eagle
, October 16–29,
1851
.
Buffalo (New York) Commercial Advertiser
, October 10,
1851
–February 24,
1853
.
Buffalo (New York) Daily Courier
, October 22–23,
1851
.
Buffalo (New York) Daily Express
, October 17–23,
1851
.
Chicago Daily Tribune
, October 22,
1892
.
Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer
, March 11,
1852
.
Cleveland (Ohio) Herald
, October 11,
1851
–March 4,
1853
.
Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer
, October 23,
1851
–February 28,
1852
.
Daily Alabama Journal
(Montgomery), February 11,
1852
.
Daily Evening Traveler
(Boston), January 31,
1852
.
Daily National Intelligence
(Washington, DC).
Daily Republican
(Springfield, IL), January 26,
1852
.
Democratic Standard
(Janesville, WI), December 31,
1851
.
Detroit Commercial Advertiser
, April 3–5,
1852.
Detroit Daily Advertiser
, April 3,
1852
.
Detroit Daily Free Press
, December 5,
1851
.
Floridian and Journal
(Tallahassee), March 20,
1852
.
Frederick Douglass's Paper
(Rochester, NY), December 11,
1851
–April 22,
1853
.
Gleason's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion
(Boston), April 17,
1852
.
Hartford (Connecticut) Daily Courant
, February 20,
1852
.
Kalamazoo (Michigan) Gazette
, April 16,
1852
.
Kenosha (Wisconsin) Democrat
, April 24,
1852
.
Liberator
(Boston), October 31,
1851
–March 26,
1852
.
Lockport (New York) Journal
, December 24–31,
1851
.
Lowell (Massachusetts) Daily Morning News
, February 7,
1852
.
Lowell (Massachusetts) Monitor
, February 14,
1852
.
Macon (Georgia) Weekly Telegraph
, March 16,
1852
.
Massachusetts Spy
(Worcester), February 4
1852
.
Milwaukee Sentinel
, October 16,
1851
–April 21,
1852
.
Mississippi Free Trader
(Natchez), December 10,
1851
–February 18,
1852
.
Musical World
(New York), February 28,
1852
.
National Aegis
(Worcester, MA), July 16,
1845
.
New Hampshire Patriot
(Concord), October 29,
1851
.
New Orleans Argus
, May 17,
1828
.
New York Daily Tribune
, April 2,
1853
.
New York Herald
, April 1,
1853
.
New York Times
, March 30–April 1,
1853
.
North American and United States Gazette
(Philadelphia), March 21,
1851
.
Ohio State Journal
(Columbus), March 3,
1852
.
Ohio Anti Slavery Bugle
(New Lisbon), February 28,
1852
.
Oshkosh (Wisconsin) Democrat
, April 23,
1852
.
Pennsylvania Freeman
(Philadelphia), October 30,
1851
–March 3,
1853
.
Philadelphia Inquirer
, March 3,
1853
.
Pittsfield Sun
(MA), October 16,
1851
.
Plain Dealer
(Utica, NY), October 23,
1851
.
Platteville (Wisconsin) Independent American
, October 24,
1851
.
Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Journal of Literature and Politics
, January 31,
1852
.
The Public Ledger
(Philadelphia), January 3,
1849
.
Republican Farmer
(Bridgeport, CT), July 15,
1845
.
Rochester (New York) Daily Advertiser
, December 13,
1851
.
Rochester (New York) Daily Democrat
, December 13,
1851
.
Sacramento (California) Weekly
, April 15,
1852
.
Salem (Massachusetts) Register
,
10
October 10,
1851
–February 9,
1852
.
Sandusky (Ohio) Register
, January 19,
1852
.
Savannah (Georgia) Republican
, October 22–November 1,
1851
.
Springfield (Massachusetts) Daily Post
, January 26,
1852
.
Taunton (Massachusetts) Daily Gazette
, February 12,
1852
.
The (Lowell, Massachusetts) Monitor
, February 14,
1852
.
The (Massachusetts) Mercury
, February 10,
1852
.
The Carpet Bag
(Boston), February 14,
1852
.
Toronto Globe
, May 13,
1852
.
Trenton (New Jersey) State Gazette
, October 15–December 18,
1851
.
Troy (New York) Daily Budget
, January 17–24,
1852
.
Utica (New York) Daily Observer
, January 13,
1852
.
Utica (New York) Gazette
, January 20,
1852
.
Vermont Journal
(Montpellier), October 31,
1851
.
Voice of the Fugitive
(Sandwich, Ontario), April 8,
1852
.
Vox Populi
(Lowell, Massachusetts), February 13,
1852
.
Watertown (Wisconsin) Chronicle
, April 28,
1852
.
Wisconsin Free Democrat
(Milwaukee), March 3–April 21,
1852
.
Unpublished Sources
Clarkson School Roll Book
(
1833
). Papers of the Pennsylvania Society of Abolition of Slavery. Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Greenfield, Elizabeth H. Certificate of Land Purchase (
1825
). Mississippi Land Records, Bureau of Land Management. Mississippi State Archives.
Greenfield, Elizabeth H.
Elizabeth Greenfield's Estate Auditor's Report
(
1854
). Library Company of Philadelphia.
Greenfield, Elizabeth H.
Elizabeth Greenfield's Estate Opinion and Decree of the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania
(
1849
). Library Company of Philadelphia.
Greenfield, Elizabeth H. Plantation management. Adams County Records. Book N, 208. Mississippi State Archives.
Greenfield, Elizabeth H.
Report of Evidence in Greenfield Estate
(
1847
). Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Greenfield, Elizabeth Taylor. Death certificate (
1876
). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Death Certificates Index,
1803
1915
. Accessed October 21, 2013 via ancestry.com.
Greenfield, Elizabeth Taylor. Playbill (
1852
). American Antiquarian Society Library.
Greenfield, Elizabeth Taylor. Playbill (
1853
). Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library.
Greenfield, Elizabeth Taylor. Will and codicil (1866 and 1876). Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Home for Destitute Colored Children
.
First Annual Report
(
1856
). Library Company of Philadelphia.
Mississippi Marriages,
1776
1935
. Marriage Book I: 190 and Book H: 191. Adams County Records. Mississippi State Archives.
Mississippi State and Territorial Census of 1792 and 1816. Accessed October 21, 2013 via ancestry.com.
Moore, Edith Wyatt.
Adams County Important Personalities
.
“Greenfield”
subject file. Mississippi State Archives.
Pennsylvania Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Archive Printed Series (
1876
): Series 2 and 6, pages 119 and 140. Accessed October 21, 2013 via ancestry.com.
Post, Amy Papers. Correspondence. University of Rochester.
Social, Civil, and Statistical Association of the Colored People of Philadelphia. Playbills for lecture series (
1865
). Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
United States Census Records (1810–1880). Accessed October 21, 2013 via ancestry.com.
1.
Although Arthur R. La Brew was the first to compile reviews of Greenfield's initial public performances in Black Swan, Elizabeth T. Greenfield, Songstress (1969), Eileen Southern was the foremost among historians who wrote Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield into histories of American music with: Southern, Music of Black Americans.
2.
Greenfield's performances can also be thought of as a hybridized practice, in which, as Radano and Bohlman explain, music “fills in the spaces between racial distinctiveness” and “is a domain that different races, depending on interpretation and case, can potentially share”; introduction to their Music and the Racial Imagination, 8.
3.
On the need to combine gender and class with race as interpretive lenses for the study of African American female musicians, see Hayes and Williams, eds., Black Women and Music, introduction.
4.
Trotter's Music and Some Highly Musical People (1878) was published two years after Greenfield's death, and he admits drawing heavily from Black Swan At Home and Abroad (1855). Trotter reprints the same newspaper reviews that appeared in the 1855 publication and does not comment on the later two decades of her career. The following accounts were published during the first years of her public concertizing: Delany, Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People, 120–21; Brief Memoir of “The Black Swan”; Black Swan At Home and Abroad.
5.
Recent scholarly discussions include: Riis, “Concert Singers, Prima Donnas, and Entertainers,” 54–59; Gable-Wilson, “Let Freedom Sing! Four African-American Concert Singers”; Brooks, Bodies in Dissent, 312–14; Reed, “Black Women in Art Music,” 181–83; Pryor, “‘Jim Crow’ Cars, Passport Denials and Atlantic Crossings,” 235–43; Black, “Abolitionism's Resonant Bodies;” Eidsheim,“Marian Anderson and ‘Sonic Blackness’ in American Opera;” Schenbeck, Racial Uplift and American Music, 54–56. For their sharing of unpublished findings and ideas, I want to thank Sarah Meredith, who has done some work on the biography of Greenfield's life prior to the Buffalo debut, and Elizabeth Anne Pryor, who has researched Greenfield in the context of her work on African American travel in the nineteenth century.
6.
On slave song descriptions written by white Americans, see Radano, Lying Up a Nation, chap. 2. On later generations of African American singers, see: Reed, “Black Women in Art Music”; and Eidsheim,“Marian Anderson and ‘Sonic Blackness’ in American Opera.”
7.
Various official documents report different birth years, but there is no known birth certificate. On October 14, 1847, she reported being 30 years old, which would indicate 1817 as a birth year; see Report of Evidence in Greenfield Estate, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The death certificate lists 1819 as birth year; the US Census of 1860 lists 1820 as a birth year; a passport application dated 1853 (accessed via ancestry.com) lists her as 27 years old, which would indicate a birth year of 1826.
8.
Although she used the name Elizabeth (or Eliza) Taylor Greenfield throughout her professional life, at school in 1833 and again in 1866 when writing a will she used Elizabeth (or Eliza) Taylor; will and codocil for Eliza Taylor, 1866/1876; and Clarkson School Roll Book (1833); Papers of the Pennsylvania Society of Abolition of Slavery, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
9.
Pennsylvania Marriage Records, Pennsylvania Archive Printed Series (1876): Series 2 and 6. Jesse Greenfield appears in Earliest Township Public Land Survey, Mississippi, found in Mississippi State and Territorial Census Collection (1792).
10.
Elizabeth Greenfield appears in the US Census of 1810 as head of household and owner of the Adams County, Mississippi, land. Benjamin Roach married Elizabeth Greenfield in Adams County Mississippi on February 23, 1811, according to Mississippi Marriages, 1776–1935 (accessed via ancestry.com).
11.
Marriage Book I, 190; and Book H, 191 in Adams County Records, Mississippi State Archives. Elizabeth Greenfield is described as a philanthropist in Edith Wyatt Moore, Adams County Important Personalities, Mississippi State Archives subject file.
12.
E. H. Greenfield donated a country estate to the Methodist church for the establishment of a female academy near Washington, Mississippi in 1818, later named Elizabeth Female Academy in her honor. For more on the history of the academy, see: Mississippi Department of Education, Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education to the Legislature of Mississippi, 361; Mayes, History of Education in Mississippi, 38–39; Bangs and Emory, “Report of the Committee on Education,” 274.
13.
Benjamin Roach is listed in the Mississippi State and Territorial Census of 1816 (accessed via ancestry.com). Philadelphia City Directories begin listing Elizabeth Greenfield as resident in 1823, but she continued to purchase Mississippi land in 1825 according to Mississippi Land Records, Bureau of Land Management, Mississippi Pre-1908 (Certificate of Land Purchase, 1825, Mississippi State Archives). The New Orleans (Louisiana) Argus of May 17, 1828, reports Elizabeth Greenfield buying land from the Treasury of Louisiana. Elizabeth Greenfield of Adams, Mississippi, held fourteen slaves according to US Census of 1830. From Philadelphia, Elizabeth Greenfield signed papers leasing land and slaves to manager Ephraim Foster, according to Book N, 208, Adams County Records, Mississippi State Archives.
14.
Elizabeth H. Greenfield of Philadelphia paid $429.97 to the American Colonization Society for transportation of emigrants from New Orleans, according to the American Colonization Society, African Repository and Colonial Journal, 7:287. Notice of the ship sailing from Norfolk appears on page 217 and in the Alexandria (Virginia) Gazette, September 17, 1831.
15.
American Colonization Society, African Repository and Colonial Journal, 7:342–43.
16.
Report of Evidence in Greenfield Estate (1847), Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 10.
17.
Ibid., 35.
18.
Ibid., 135–36.
19.
As E. T. Greenfield began her concert performance career, several individuals (Theophilus E. Beesley, Joseph Howell, Mrs. John B. Bispham, Mrs. Alfred M. Collins, and J. E. Tevis) from her childhood neighborhood in Philadelphia wrote to authenticate facts of her biography, and did so in consistently fond and familiar terms. The letters are reprinted in The Black Swan At Home and Abroad, 27–28.
20.
Friends Meeting Houses stood at the South-east corner of 4th and Mulberry and South-east corner of 5th and Mulberry, according to McElroy's Philadelphia City Directory, 345.
21.
Report of Evidence in Greenfield Estate (1847), 9 and 34.
22.
For more on Quaker education for African Americans, see Lindhorst, “Sarah Mapps Douglass,” 39.
23.
Clarkson School Roll Book (1833), Papers of the Pennsylvania Society of Abolition of Slavery, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
24.
Lindhorst, “Sarah Mapps Douglass,” 92.
25.
Joseph Wilson's 1841 depiction of upper class black life, for example, includes portraits of parlors and pianos, women who paint, sing, play instruments and pass time with needlework. For discussion, see Lapsansky, “‘Since They Got Those Separate Churches,’” 110.
26.
For a recent biography of Johnson that places him into local and national contexts, see Jones, Francis Johnson (1792–1844).
27.
O'Brien's Commercial Intelligencer City and Country Merchants Wholesale Business Directory for Philadelphia, 103–4.
28.
Black Swan At Home and Abroad, 4; Brief Memoir of “The Black Swan,” 5.
29.
William Price, physician, lived at 36 N. 9th in Philadelphia in 1823, according to Desilver, Robert Desilver's Philadelphia Index or Directory, 291, and at 276 Arch Street in 1848, according to Downes, Philadelphia Almanac, 84.
30.
For more information on historical segregation in Philadelphia neighborhoods, see Nash, Forging Freedom, 164–71. By 1850, blacks owned homes in all Philadelphia neighborhoods according to Lapsansky, “Since They Got Those Separate Churches,” 114.
31.
On the history of Philadelphia's African American leaders of abolition, see: Carson, Lapsansky-Werner and Nash, Struggle For Freedom, 187; and Winch, Philadelphia's Black Elite, introduction and chap. 4. Lapsansky also writes about economic disparity among African Americans in Philadelphia; “Since They Got Those Separate Churches,” 96. For more on class differences within nineteenth-century African American communities in Philadelphia, see: Hershberg, “Free Blacks in Antebellum Philadelphia,” 127.
32.
Winch, Philadelphia's Black Elite, 152.
33.
Lapsansky, “Since They Got Those Separate Churches,” 102.
34.
Winch, Philadelphia's Black Elite, chap. 7.
35.
Report of Evidence in Greenfield Estate (1847), 35.
36.
Ibid., 32–34.
37.
Elizabeth H. Greenfield, Elizabeth Greenfield's Estate Opinion and Decree of the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania (1849), 4; Library Company of Philadelphia. Idem, Elizabeth Greenfield's Estate Auditor's Report (1854), 8–9; Library Company of Philadelphia. Idem, Report of Evidence in Greenfield Estate (1847), 106. Because Elizabeth H. Greenfield was about a hundred years old upon her death, her obituary appeared in numerous papers including Republican Farmer (Bridgeport, CT), July 15, 1845 and National Aegis (Worcester, MA), July 16, 1845.
38.
Report of Evidence in Greenfield Estate (1847), 8.
39.
The Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, DC), February 8, 1848, reported the lawsuit brought against Greenfield Estate; The Public Ledger (Philadelphia), January 3, 1849, reported of court proceedings in the case against Greenfield Estate. The North American and United States Gazette (Philadelphia), March 21, 1851, reported that the estate was still not settled but parts of the Greenfield Estate would be sold at auction including six properties in Philadelphia and bank stock. In the midst of her concert tour in March of 1852, E. T. Greenfield received a letter from E. H. Greenfield's niece, D. T. Howell, reporting that the estate was still not settled. The letter was reprinted in Black Swan At Home and Abroad, 26. See also Elizabeth Greenfield's Estate Opinion and Decree of the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania (1849) and Elizabeth Greenfield's Estate Auditor's Report (1854).
40.
She lived at “Old York Road below Coates” according to McElroy's Philadelphia City Directory (1850), 160.
41.
Brief Memoir of “The Black Swan,” 6; Black Swan At Home and Abroad, 5.
42.
Several nineteenth-century publications mention the Potters' philanthropic work, including Edwards, American Quarterly Register, 47; Directory for the City of Buffalo, 5–8; Ketchum, An Authentic and Comprehensive History of Buffalo, 2:244; and the Twelfth Report of the American Home Missionary Society, 97.
43.
Liberator (Boston), October 31, 1851.
44.
Sandusky (Ohio) Register, January 19, 1852.
45.
Trenton (New Jersey) State Gazette, December 18, 1851.
46.
Buffalo (New York) Daily Express, October 23, 1851.
47.
Lowell (Massachusetts) Monitor, February 14, 1852.
48.
Buffalo (New York) Commercial Advertiser and Buffalo (New York) Daily Express, October 17, 1851.
49.
Commercial Advertiser Directory for the City of Buffalo, 105.
50.
Perry G. Parker, Herman B. Potter, George R. Babcock, and E. J. Baldwin (all according to US Census for 1850); Henry W. Rogers (Commercial Advertiser Directory, 259); Channing G. Fenner (ibid., 159); Horatio Seymour (ibid., 271); Hiram Barton (ibid., 108); Asher P. Nichols (ibid., 238); and The Honorable Frederick P. Stevens, County Judge (ibid., 283, and US Census for 1850).
51.
Nathaniel Wilgus (Commercial Advertiser Directory, 308); Cyrenius C. Bristol (ibid., 121); Nathaniel Rogers (ibid., 259); Emory Taunt (ibid., 288, and US Census for 1850).
52.
L. F. Tiffany (Commercial Advertiser Directory, 291, and US Census for 1850); Stephen V. R. Watson (US Census for 1850).
53.
Noah P. Sprague, Hiram G. Howard, Robert Hollister, and H. E. Howard (all according to US Census for 1850).
54.
Charles W. Harvey (Commercial Advertiser Directory, 182); A. S. Sprague (US Census for 1850).
55.
William A. Seaver (Commercial Advertiser Directory, 270); Theodore N. Parmelee (ibid., 243); Oliver G. Steele (ibid., 282); S. H. Lathrop (US Census for 1850); James O. Brayman (ibid.); Charles E. Young (ibid.).
56.
Music store owner John Sage (Commercial Advertiser Directory, 263); organist J. R. Blodgett (ibid., 116).
57.
Frederick Douglass's Paper (Rochester, New York), February 26, 1852.
58.
For list of repertoire performed on this tour, see  Appendix B, pp. 158–59.
59.
E. T. Greenfield sang with an instrumental ensemble conducted by William Appo at Bethel church in Baltimore, Maryland in 1848, according to Brawley, Negro Genius, 76.
60.
Buffalo (New York) Daily Express, October 18, 1851.
61.
Frederick Douglass's Paper (Rochester, New York), February 26, 1852.
62.
This letter from the citizens of Rochester was reprinted in ibid., December 11, 1851.
63.
Edwin Scrantom and M. F. Reynolds, merchants; George Dutton Jr. and Alexander Grant, owners of music store (US Census for 1850).
64.
Levi A. Ward and E. Pershine Smith (US Census for 1850); James S. Bush (Daily American Directory of the City of Rochester, 77).
65.
Lawrence R. Jerome and F. S. Ren, newspaper publishers (US Census for 1850); Alexander Mann, editor of the Daily American (Directory of the City of Rochester, 174).
66.
Feeman Clarke (US Census for 1850).
67.
Darius Perrin, postmaster (US Census for 1850).
68.
Elias Pond, collector (Directory of the City of Rochester, 198); George Hart, bookbinder from Germany (US Census for 1850); Lewis P. Beers, miller (US Census for 1850); D. T. Walbridge, Livery Keeper (US Census for 1850).
69.
Rochester (New York) Daily Advertiser, December 13, 1851.
70.
Frederick Douglass's Paper (Rochester, New York), December 11–18, 1851.
71.
Salem (Massachusetts) Register, October 10, 1851.
72.
For a history of P. T. Barnum's midcentury activities, see: Adams, E Pluribus Barnum, 43.
73.
Martin Robinson Delaney alludes to this in: Frederick Douglass's Paper (Rochester, New York), April 22, 1853.
74.
Taking Wood as manager was widely reported, including in: Albany (New York) Evening Journal, December 22, 1851, and Boston (Massachusetts) Daily Courier, December 25, 1851.
75.
On Wood's connection to P. T. Barnum, see Adams, E Pluribus Barnum, 101. Wood's connection to Barnum was noted in Wood's obituary: Chicago (Illinois) Daily Tribune, October 22, 1892.
76.
Itineraries for touring European pianists, as documented by R. Allen Lott, are similar to Greenfield's route through the East Coast and Midwest. From Paris to Peoria, 295–302.
77.
Boston (Massachusetts) Daily Courier, January 29, 1852. See also Dana, Fireman, 288.
78.
Musical World (New York), February 28, 1852.
79.
Boston (Massachusetts) Daily Atlas, February 3, 1852.
80.
For the tour, reconstructed based on newspaper coverage of her concerts, see  Appendix A, p. 157.
81.
Voice of the Fugitive (Sandwich, Ontario), April 8, 1852; Gleason's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion (Boston), April 17, 1852.
82.
Pennsylvania Freeman (Philadelphia), April 22, 1852.
83.
Voice of the Fugitive (Sandwich, Ontario), April 8, 1852.
84.
Albany (New York) Register and Frederick Douglass's Paper (Rochester, New York), February 5, 1852.
85.
Troy Daily Budget, January 23, 1852.
86.
Boston (Massachusetts) Evening Transcript, January 30, 1852. Similar events took place in other cities ahead of the public concerts; see, Detroit (Michigan) Commercial Advertiser, April 3, 1852, and April 5, 1852.
87.
Background information on the Smith family's abolitionism is found in Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery, 223 and 264.
88.
Letter reprinted in Black Swan At Home and Abroad, 11–12.
89.
James Oliver Horton analyzes expected decorum for African American women in the public eye in “Freedom's Yoke,” 173–74.
90.
Troy (New York) Daily Budget, January 17, 1852; Carpet Bag (Boston), February 14, 1852.
91.
Rochester (New York) Daily Democrat, December 13, 1851.
92.
Kalamazoo (Michigan) Gazette, April 16, 1852.
93.
Boston (Massachusetts) Evening Transcript, Feburary 4, 1852; Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Sentinel, April 20, 1852; Utica (New York) Daily Observer, January 13, 1852; Utica (New York) Gazette, January 20, 1852.
94.
Hartford (Connecticut) Daily Courant, February 20, 1852; Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer, February 23, 1852.
95.
Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer, February 28, 1852.
96.
Letter from Howard to Greenfield, reprinted in The Black Swan At Home and Abroad, 42.
97.
Black Swan At Home and Abroad, 35.
98.
Ibid., 36–38.
99.
Pennsylvania Freeman (Philadelphia), March 3, 1853; Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Inquirer, March 3, 1853; Cleveland (Ohio) Herald, March 4, 1853.
100.
Buffalo (New York) Commercial Advertiser, February 24, 1853.
101.
New York Times, March 20, 1853.
102.
New York Herald, April 1, 1853.
103.
New York Times, April 1, 1853.
104.
Both Greenfield and Lind sang French and Italian opera arias such as “Do Not Mingle” from Bellini's La sonnambula and “Salute à la France” from Donizetti's La fille du régiment; ballads of the British Isles such as “Comin' Thro' the Rye,” “John Anderson My Jo John,” and “Last Rose of Summer”; and sentimental songs thematizing home and family such as “My Home My Happy Home” and “Home Sweet Home.” For more complete listing of Greenfield's repertoire for the inaugural tour, see  Appendix B, p. 158–59. For information on accommodations, see Boston (Massachusetts) Daily Atlas, January 30, 1852; and Buffalo (New York) Commerical Advertiser, February 28, 1852.
105.
Buffalo (New York) Daily Express, October 17, 1851.
106.
Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Sentinel, October 16, 1851; Salem (Massachusetts) Register, October 20, 1851; Plain Dealer (Utica, New York), October 23, 1851; Platteville (Wisconsin) Independent American, October 24, 1851; Brooklyn (New York) Eagle, October 29, 1851; Vermont Journal (Montpellier), October 31, 1851; Liberator (Boston), October 31, 1851 and November 1, 1851; Voice of the Fugitive (Sandwich, Ontario), April 8, 1852; Wisconsin Free Democrat (Milwaukee), April 21, 1852; Watertown (Wisconsin) Chronicle, April 28, 1852.
107.
Lockport (New York) Journal, December 24, 1851.
108.
Democratic Standard (Janesville, Wisconsin), December 31, 1851.
109.
Daily Republican (Springfield, Illinois), January 26 1852.
110.
For background on midcentury American audience expectations and Lind's reception, see: Ahlquist, Democracy at the Opera, 182–97; Block, “Two Virtuoso Performers in Boston: Jenny Lind and Camilla Urso,” 355–72; Adams, E Pluribus Barnum, 41–74.
111.
Trenton (New Jersey) State Gazette, October 15, 1851, October 30, 1851; Brooklyn (New York) Eagle, October 16, 1851; Pittsfield Sun (Massachuesetts), October 16, 1851; Boston (Massachusetts) Daily Atlas, October 16, 1851; Buffalo (New York) Daily Express, October 23, 1851; Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer, October 23, 1851; Detroit (Michigan) Daily Free Press, December 5, 1851; Brooklyn (New York) Eagle, October 29, 1851; Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Sentinel, October 29, 1851; Pennsylvania Freeman (Philadelphia), October 30, 1851; Vermont Journal (Montpellier), October 29, 1851; Albany (New York) Evening Journal, January 19, 1852.
112.
Buffalo (New York) Commercial Advertiser, October 10 1851.
113.
Ibid., October 21, 1851.
114.
Albany (New York) Evening Journal, January 19, 1852; Albany (New York) State Register, January 19, 1852; Daily Evening Traveler (Boston), January 31, 1852; Massachusetts Spy (Worcester), February 4, 1852.
115.
Boston (Massachusetts) Evening Transcript, January 30, 1852; Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer, February 25, 1852.
116.
Frederick Douglass's Paper (Rochester, New York),December 18, 1851; Rochester (New York) Daily Democrat, December 13, 1851; Oshkosh (Wisconsin) Democrat, April 23, 1852; Buffalo (New York) Commercial Advertiser, October 21, 1851; Lockport (New York) Journal, December 31, 1851; Albany (New York) Evening Journal, January 19, 1852; Vox Populi (Lowell, MA), February 13, 1852.
117.
Frederick Douglass's Paper (Rochester, New York), December 18, 1851; Pennsylvania Freedman, January 1, 1852.
118.
Utica (New York) Daily Observer, January 13, 1852. This writer's use of the word “supernatural” to describe Greenfield's performance that was otherwise difficult to comprehend is particularly striking, considering the long history of aligning blackness with the supernatural in the context of opera performance. This historical pattern is explored in Naomi André, Karen M. Bryan, and Eric Saylor's edited collection: Blackness in Opera (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012).
119.
The Carpet Bag (Boston), February14, 1852.
120.
New York Daily Tribune, April 2, 1853.
121.
Buffalo (New York) Daily Express, October 17, 1851.
122.
Buffalo (New York) Commercial Advertiser, October 21, 1851.
123.
Buffalo (New York) Daily Courier, October 23, 1851.
124.
Boston (Massachusetts) Evening Transcript, October 25, 1851, February 4, 1852; Trenton (New Jersey) State Gazette, October 30, 1851; Liberator (Boston), November 1, 1851, February 6, 1852; Rochester (New York) Daily Advertiser, December 13, 1851; Rochester (New York) Daily Democrat, December 13, 1851; Albany (New York) State Register, January 19, 1852; Troy (New York) Daily Budget, January 24, 1852; Pennsylvania Freeman (Philadelphia), January 29, and February 12, 1852; Boston Evening Transcript, January 30, 1852; Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Journal of Literature and Politics, January 31, 1852; Salem (Massachusetts) Register, February 9, 1852; Vox Populi (Lowell MA), February 13, 1852; Mississippi Free Trader (Natchez), February 18, 1852; Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Sentinel, April 21, 1852.
125.
Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer, February 25, 1852; Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Sentinel, April 21, 1852.
126.
Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer, March 11, 1852.
127.
Buffalo (New York) Commercial Advertiser, October 23, 1851.
128.
Boston (Massachusetts) Evening Gazette, January 31, 1852.
129.
New York Daily Tribune, April 2, 1853.
130.
The Carpet Bag (Boston), February 14. 1852.
131.
New Hampshire Patriot (Concord), October 29, 1851.
132.
Buffalo (New York) Commercial Advertiser, October 10, 1851.
133.
Cleveland (Ohio) Daily Herald, October 11, 1851; Brooklyn (New York) Eagle, October 16, 1851; Salem (Massachusetts) Register, October 20, 1851; Liberator (Boston), October 31, 1851.
134.
Mississippi Free Trader, December 10, 1851.
135.
Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer, February 25, 1852.
136.
Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer, March 11, 1852.
137.
Kenosha (Wisconsin) Democrat, April 24, 1852.
138.
Toronto (Ontario) Globe, May 13, 1852.
139.
The Carpet Bag (Boston), February 14, 1852.
140.
Taunton (Massachusetts) Daily Gazette, February 12, 1852.
141.
Ohio State Journal (Columbus), March 3, 1852.
142.
For a discussion about white Northerners' rising midcentury interest in seeing and hearing black bodies, see: Black, “Abolitionism's Resonant Bodies.”
143.
Leonard Cassuto traces the grotesque in literature and culture across American history in The Inhuman Race, paying particular attention to the prevalence of grotesque depictions of African Americans in abolitionist and pro-slavery writings.
144.
Detroit (Michigan) Daily Advertiser, April 3, 1852.
145.
Pennsylvania Freeman (Philadelphia), March 18, 1852; Liberator (Boston), March 26, 1852.
146.
Wisconsin Free Democrat (Milwaukee), April 21, 1852.
147.
Rochester (New York) Daily Advertiser, December 13, 1851.
148.
On the topic of “cultural fraud,” see, Cook, The Arts of Deception, 25–29.
149.
Ibid., 15–23.
150.
Cleveland (Ohio) Daily Herald, January 21, 1852.
151.
“Non-descript” in this quotation must mean “beyond description.” Pennsylvania Freeman (Philadelphia), February 12, 1852.
152.
Boston (Massachusetts) Daily Atlas, October 17, 1851; Buffalo (New York) Daily Courier, October 22, 1851; Springfield (Massachusetts) Daily Post, January 26, 1852; Carpet Bag (Boston), February 14, 1852.
153.
Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer, February 25, 1852.
154.
For ubiquity of trickster characters in blackface minstrelsy, see Lott, “Blackface and Blackness,” 3–32.
155.
Buffalo (New York) Daily Express, October 23, 1851; reprinted in Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Sentinel, October 29, 1851.
156.
Adams analyzes Barnum's marketing strategies regarding abolition in E Pluribus Barnum, 63.
157.
Liberator (Boston), March 26, 1852.
158.
Lowell (Massachusetts) Daily Morning News, February 7, 1852; Wisconsin Free Democrat (Milwaukee), March 3, 1852; Albany (New York) Evening Journal, January 19. 1852; Utica (New York) Gazette, January 20. 1852.
159.
Alexandria (Virginia) Gazette, February 10, 1852.
160.
Frederick Douglass's Paper (Rochester, New York), February 26, 1852.
161.
Frederick Douglass's Paper (Rochester, New York), October 23, 1851.
162.
Oshkosh (Wisconsin) Democrat, April 23, 1852.
163.
Anti-Fugitive Slave Law activists in New York mentioned Greenfield's concertizing in their correspondence. Letter William C. Nell to Amy Post, Lockport, May 5, 1852; Harriet Brent Jacobs to Amy Post, July 31, no year; Amy Post Papers, University of Rochester.
164.
Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; Truth, Narrative of Sojourner Truth.
165.
Mulatto characters figure prominently in, for example, the first American novel to sell over a million copies: Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.
166.
Ohio Anti Slavery Bugle (New Lisbon), Februrary 28, 1852; Liberator (Boston), March 19, 1852.
167.
See, for example: Lemire, “Miscegenation”: Making Race in America; and Raimon, “Tragic Mulatta” Revisited.
168.
New York Herald, April 1, 1853.
169.
The (Massachusetts) Mercury, February 10, 1852.
170.
Two such studies include: Bean, “Transgressing the Gender Divide”; and Lott, Love and Theft, 235–36.
171.
New York Herald, April 1, 1853.
172.
Savannah (Georgia) Republican, October 22, 1851.
173.
Ibid., November 1, 1851.
174.
Daily Alabama Journal (Montgomery), February 11, 1852.
175.
Floridian and Journal (Tallahassee), March 20, 1852; Macon (Georgia) Weekly Telegraph, March 16, 1852.
176.
Sacramento (California) Weekly, April 15, 1852.
177.
For more on the English tour, see: Chybowski, “‘Black Swan’ in England.”
178.
Home for Destitute Colored Children, First Annual Report (1856), Library Company of Philadelphia. Social, Civil, and Statistical Association of the Colored People of Philadelphia, playbills for lecture series (1865), Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
179.
Radano's Lying Up a Nation provides broad context for history of black music told by whites, beginning with music of slaves.
180.
For this broad historical context, see Reed, “Black Women in Art Music.” On the biography and reception of Sissieretta Jones, see Graziano,“The Early Life and Career of the ‘Black Patti.’” Nina Sun Eidsheim places Marian Anderson within a historical context that goes back to E. T. Greenfield, in “Marian Anderson and ‘Sonic Blackness’ in American Opera.”
181.
Sources for this compilation of repertoire include newspapers covering her tour and playbills housed at the American Antiquarian Society Library (1852) and Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library (1853).