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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 1914

McIntyre & Heath Minstrels collection

Collection of photographs, scripts, musical instruments, and ephemera documenting the blackface minstrel act, McIntyre & Heath.


  • circa 1870-1960

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.
A portion of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


.5 linear feet (5 boxes)

Collection includes photographs, printed and manuscript scripts, manuscript music, business papers, a few letters, ephemera, a pair of leather shoes, a banjo ukulele, and a violin. Some photographs and an album come from the Heath family.

Biographical / Historical

James McIntyre and Thomas Heath met in San Antonio (Tex.) in 1874. Both men had been performing since their teenage years; they formed an act in which McIntyre played a stable-boy named Alexander Hambletonian and Heath, an entertainer named Henry Jones who routinely outwitted Alexander. Their act was influential in its time; W.C. Fields worked for them early in his career, and Al Jolson and others began to present African-American music to a broader audience.
The duo was notable for having introduced the buck and wing dance, an African-American forerunner of tap dancing, as well as the stock minstrel character of the blackface tramp clown. The latter character may have made use of oversized shoes made to resemble bare black feet (as are present in this collection).


Arranged in five series: Photographs; Scripts; Business records; Ephemera; and Artifacts.

Physical Location

b, Harvard Depository

Custodial History

Collection is said by the seller to have come ultimately from the estate of Thomas Heath.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2019MT-119. Purchased from Walkabout Books with funds from the Francis W. Hatch Book Fund, 2019 February.

Processing Information

Processing Information Processed by Melanie Wisner, 2019.
Link to catalog
McIntyre & Heath Minstrels collection, circa 1870-1960 (MS Thr 1914): Guide
Houghton Library, Harvard University
2019 March 1
Description rules
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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