January 18, 1849 (Thursday)

Went to hear the Virginia Serenaders, to-night.  This is really an excellent band—much better than last season.  They are seven in number.

The weather is very cold.

The Virginia Serenaders, also known as the Virginia Minstrels, was an “Ethiopian” minstrelsy group, that is, a black-face musical and comedy troupe.  The group had been performing in Philadelphia since the early 1830s.  Two Serenaders, Eph Horn and James Sanford, became very famous.  Scharf and Wescott claim, “[t]here was a great deal of genius in their performance.” By 1853, the city would have the first Ethiopian opera house, an indication of the popularity of this type of entertainment. Nathan, who will enjoy the Virginia Serenaders several more times in 1849, saw the act at the Chestnut St. Theatre, 201 Chestnut Street (corner of South 2nd Street).

Virginia Serenaders at the Chestnut Street Theatre

from the Philadelphia Inquirer, January 17, 1849, page 3, col. 5.

To give an idea of the type of fare performed by the Virginia Serenaders, see this broadside from the AAS collection advertising a performance of another incarnation of the group in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1844.

Virginia Serenaders - 1844

from the American Antiquarian Society collection, call number BDSDS. 1844

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