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Context Alert

Overview

This page is an expanded caution to readers of the historical, primary source materials we display online. Please bear in mind that the college, while it truly has always been a welcoming institution to a diverse range of people, has also been a part of the surrounding society, sharing in the attitudes and practices of the day. Thus these "primary documents" may on occasion contain material that today would be considered offensive or inappropriate. 

For example, minstrel shows, performed in blackface, were once a very common phenomenon throughout American society. They were a forerunner of vaudeville, the variety show and so on. They employed the common racist stereotypes of the day as an integral part of their performance. There were both professional touring minstrel shows, and amateur minstrel show productions. So for example in the 1930s for example a college freshman class talent show might have been a minstrel show, or a local fire company might have put on an amateur minstrel show as the highlight of its annual fundraiser. If one searches NY State Historic Newspapers for instance one can find hundreds of references in earlier years to minstrel shows at colleges like Brockport, Geneseo, Oswego and so on, as well as in local communities.

In addition, the language used to refer to people of color, the attitudes towards women, the LGBT+ community and so on, was often not what we would find acceptable at the present time.

Preserving and making more accessible in digital form materials such as these is the business of history, and does not imply that SUNY Brockport endorses or finds acceptable expressions and images such as those mentioned above. It means that we intend a transparency about our history, neither denying nor endorsing it, rather leaving it to you the reader to use it for research and study in its original, uncensored form.

   Readers with questions or comments, or with an interest in researching the experience of diverse students and staff in our history are encouraged to contact the college archives at archives@brockport.edu..

Last Updated: Apr 10, 2020 3:06 PM
URL: https://library.brockport.edu/archives