July 24, 2006

Turn of the century racist jokebooks

Ventriloquism bookMy friend and fellow photographer Brian Berman has been working on a series of portraits at off-beat conventions around the country. He recently came back from the Vent Haven Ventriloquists Convention where he purchased this book from 1902, Callahan’s Easy Method for Learning Ventriloquism Quickly.

I wasn’t really too surprised by the racist depiction of the ventriloquist’s dummy on the cover, but I was surprised when I turned the book over and saw the advertisements on the back cover. The publisher, Wehman Brothers, featured a selection of racist joke books, available from their store in lower Manhattan. Some of the books are tame titles like Choice Riddles but then there are titles like Coon Jokes and Hebrew Jokes that would never fly today.

Racist Jokebooks
Racist Jokebooks


So are these going to go into the ad rotation in the right column of the site now?

The one that gets me the most is the Dutch Jokes book. Everyone knows the Dutch are too boring to mock. They couldn’t even come up with a good ethnic slur for the title.


Actually, both dummys are racist — the one in his lap is a Irish buffoon type.

And now the “racism” has turned full circle — “redneck” and “hillbilly” jokes are quite common (and, incredibly, white folk laugh at them!) but woe betide the individual daring to make a racist joke against a member of the Protected Class. Yes, folks, “racism” is alive and well — just not the kind you’d think.

Why the hell are racist jokes these days considered to be naughty , ilegal , imoral and so on……………..that makes racist jokes more enjoyable .

Wow. I certainly winced when I saw the Irish one.

Of course, today we have moved beyond such primitive prejudices based on skin color, and now discriminate based on class alone. A purified system, if you will.