Penn Library Department of Special Collections

William Penn

Keffer Collection of Sheet Music,
ca. 1790-1895

Content and design by John Bewley

Collection History
Guide Statistics
Focus on Philadelphia
Composers Publishers Lithographers Imagesand Music
List of Topics
Related Resources

Philadelphia Composers: Edwin Pearce Christy (1815-1862)

Portrait of Edwin Pearce Christy from a lithograph by Sarony & Major, 1848
Edwin Pearce Christy

Edwin Pearce Christy, minstrel manager and performer, was born in Philadelphia. He began his career as a minstrel in Buffalo and toured upstate New York from 1843 to 1845. The group took the name of its founder and became known as the Christy's Minstrels. In April 1846 Christy and his band of six performers began performing in New York City at Palmo's Opera House. The group performed at Mechanics Hall from February 15, 1847 to July 15, 1854. After performing at a benefit performance for Stephen Foster in Cincinnati on August 25, 1847 the group specialized in performances of Foster's works. Foster sold his song, Old Folks at Home, to Christy for his exclusive use.

Christy retired as a performer in 1855 but continued as a manager. He operated a chain of theaters called Christy's Opera Houses in several cities. The name of the original group, Christy's Minstrels, was licensed for use by a new organization and became synonymous with the performance tradition of blackface minstrelsy. Fearful of financial reverses due to the upheaval of the Civil War, Christy committed suicide in New York on May 21, 1862.

Compositions by or associated with Christy in the Collection
Item No.TitleImprintPlate No.Illustration
Box 20
no. 26
Christy's Katy Dean : a celebrated Ethiopian melody : as sung by the Christy Minstrels / words by T. Vaughn ; arranged by E. P. Christy New York : Wm. Hall & Son, 1850 655 Decorative title page / H. F. Greene, Sc.
Box 22
no. 3
Cynthia Sue : as sung by Christy's Minstrels
Collection title: Music of the original Christy Minstrels, the oldest established band in the United States, as arranged & sung by them with distinguished success at all their concerts
New York : C. Holt, Jr., 1848 None None
Box 20
no. 30
Nancy Tease / sung by Geo. N. Christy ; written & composed by Edwin P. Christy
Collection title: The Gems of the Christy's
New York : Wm. Van Derbeek, 1848 None Collection titles set within an ornamental frame that houses seven figures from the Christy Minstrel shows / L. Delnoce
Box 22
no. 18
Old Folks at Home : Ethiopian melody as sung by Christy's Minstrels / written and composed by E. P. Christy [actually composed by Stephen Collins Foster] New York : Firth, Pond & Co., 1851 1332 Decorative title page / Weller & Greene


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