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Michelle R. Scott: T.O.B.A. Time: Black Show Business and the Theater Owners Booking Association in 1920s America


April 11, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Location: Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, 7th Floor

A Black woman with red glasses smiles at the camera.

The Social Sciences Forum presents the annual Low Lecture, featuring Michelle R. Scott, professor of history and affiliate faculty in GW+SS, LLC, and Africana Studies at UMBC, who will speak on T.O.B.A. Time: Black Show Business and the Theater Owners Booking Association in 1920s America.

This talk centers on Michelle Scott’s new monograph, T.O.B.A. Time: Black Vaudeville and the Theater Owners Booking Association in Jazz Age America. T.O.B.A. Time is intriguing account of black entertainment and black business during the 1920s and 30s. It details origins of artists and entrepreneurs like S.H. Dudley, Bessie Smith, Butterbeans & Susie, and Cab Calloway, and the theater circuit that made them famous in segregated America.

Professor Michelle R. Scott’s teaching and research interests include 20th-century United States history, African American history, women’s history, black musical culture, and civil rights. She has published in Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times, (University of Georgia Press, 2009) and is the author of Blues Empress in Black Chattanooga: Bessie Smith and the Emerging Urban South (University of Illinois Press, 2008). Professor Scott is currently working on a study of the origins and economic ramifications of a pivotal black vaudeville theater circuit in the 1920s and 30s. She is the recipient of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Career Enhancement Fellowship, an MHEC Henry C. Welcome Grant, and a Smithsonian Institution Senior Fellowship. She mentors Historical Studies master’s and LLC doctoral students, particularly in women’s and African American history. Former students have gone on to graduate programs at institutions such as Georgia State University, American University, Morgan State University, and Ohio State University. Professor Scott is an affiliate associate professor in Africana Studies, Gender, Women’s + Sexuality Studies, and the Language, Literature, and Culture Doctoral Program. She won the 2015 University of Maryland Regents’ Award for Excellence in Mentoring and she was the 2015–2018 UMBC Presidential Teaching Professor. Her article, “These Ladies Do Business with a Capital B: The Griffin Sisters As Black Businesswomen in Early Vaudeville,” in The Journal of African American History (Fall 2016), won the 2017 Letitia Woods Brown Article Prize for the best article in African American Women’s History from the Association of Black Women’s Historians (ABWH). In Fall 2017, Prof. Scott held a CAHSS Research Fellowship.

Admission is free.

Organized by the Department of History and cosponsored by the Center for Social Science Scholarship.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Scott.



April 11
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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