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126893 126893_1

"Sing Sing Minstrels" & "Sing Sing Revue"; two original 1930s prison concert programmes.

Availability: In stock

Published: Ossining, NY Sing Sing Prison, 1931 & 1933

Stock Code: 126893

OR On display in 100 Fulham Road


Two rare original programmes from the 1931 and 1933 Christmas shows given by inmates at New York's Sing Sing Prison. The shows, produced and staged annually by the prison's Mutual Welfare League from 1919 on, showcased the talents of the inmates as singers, instrumentalists, and technicians, while also raising funds to provide "meagre Christmas cheer" for the prisoners, to support their families, and to finance sports and other programmes in the prison. Titled "Sing Sing Minstrels" (December 14-18, 1931; 48 pp.) and "Sing Sing Revue" (December 4-8, 1933; 32 pp.), the programmes feature graphically striking covers and contain listings of musical numbers, with all prisoners identified only with their initials; portraits of prison warden Lewis Lawes, New York Governor Herbert Lehman, and Commissioner of Correction Walter Thayer; many pages of advertising; and in the 1931 program, interior and exterior photographs of the new buildings of the prison. Influential prison warden Lewis Lawes was appointed in 1919 and remained for 20 years as Sing Sing's warden. While warden, Lawes brought about reforms and turned an institution that was notorious as an "old hellhole" into a modern prison with sports teams, educational programs, and new humane methods of discipline. Reforms in 1931 gave Sing Sing State Penitentiary prisoners permission to partake in recreation opportunities. The baseball and football teams, and the vaudeville presentations and concerts, were funded through revenue from paid attendance. Tim Mara, the owner of the New York Giants, sponsored the Sing Sing Black Sheep, Sing Sing's football team. Several new buildings were also constructed during the years Lawes was warden.

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Two volumes octavo (c.155 x 235 mm). Wire-stitched and glued into light card wraps.


Numerous portraits and illustrations to the text.


A little used, splash marks to the front wrap of 1933, but overall both are well preserved.


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