Flora Irwin, c.1875

Nora, Photographer
Media Type:
Item Type:
Photographic print of Flora Irwin dressed in a costume at a photographic studio.
Flora Irwin was May Irwin's sister.

May Irwin was a Canadian singer, songwriter, and comic performer who enjoyed popularity and prestige on the American stage from the late 1890s until the end of the 1910s. Key to Irwin’s popularity was her role as a “coon-shouter” and a performer of “coon songs,” deeply racist forms that emerge from minstrel musical traditions and blackface performances. Irwin’s considerable success was achieved via her reproduction of hate speech—speech which contributed to the oppression and death of many black persons in North America. For more information on Irwin’s life and her hate speech, see the following link: https://www.archeion.ca/campbell-georgina-may-1862-1938

Archives at Whitby Public Library maintains a collection of Irwin’s sheet music and associated ephemera. The sheet music in this archive is hate speech. The sheet music represents some of the most popular music of Irwin’s time, and as such constitutes important evidence of the anti-black racist and white supremacist ideologies that impacted and continue to influence Canada and America today. These ideologies are not condoned by Archives at Whitby Public Library, but the Archives has preserved such records in the hopes that, by encountering them, people will begin to think critically about and challenge historical and current racism.
Date of Publication:
Date Of Event:
Width: 8 in
Height: 10 in
Personal Name(s):
Irwin, Flora
Local identifier:
Whitby Online Historic Photographs Collection
Creative Commons licence:
pd [more details]
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Recommended Citation:
Flora Irwin, c.1875, Nora, Whitby Archives, 34-000-020.
Reproduction Notes:
Scanned from print
Whitby Public Library
WWW address
Agency street/mail address

405 Dundas Street West, Whitby, Ontario L1N 6A1

For inquires about any newspaper content please contact askreference@whitbylibrary.ca

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Flora Irwin, c.1875

Photographic print of Flora Irwin dressed in a costume at a photographic studio.