Frederick Loudin's "Supplement" to J. B. T. Marsh's Story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers
Originally published in 1875, J. B, T. Marsh’s The Story of the Jubilee Singers: With Their Songs appeared in several editions into the early twentieth century. Along with transcriptions of lyrics and sheet music, early editions of this book featured an account of the history of Fisk University, the formation of the Singers under George White, brief biographical details of each group member, and their tours of North America, Britain, and Continental Europe from 1871 to 1878. While scholars are uncertain of Marsh’s personal relationship to the Singers, members of the group readily embraced this text. The Singers gifted copies to friends and sold quantities at each concert during their global tour and afterwards.
Upon their arrival in Melbourne, Australia in 1886, Frederick Loudin had 125,000 copies printed by a local publisher. In addition to detailing the history of the FJS, the importance of Spirituals, and the greatness of Fisk University, Loudin’s addresses during each concert’s intermission encouraged the audience to purchase copies. Loudin was so adept in attracting buyers that in June, 1886 the Melbourne Herald published a short article on the Singers’ successful “sale of the book containing the story of the organization.” Marsh’s text also met with much popularity during the two New Zealand tours. The New Zealand Referee reported in March, 1887 “our residents—from the aristocrat to the humble ‘working man’—have flocked to the Theatre Royal in large numbers, and paid their four, three and two shillings for admission willingly, and bought the book, giving the history of the Singers, at four shillings apiece, too!” During the FJS’s tours of North America and Britain near the end of the nineteenth century, Marsh’s book continued to enter the hands of audience members. Writing in 1898, Leota Henson reported with delight that following a performance in Llandudno, Wales, Basso W. K. Early “sold 40 books the first night.”
Along with the original pressings in 1875 and 1876, Revised Editions produced by several publishers in the United States and Britain appeared in 1877, 1880, 1881, 1892, 1898, and 1903. Earlier versions continuously provided updated information of the Singers’ management, travels, and performances. However, beginning with the 1892 edition Frederick Loudin became co-author of this text. His “Supplement” provided readers with an account of their global tour to Britain, Australia, New Zealand, India, Burma, and East Asia.
This page provides images of pages 134 to 154 of the 1892 edition of Loudin’s “Supplement” held in Fisk Special Collections. These pages of Loudin’s “Supplement” are one of the only published accounts of the Singers’ travels in Asia and the Antipodes.