As we’ve learned in rehearsal, there’s a lot to tackle in Ragtime’s multi-part numbers. I thought it might be helpful to give you all some portraits of the various groups and sub-groups introduced in the Opening: incoming Immigrants from multiple countries, New Rochelle residents, Harlem and its residents (though I will admit that Harlem photography doesn’t really take off until the mid 1910s and then explodes in the run-up and flourish of the Harlem Renaissance).
Look for other posts that will include images and details about other character groups invoked throughout the play. If there are further specifics that folks in the chorus want that would be helpful to your building of scenarios and characters for yourself, just let me know.
On the “ragships”
Arriving at Ellis Island
Immigrants from the Caribbean
Immigrants from Italy
Jewish Immigrants (Eastern Europe)
Families like our “New Rochelle family”
And just to remind us that even New Rochelle wasn’t an homogenous enclave, here’s a image of an Italian family celebrating their new country in 1906 New Rochelle
Period portraits of African-Americans
FYI, there’s a fantastic slideshow from a 2011 issue of The Root magazine about Weeksville, a vibrant African-American community within Brooklyn now known as Bedford-Stuyvesant. Also a wonderful Flickr gallery titled “African-American Portraits” from Alvan S. Harper Collection (1884-1910) has images from right about the turn of the twentieth century.