This project tells the story of the rise of large-scale amateur blackface minstrel shows as a highly popular performance practice in the white middle-class communities of the urban North in late 19th and early 20th century America. Amateur blackface minstrelsy was so popular at the turn of the century that publishing companies were able to tap into a ready market of amateurs eager for instructional materials and other commodities geared to producing their own minstrel shows. These commodities included instructional manuals, comic materials gleaned from vaudeville and professional minstrelsy as well as a range of other commodities, including lithographed posters and post-cards for promoting a show, costumes, wigs and blackface make-up. Most research on blackface centers on professionally performed antebellum and postbellum blackface and its homosocial functions for its early audiences of male workers at the bottom of the labor pool. My project, however, considers blackface in its incarnation as a formalized performance practice and a favored form of racial play, especially for white middle-class men in the urban North. Using the instructional manuals as artifacts, I consider the class-based engagement of both individuals and social groups as they participated in the planning, production and performance of the shows. I am particularly interested in how amateur blackface worked to enact both individual and communal masculinities and how it worked to salve white anxieties about race, class status, self-making and the demands of modernity.