Contents and Arrangement

A, 1914-1916

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Includes Ethel Schaefer Alcom, Grace Louise Anderson, C.A. Anderson, Otto and Joe Asweno, "The Great Alberto," and The Aerial Benos.


Arranged alphabetically by the name of the performer or act.

Note on Language

The term "female impersonator" appears throughout this finding aid to describe Vardaman and related entertainers who advertised their performances using this term during their lifetimes. Female and male impersonation was a genre of theatrical performance in which the entertainer performed a gender aside from the one they were assigned at birth, and was at the height of its popularity on vaudeville circuits in the United States from the turn of the century through the 1920s. While many performers active as female and male impersonators were likely part of what we would now refer to as LGBTQIA+ communities, others were straight and cisgender. While some performances in this genre challenged gender norms and had similiarities to drag culture, others perpetuated sexist, transphobic, homophobic, and racist stereotypes at a time when transgressive gender and sexuality practices were heavily policed in the United States.

Collection History


No material was separated from the collection during 2018 reprocessing.

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed and the finding aid written in 2002.

The collection was reprocessed and the finding aid was revised by Kelly Bolding in May-June 2018. During reprocessing, nitrate negatives were physically isolated from other photographic materials and are stored in off-site cold storage facilities.

The term "female impersonator" appears throughout this finding aid to describe Vardaman and related entertainers who advertised their performances using this term during their lifetimes. The collection description was updated by Kelly Bolding in 2021 to add additional contextual information about the usage of this term and its history.

Sources consulted during revisions made to this finding aid include:

Casey, Kathleen B. The Prettiest Girl On Stage Is a Man: Race and Gender Benders In American Vaudeville. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2015.

Kibler, M. Alison. Rank Ladies : Gender and Cultural Hierarchy in American Vaudeville. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

Ullman, Sharon R. "'The Twentieth Century Way': Female Impersonation and Sexual Practice in Turn-of-the-Century America." Journal of the History of Sexuality 5, no. 4 (1995): 573-600.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

A; Vardaman Collection, TC089, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (rcpxm): Box 3