Diorama of Fisk University Jubilee Singers

Diorama of Fisk University Jubilee Singers

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Description (Brief)

Diorama depicting the Fisk University Jubilee Singers, based on a painting by Edmund Havel, 1873. Made of wood and paper applied to plexiglass box with electrical low-voltage lights affixed to the side panels. Seven female figures and four male figures made of porcelain with cotton or synthetic lower torso. The diorama includes a grand piano and bench, two chairs, and a settee, all in miniature, made from painted wood and fabric. The women's clothing is made from silk taffeta and the men's clothing from wool. Made by Diedra Bell, Washington, D.C., assisted by Stephney Keyser, Falls Church, Virginia, 1994-1998.

From the nation’s beginning, Americans have grappled with who gets educated and who pays for education. Both public and private schools have relied on a combination of public and private funding. Disparities in wealth and political influence have affected Americans’ ability to support schools. As a result, educational philanthropy has reflected inequalities in the American economy and society. Giving through contributions of time and money have both created opportunities for students and increased inequalities among them.

Barred from schools for white children due to racist practices, African Americans in the late 1800s established and supported a wide variety of educational institutions of their own. In the 1870s the Fisk University Jubilee Singers began touring the United States and Europe to raise money for the African American school. Familiarizing white audiences with black spirituals, the group also advocated for African American rights and independence.

Object Name
Date made
1994 - 1998
Fisk University Jubilee Singers
Keyser, Stephney J.
visual artist
Havel, Edmund
Keyser, Stephney J.
place made
United States: Virginia, Falls Church
Physical Description
wood; plexiglass (case material)
porcelain; wool; silk (figures material)
overall: 26 cm x 49 cm x 32 cm; 10 1/4 in x 19 5/16 in x 12 5/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Diedra J. Bell and Dr. Stephney J. Keyser
African American History
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Education
Music & Musical Instruments
Cultures & Communities
Giving in America
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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