The Women Behind the First Black Music Magazine

Graphics and Illustration designed for Musician and educator Amelia Tilghman

Musician and educator Amelia Tilghman founded The Musical Messenger in 1886. JONATHAN CONDA FOR ATLAS OBSCURA

In the late 19th century, “The Musical Messenger” had a message to send.

Today, as far as anyone knows, there are just two surviving issues of The Musical Messenger. It was and is a groundbreaking publication that ran from 1886 to 1891—and by all accounts the very first Black music magazine. All that stands between remembering and forgetting are just those two issues in the Library of Congress, one four pages, the other three. Whole movements, plans, and ideas rest on those seven pages from 1889. History isn’t a straight line, but it isn’t a stretch to link The Musical Messenger to any number of Black-owned and -run publications. Ebony. Freedomways. Vibe. Each is a link in a chain that was started by Amelia Tilghman, a musician and educator from Washington, D.C. Full story.

Ashawnta Jackson (Atlas Obscura) / March 28, 2022

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