Cover: drawing of an African American male lying on a river bank, fishing line between his toes, waiting for a catch; description reads a Mississippi Cat-Fish Nig; Publisher: Frank Tousey's Publishing House (New York)
Subject Headings (Library of Congress)
Songs -- United States -- 19th Century; Popular Music -- United States
Sheldon Harris Collection (MUM00682), Archives and Special Collections, University of Mississippi Libraries
Once a little yaller nigger sat a fishin' on a dock, A fishin' for de fishes down below, And he waited fo' an hour, but he nebber got a bite, De catchin' it wasmighty, mighty slow Den dis little yaller nigger got disgusted with his luck, As he felt a drowsy feeling o'er him creep, So he tied the line onto his foot to wake him up in time Den he curled himself up and he went to sleep.
Down on de banks ob de Mississipps Ribber, Down on de ribber shore, Dere is just anudder nigger gone to Hebben, dat's all, An' he'll nebber go a fishin' any more
bottom ob de ribber snoopin' round a bout de mud, Was a mornin' came, de neighbors walki' down de ribber shore, Found de daddy fish ob most de biggest size; Nebber thinkin' of little nigger fishin' up above Till he saw de bait before his very eyes Den he flipped his tail and fins, and gaily winked his other eye, And he said Dere is my dinner, sure as sin, Den he gave a little nibble, an' he swallow'd hook and all, And he pulled so hard he pulled de nigger in.
mornin' came, de neighbors walkin' down de ribber shore, Found de fish and found de little nigger too, Tangled up and both together in de Mississippi mud, How it happen'd no one ever really knew And a question's nebber answer'd in dat little darkey town, Tho' to solve it is each neighbor's earnest wish, The conundrum, if the fish had caught de little yaller nig, Or de little yaller had caught de fish
The derogatory terms, images, and ideas that appear in some of this sheet music are not condoned by the University of Mississippi. They do represent the attitudes of a number of Americans at the times the songs were published. As such, it is hoped that the sheet music in this collection can aid students of music, history, and other disciplines to better understand popular American music and racial stereotypes from the 19th- and early 20th-centuries.