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Burlesque Dancers of the Victorian Era

These early burlesque dancers were actresses in American musical theater, of which burlesque was a crowd-pleasing type. Burlesque shows became popular in England in the 1830s, with its popularity spreading to the United States about ten years later. American burlesque featured comedic sketches that included sexually suggestive dialogue and women in sexy costumes. This tradition, with the addition of striptease, continued in the U.S. until the 1930s, when legal crackdowns put a stop to it. 

Read this article for a history of burlesque. 

Images: Dr. Charles H. McCaghy Collection