Little is known of this wooden and paper mache hand puppet created and used during the Civil War period. He has hand painted facial features, and he's wearing a simple blue cotton jacket, tan pants, a brown cap and a pair of brown suede shoes. One of a pair with 1979.1164.08.
It's possible this figure was part of a minstrel show that was staged on a showboat that traveled up and down the Mississippi River between 1850-1875. A common form of entertainment, the popular minstrel show is considered to be the first uniquely American form of entertainment, which featured white people parodying African Americans, during the second half of the nineteenth century. The show usually included music, songs, dance, comic repartees, and a closing skit. It was rare, however, that this popular amusement involved puppetry. These floating stages provided entertainment to many working class Americans in both urban and rural areas.