The Philadelphia Mummers

Building Community Through Play

Patricia Anne Masters
Book Cover

PB: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-610-0
Publication: Jun 07

HC: $86.50
EAN: 978-1-59213-609-4
Publication: Jun 07

Ebook: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-611-7
Publication: Jun 07

256 pages
5.5 x 8.25
1 figs., 12 halftones, 1 maps

A vivid history of the nation's oldest folk parade


Every New Year's Day since 1901, the Philadelphia Mummers have presented a spectacular show of shows that raucously snakes and shimmies its way through city streets. The Mummers Parade features music, dance, comedy, and mime, along with dazzling costumes and floats. Although the lavish event is now televised to a wide audience, it is still rooted in the same neighborhoods where it began.

This book explores the community created and annually reaffirmed by the Philadelphia Mummers. The author spent more than five years with the Mummers, observing their lives and rituals as she took part in their preparations and parades. Writing with the fascination of a sociologist and the excitement of a participant, Masters examines the Mummers from their beginnings. Through the prism of their century-long history, we can see how communities retain their identities and how they are affected by larger cultural trends.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Maps iii
Acknowledgments iv
Introduction 1

Chapter 1. From Play to Play Community: The Early Years of the Mummers Parade 22
Chapter 2. Expanding the Play Community: The Contemporary Parade 60
Chapter 3. Blacks, Women, and the ANewA Immigrants: The Mummers and Diversity 96
Chapter 4. AGoing Up the Street@: The Experience of the Parade 138
Chapter 5. Rituals and the Play Community 166
Chapter 6. Family, Club, and Neighborhood 190
Chapter 7. The Experience of Play 245
Chapter 8. Play and Community: The Mummers Past and Future 283
Appendix 1. Research Methods and Materials: The Ethnographic Challenge 289
Notes 298
A Note on Sources and References 319

About the Author(s)

Patricia Anne Masters is Term Assistant Professor of Sociology and Director of the Undergraduate Program in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University.