Academic Historian

Michelle Granshaw is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Pittsburgh. She is affiliate faculty with the Global Studies Center, the European Union Center of Excellence/European Studies Center, Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies Program, and Cultural Studies. At Pitt, she teaches in the BA, MFA, and PhD programs and mentors student dramaturgs. Granshaw was honored to receive the University of Pittsburgh’s 2021 Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Graduate Mentoring Award.

As a cultural historian, her research focuses on disenfranchised, and migrant communities and how they shaped and were influenced by the embodied and imaginative practices within theatre and performance. Her research interests include U.S. theatre, popular entertainment, and performance; performances of race, ethnicity, gender, and class; global and diasporic performance; and historiography.

Granshaw’s articles have appeared in Theatre Survey, Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, Popular Entertainment Studies, Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Theatre Topics, and the New England Theatre Journal. In 2014, Granshaw was awarded the American Theatre and Drama Society Vera Mowry Roberts Award for Research and Publication for her Theatre Survey (January 2014) article “The Mysterious Victory of the Newsboys: The Grand Duke Theatre’s 1874 Challenge to the Theatre Licensing Law.” Her book, Irish on the Move: Performing Mobility in American Variety Theatre (University of Iowa Press, 2019) argues that nineteenth-century American variety theatre formed a crucial battleground for anxieties about mobility, immigration, and ethnic community in the United States. It was named a finalist for the 2019 Theatre Library Association George Freedley Memorial Book Award and supported by grants and fellowships including the Hibernian Research Award from the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, American Theatre and Drama Society Faculty Travel Award, and Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship. “Inventing the Tramp: The Early Tramp Comic on the Variety Stage,” part of Irish on the Move’sfirst chapter, also won the 2018 Robert A. Schanke Theatre Research Award at the Mid-America Theatre Conference. Currently, she is working on a new monograph titled The Fight for Desegregation: Race, Freedom, and the Theatre After the Civil War. In November 2022, she received an American Society for Theatre Research Research Fellowship in support of the project.

Granshaw currently serves on the Executive Board for the American Theatre and Drama Society (term 2021-5) and co-organizes ATDS’s First Book Bootcamp and Career Conversations series.

Black Swan Records (1921-1923)

Black Swan Records was the first black-owned recording company that sold popular music to black audiences. Black Swan Records specialized in jazz and blues recordings, but it also became the first company to record black classical musicians. During its brief existence from 1921 and 1923, … Read MoreBlack Swan Records (1921-1923)

The Mills Brothers (1925-1982)

The Mills Brothers, a musical quartet, originally featured John Jr. (b. 1910), Herbert (b. 1912), Harry (b. 1913), and Donald Mills (b. 1915).  Born in Piqua, Ohio, the Mills Brothers lived with their father John Hutchinson Mills, a barber, and their mother, Eathel Harrington. As … Read MoreThe Mills Brothers (1925-1982)

Ink Spots (1932-1953)

The Ink Spots, a musical quartet, originally included members Orville “Hoppy” Jones, Ivory “Deek” Watson, Jerry Daniels, and Charlie Fuqua. Some accounts claim Slim Greene also was a founding member. Influenced by the Mills Brothers, all four members sang together under the name “King, Jack, … Read MoreInk Spots (1932-1953)

Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen (1911-1995)

Actress Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen was born in Tampa, Florida on January 8, 1911. Her father, Wallace McQueen, worked as a stevedore and her mother, Mary Richardson, was a housekeeper and domestic worker. After McQueen’s parents separated, her mother moved from job to job and McQueen … Read MoreThelma “Butterfly” McQueen (1911-1995)