Freda Josephine McDonald
3 June 1906
|Died||12 April 1975 (aged 68)|
|Resting place||Monaco Cemetery|
|Occupation||Vedette, singer, dancer, actress, civil rights activist, French Resistance agent|
(m. 1919; div. 1919)
(m. 1921; div. 1925)
(m. 1937; div. 1940)
(m. 1947; div. 1961)
|Partner(s)||Robert Brady (1973–1975)|
|Children||12 (adopted), including Jean-Claude Baker|
Josephine Baker (born Freda Josephine McDonald, naturalised French Joséphine Baker; 3 June 1906 – 12 April 1975) was an American-born French entertainer, French Resistance agent, and civil rights activist. Her career was centered primarily in Europe, mostly in her adopted France. She was the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren of the Tropics, directed by Mario Nalpas and Henri Étiévant.
During her early career, was among the most celebrated performers to headline the revues of the Folies Bergère in Paris. Her performance in the revue Un vent de folie in 1927 caused a sensation in the city. Her costume, consisting of only a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became an iconic image and a symbol both of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties.
Baker was celebrated by artists and intellectuals of the era, who variously dubbed her the "Black Venus", the "Black Pearl", the "Bronze Venus", and the "Creole Goddess". Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she renounced her U.S. citizenship and became a French national after her marriage to French industrialist Jean Lion in 1937. She raised her children in France.
She aided the French Resistance during World War II. After the war, she was awarded the Resistance Medal by the French Committee of National Liberation, the Croix de guerre by the French military, and was named a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. Baker sang: "I have two loves, my country and Paris."
Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and is noted for her contributions to the civil rights movement. In 1968, she was offered unofficial leadership in the movement in the United States by Coretta Scott King, following Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. After thinking it over, Baker declined the offer out of concern for the welfare of her children.[third-party source needed] On 23 August 2021, it was announced that in November 2021 she will be interred in the Panthéon in Paris, the first black woman to receive one of the highest honors in France.
Freda Josephine McDonald was born on June 3, 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother, Carrie, was adopted in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1886 by Richard and Elvira McDonald, both of whom were former slaves of African and Native American descent. Baker's estate and some other sources identify vaudeville drummer Eddie Carson as her natural father, whilst other sources dispute this. Baker's foster son Jean-Claude Baker wrote a biography, published in 1993, titled Josephine: The Hungry Heart, in which he discusses at length the circumstances surrounding Baker's birth based on his research, concluding that Freda's father was white, and that Freda knew that Carson was not her father. Academic Bennetta Jules-Rosette, author of Josephine Baker in art and life : the icon and the image (2007) wrote about the difficulty of establishing the truth of Baker's early life, given "the factual and counterfactual reworkings of her numerous biographers" and Baker's own "numerous and often contradictory reorkings of the story, which frequently lacked coherence."
Josephine McDonald spent her early life at 212 Targee Street (known by some St. Louis residents as Johnson Street) in the Mill Creek Valley neighborhood of St. Louis, a racially mixed low-income neighborhood near Union Station, consisting mainly of rooming houses, brothels, and apartments without indoor plumbing. She was poorly dressed and hungry as a child, and developed street smarts playing in the railroad yards of Union Station.
Her mother married Arthur Martin, "a kind but perpetually unemployed man", with whom she had a son and two more daughters. She took in laundry to wash to make ends meet, and at eight years old, Josephine began working as a live-in domestic for white families in St. Louis. One woman abused her, burning Josephine's hands when the young girl put too much soap in the laundry.
In 1917, when she was 11, a terrified Josephine McDonald witnessed racial violence in East St. Louis, Illinois. In a speech years later, she recalled what she had seen:
"I can still see myself standing on the west bank of the Mississippi looking over into East St. Louis and watching the glow of the burning of Negro homes lighting the sky. We children stood huddled together in bewilderment . . . frightened to death with the screams of the Negro families running across this bridge with nothing but what they had on their backs as their worldly belongings... So with this vision I ran and ran and ran..."
By age 12, she had dropped out of school. At 13, she worked as a waitress at the Old Chauffeur's Club at 3133 Pine Street. She also lived as a street child in the slums of St. Louis, sleeping in cardboard shelters, scavenging for food in garbage cans, making a living with street-corner dancing. It was at the Old Chauffeur's Club where Josephine met Willie Wells, and subsequently married him at age 13; however, the marriage lasted less than a year. Following her divorce from Wells, she found work with a street performance group called the Jones Family Band.
In her teen years she struggled to have a healthy relationship with her mother, who did not want her to become an entertainer and scolded her for not tending to her second husband, William Howard Baker, whom she married in 1921 at the age of 15. She left him when her vaudeville troupe was booked into a New York City venue, and divorced in 1925; it was during this time she began to see significant career success, and she continued to use his last name professionally for the rest of her life. Though Baker traveled, she would return with gifts and money for her mother and younger half-sister, but the turmoil with her mother pushed her to make a trip to France.
Baker's consistent badgering of a show manager in her hometown led to her being recruited for the St. Louis Chorus vaudeville show. At the age of 13, she headed to New York City during the Harlem Renaissance, performing at the Plantation Club, Florence Mills' old stomping ground, and in the chorus lines of the groundbreaking and hugely successful Broadway revues Shuffle Along (1921) with Adelaide Hall and The Chocolate Dandies (1924).
Baker performed as the last dancer on the end of the chorus line, where her act was to perform in a comic manner, as if she were unable to remember the dance, until the encore, at which point she would perform it not only correctly but with additional complexity. A term of the time describes this part of the cast as "The Pony". Baker was billed at the time as "the highest-paid chorus girl in vaudeville."
Her career began with blackface comedy at local clubs; this was the entertainment of which her mother had disapproved; however, these performances landed Baker an opportunity to tour in Paris, which would become the place she called home until her final days.
Paris and rise to fame
In a 1974 interview with The Guardian, Baker explained that she obtained her first big break in the bustling city. "No, I didn't get my first break on Broadway. I was only in the chorus in 'Shuffle Along' and 'Chocolate Dandies'. I became famous first in France in the twenties. I just couldn't stand America and I was one of the first colored Americans to move to Paris. Oh yes, Bricktop was there as well. Me and her were the only two, and we had a marvellous time. Of course, everyone who was anyone knew Bricky. And they got to know Miss Baker as well."
In Paris, she became an instant success for her erotic dancing, and for appearing practically nude onstage. After a successful tour of Europe, she broke her contract and returned to France in 1926 to star at the Folies Bergère, setting the standard for her future acts.
Baker performed the "Danse Sauvage" wearing a costume consisting of a skirt made of a string of artificial bananas. Her success coincided (1925) with the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs, which gave birth to the term "Art Deco", and also with a renewal of interest in non-Western forms of art, including African. Baker represented one aspect of this fashion. In later shows in Paris, she was often accompanied on stage by her pet cheetah "Chiquita," who was adorned with a diamond collar. The cheetah frequently escaped into the orchestra pit, where it terrorized the musicians, adding another element of excitement to the show.
After a while, Baker was the most successful American entertainer working in France. Ernest Hemingway called her "the most sensational woman anyone ever saw." The author spent hours talking with her in Paris bars. Picasso drew paintings depicting her alluring beauty. Jean Cocteau became friendly with her and helped vault her to international stardom. Baker endorsed a "Bakerfix" hair gel, bananas, shoes, and cosmetics amongst other products.
In 1929, Baker became the first African-American star to visit Yugoslavia, while on tour in Central Europe via the Orient Express. In Belgrade, she performed at Luxor Balkanska, the most luxurious venue in the city at the time. She included Pirot kilim into her routine, as a nod to the local culture, and she donated some of the show's proceeds to poor children of Serbia. In Zagreb, she was received by adoring fans at the train station. However, some of her shows were cancelled, due to opposition from the local clergy and morality police.
During her travels in Yugoslavia, Baker was accompanied by "Count" Giuseppe Pepito Abatino. At the start of her career in France, Baker had Abatino, a Sicilian former stonemason who passed himself off as a count, and who persuaded her to let him manage her. Abatino was not only Baker's management, but her lover as well. The two could not marry because Baker was still married to her second husband, Willie Baker.
During this period, she released her most successful song, "J'ai deux amours" (1931). The song espresses the sentiment that "I have two loves, my country and Paris." In a 2007 book, Tim Bergfelder, Sue Harris and Sarah Street claimed that "by the 1930's, Baker's assimilation into French popular culture had been completed by her association with the song". Baker starred in three films which found success only in Europe: the silent film Siren of the Tropics (1927), Zouzou (1934) and Princesse Tam Tam (1935). She starred in Fausse Alerte in 1940. Bergfelder, Harris and Street wrote that the silent film Siren of the Tropics "rehearses the 'primitive-to-Parisienne' narrative that would become the staple of Baker's cinema career, and exploited in particular her comic stage persona based on loose-limbed athleticism and artful clumsiness." The sound films Zouzou (1934) and Princesse Tam Tam were both Star vehicles for Baker.
Under the management of Abatino, Baker's stage and public persona, as well as her singing voice, were transformed. In 1934, she took the lead in a revival of Jacques Offenbach's opera La créole, which premiered in December of that year for a six-month run at the Théâtre Marigny on the Champs-Élysées of Paris. In preparation for her performances, she went through months of training with a vocal coach. In the words of Shirley Bassey, who has cited Baker as her primary influence, "... she went from a 'petite danseuse sauvage' with a decent voice to 'la grande diva magnifique' ... I swear in all my life I have never seen, and probably never shall see again, such a spectacular singer and performer."
Despite her popularity in France, Baker never attained the equivalent reputation in America. Her star turn in a 1936 revival of Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway was not commercially successful, and later in the run she was replaced by Gypsy Rose Lee. Time magazine referred to her as a "Negro wench ... whose dancing and singing might be topped anywhere outside of Paris", while other critics said her voice was "too thin" and "dwarf-like" to fill the Winter Garden Theatre. She returned to Europe heartbroken. This contributed to Baker's becoming a legal citizen of France and giving up her American citizenship.
Baker returned to Paris in 1937, married the French industrialist Jean Lion, and became a French citizen. They were married in the French town of Crèvecœur-le-Grand, in a wedding presided over by the mayor, Jammy Schmidt.
Work during World War II
In September 1939, when France declared war on Germany in response to the invasion of Poland, Baker was recruited by the Deuxième Bureau, the French military intelligence agency, as an "honorable correspondent". Baker collected what information she could about German troop locations from officials she met at parties. She socialised at gatherings at locations such as embassies and ministries, charming people while secretly gathering information. Her café-society fame enabled her to rub shoulders with those in the know, from high-ranking Japanese officials to Italian bureaucrats, and to report back what she heard. She attended parties and gathered information at the Italian embassy without raising suspicion.: 182–269
When the Germans invaded France, Baker left Paris and went to the Château des Milandes, her home in the Dordogne département in the south of France. She housed people who were eager to help the Free French effort led by Charles de Gaulle and supplied them with visas. As an entertainer, Baker had an excuse for moving around Europe, visiting neutral nations such as Portugal, as well as some in South America. She carried information for transmission to England, about airfields, harbors, and German troop concentrations in the West of France. Notes were written in invisible ink on Baker's sheet music.: 232–269 As written in Jazz Age Cleopatra, "She specialized in gatherings at embassies and ministries, charming people as she had always done, but at the same time trying to remember interesting items to transmit."
Later in 1941, she and her entourage went to the French colonies in North Africa. The stated reason was Baker's health (since she was recovering from another case of pneumonia) but the real reason was to continue helping the Resistance. From a base in Morocco, she made tours of Spain. She pinned notes with the information she gathered inside her underwear (counting on her celebrity to avoid a strip search). She met the Pasha of Marrakech, whose support helped her through a miscarriage (the last of several). After the miscarriage, she developed an infection so severe it required a hysterectomy. The infection spread and she developed peritonitis and then sepsis. After her recovery (which she continued to fall in and out of), she started touring to entertain British, French, and American soldiers in North Africa. The Free French had no organized entertainment network for their troops, so Baker and her entourage managed for the most part on their own. They allowed no civilians and charged no admission.
In 1949, a reinvented Baker returned in triumph to the Folies Bergère. Bolstered by recognition of her wartime heroism, Baker the performer assumed a new gravitas, unafraid to take on serious music or subject matter. The engagement was a rousing success and reestablished Baker as one of Paris' pre-eminent entertainers. In 1951 Baker was invited back to the United States for a nightclub engagement in Miami. After winning a public battle over desegregating the club's audience, Baker followed up her sold-out run at the club with a national tour. Rave reviews and enthusiastic audiences accompanied her everywhere, climaxed by a parade in front of 100,000 people in Harlem in honor of her new title: NAACP's "Woman of the Year".
In 1952 Baker was hired to crown the Queen of the Cavalcade of Jazz for the famed eighth Cavalcade of Jazz concert held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles which was produced by Leon Hefflin, Sr. on 1 June. Also featured to perform that day were Roy Brown and His Mighty Men, Anna Mae Winburn and Her Sweethearts, Toni Harper, Louis Jordan, Jimmy Witherspoon and Jerry Wallace.
An incident at the Stork Club in October 1951 interrupted and overturned her plans. Baker criticized the club's unwritten policy of discouraging Black patrons, then scolded columnist Walter Winchell, an old ally, for not rising to her defense. Winchell responded swiftly with a series of harsh public rebukes, including accusations of Communist sympathies (a serious charge at the time). The ensuing publicity resulted in the termination of Baker's work visa, forcing her to cancel all her engagements and return to France. It was almost a decade before U.S. officials allowed her back into the country.
In January 1966, Fidel Castro invited Baker to perform at the Teatro Musical de La Habana in Havana, Cuba, at the seventh-anniversary celebrations of his revolution. Her spectacular show in April broke attendance records. In 1968, Baker visited Yugoslavia and made appearances in Belgrade and in Skopje. In her later career, Baker faced financial troubles. She commented, "Nobody wants me, they've forgotten me"; but family members encouraged her to continue performing. In 1973 she performed at Carnegie Hall to a standing ovation.
The following year, she appeared in a Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium, and then at the Monegasque Red Cross Gala, celebrating her 50 years in French show business. Advancing years and exhaustion began to take their toll; she sometimes had trouble remembering lyrics, and her speeches between songs tended to ramble. She still continued to captivate audiences of all ages.
Civil rights activism
Although based in France, Baker supported the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s. When she arrived in New York with her husband Jo, they were refused reservations at 36 hotels because of racial discrimination. She was so upset by this treatment that she wrote articles about the segregation in the United States. She also began traveling into the South. She gave a talk at Fisk University, a historically black college in Nashville, Tennessee, on "France, North Africa and the Equality of the Races in France."
She refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States, although she was offered $10,000 by a Miami club. (The club eventually met her demands). Her insistence on mixed audiences helped to integrate live entertainment shows in Las Vegas, Nevada. After this incident, she began receiving threatening phone calls from people claiming to be from the Ku Klux Klan but said publicly that she was not afraid of them.
In 1951, Baker made charges of racism against Sherman Billingsley's Stork Club in Manhattan, where she had been refused service. Actress Grace Kelly, who was at the club at the time, rushed over to Baker, took her by the arm and stormed out with her entire party, vowing never to return (although she returned on 3 January 1956 with Prince Rainier of Monaco). The two women became close friends after the incident.
When Baker was near bankruptcy, Kelly—by then the princess consort—offered her a villa and financial assistance. (During his work on the Stork Club book, author and New York Times reporter Ralph Blumenthal was contacted by Jean-Claude Baker, one of Baker's sons. He indicated that he had read his mother's FBI file and, using comparison of the file to the tapes, said he thought the Stork Club incident was overblown.)
Baker also worked with the NAACP. Her reputation as a crusader grew to such an extent that the NAACP had Sunday, 20 May 1951 declared "Josephine Baker Day." She was presented with life membership with the NAACP by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Ralph Bunche. The honor she was paid spurred her to further her crusading efforts with the "Save Willie McGee" rally. McGee was a Black man in Mississippi convicted of raping a white woman in 1945 on the basis of dubious evidence, and sentenced to death. Baker attended rallies for McGee and wrote letters to Fielding Wright, the governor of Mississippi, asking him to spare McGee's life. Despite her efforts, McGee was executed in 1951. As the decorated war hero who was bolstered by the racial equality she experienced in Europe, Baker became increasingly regarded as controversial; some Black people even began to shun her, fearing that her outspokenness and racy reputation from her earlier years would hurt the cause.
In 1963, she spoke at the March on Washington at the side of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Baker was the only official female speaker. While wearing her Free French uniform emblazoned with her medal of the Légion d'honneur, she introduced the "Negro Women for Civil Rights." Rosa Parks and Daisy Bates were among those she acknowledged, and both gave brief speeches. Not everyone involved wanted Baker present at the March; some thought her time overseas had made her a woman of France, one who was disconnected from the Civil Rights issues going on in America. In her speech, one of the things Baker said:
I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. And much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad. And when I get mad, you know that I open my big mouth. And then look out, 'cause when Josephine opens her mouth, they hear it all over the world ...
After King's assassination, his widow Coretta Scott King approached Baker in the Netherlands to ask if she would take her husband's place as leader of the Civil Rights Movement. After many days of thinking it over, Baker declined, saying her children were "too young to lose their mother."[third-party source needed]
Her first marriage was to American Pullman porter Willie Wells when she was only 13 years old. The marriage was reportedly very unhappy and the couple divorced a short time later. Another short-lived marriage followed to Willie Baker in 1921; she retained Baker's last name because her career began taking off during that time, and it was the name by which she became best known. While she had four marriages to men, Jean-Claude Baker writes that Josephine was bisexual and had several relationships with women.
During her time in the Harlem Renaissance arts community, one of her relationships was with Blues singer Clara Smith. In 1925, she began an extramarital relationship with the Belgian novelist Georges Simenon. In 1937, Baker married Frenchman Jean Lion. She and Lion separated in 1940. She married French composer and conductor Jo Bouillon in 1947, and their union also ended in divorce but lasted 14 years. She was later involved for a time with the artist Robert Brady, but they never married. Baker was also involved in sexual liaisons, if not relationships, with Ada "Bricktop" Smith, French novelist Colette, and possibly Frida Kahlo.
During Baker's work with the Civil Rights Movement, she began adopting children, forming a family she often referred to as "The Rainbow Tribe." Baker wanted to prove that "children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers." She often took the children with her cross-country, and when they were at Château des Milandes, she arranged tours so visitors could walk the grounds and see how natural and happy the children in "The Rainbow Tribe" were. Her estate featured hotels, a farm, rides, and the children singing and dancing for the audience. She charged admission for visitors to enter and partake in the activities, which included watching the children play. She created dramatic backstories for them, picking them with clear intent in mind: at one point she wanted and planned to get a Jewish baby, but settled for a French one instead. She also raised them with different religions to further her model for the world, taking two children from Algeria and raising one Muslim and the other Catholic. One member of the Tribe, Jean-Claude Baker, said: "She wanted a doll."
Baker raised two daughters, French-born Marianne and Moroccan-born Stellina, and 10 sons, Korean-born Jeannot (or Janot), Japanese-born Akio, Colombian-born Luis, Finnish-born Jari (now Jarry), French-born Jean-Claude, Noël and Moïse, Algerian-born Brahim, Ivorian-born Koffi, and Venezuelan-born Mara. For some time, Baker lived with her children and an enormous staff in the château in Dordogne, France, with her fourth husband, Jo Bouillon. Bouillon claimed that Baker bore one child herself, stillborn in 1941, an incident that precipitated an emergency hysterectomy.
Later years and death
Baker was back on stage at the Olympia in Paris in 1968, in Belgrade and at Carnegie Hall in 1973, and at the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium and at the Gala du Cirque in Paris in 1974. On 8 April 1975, Baker starred in a retrospective revue at the Bobino in Paris, Joséphine à Bobino 1975, celebrating her 50 years in show business. The revue, financed by Prince Rainier, Princess Grace, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, opened to rave reviews. Demand for seating was such that fold-out chairs had to be added to accommodate spectators. The opening-night audience included Sophia Loren, Mick Jagger, Shirley Bassey, Diana Ross, and Liza Minnelli.
Four days later, Baker was found lying peacefully in her bed surrounded by newspapers with glowing reviews of her performance. She was in a coma after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. She was taken to Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, where she died, aged 68, on 12 April 1975.
She received a full Catholic funeral that was held at L'Église de la Madeleine, attracting more than 20,000 mourners. The only American-born woman to receive full French military honors at her funeral, Baker's funeral was the occasion of a huge procession. After a family service at Saint-Charles Church in Monte Carlo, Baker was interred at Monaco's Cimetière de Monaco.
Place Joséphine Baker (Montparnasse Quarter of Paris was named in her honor. She has also been inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and on 29 March 1995, into the Hall of Famous Missourians. St. Louis's Channing Avenue was renamed Josephine Baker Boulevard and a wax sculpture of Baker is on permanent display at The Griot Museum of Black History.) in the
Writing in the on-line BBC magazine in late 2014, Darren Royston, historical dance teacher at RADA credited Baker with being the Beyoncé of her day, and bringing the Charleston to Britain. Two of Baker's sons, Jean-Claude and Jarry (Jari), grew up to go into business together, running the restaurant Chez Josephine on Theatre Row, 42nd Street, New York City. It celebrates Baker's life and works.
Château des Milandes, a castle near Sarlat in the Dordogne, was Baker's home where she raised her twelve children. It is open to the public and displays her stage outfits including her banana skirt (of which there are apparently several). It also displays many family photographs and documents as well as her Legion of Honour medal. Most rooms are open for the public to walk through including bedrooms with the cots where her children slept, a huge kitchen, and a dining room where she often entertained large groups. The bathrooms were designed in art deco style but most rooms retained the French chateau style.
Baker continued to influence celebrities more than a century after her birth. In a 2003 interview with USA Today, Angelina Jolie cited Baker as "a model for the multiracial, multinational family she was beginning to create through adoption." Beyoncé performed Baker's banana dance at the Fashion Rocks concert at Radio City Music Hall in September 2006.
Writing on the 110th anniversary of her birth, Vogue described how her 1926 "danse sauvage" in her famous banana skirt "brilliantly manipulated the white male imagination" and "radically redefined notions of race and gender through style and performance in a way that continues to echo throughout fashion and music today, from Prada to Beyoncé."
On Thursday 22 November 2018, a documentary titled Josephine Baker: The Story of an Awakening, directed by Ilana Navaro, premiered at the Beirut Art Film Festival. It contains rarely seen archival footage, including some never before discovered, with music and narration.
In August 2019, Baker was one of the honorees inducted in the Rainbow Honor Walk, a walk of fame in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood noting LGBTQ people who have "made significant contributions in their fields."
In May 2021, an online petition was setup by writer Laurent Kupferman asking that Joséphine Baker be honoured by re-burying her at the Panthéon in Paris, or being granted Panthéon honours. This would make her the only sixth woman at the mausoleum, alongside Simone Veil, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Marie Curie, Germaine Tillion and Sophie Berthelot. In August 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron agreed for Baker's remains to enter the Panthéon in November of the same year, following the 2021 petition and continued requests from Baker's family since 2013. Her son Jean-Claude, however, told AFP that her body will remain in Monaco and only a plaque will be installed at the Panthéon.
Works portraying or inspired by Baker
This section needs additional citations for verification. (September 2021)
Film and television
- Diana Ross portrayed Baker in both her Tony Award-winning Broadway and television show An Evening with Diana Ross. When the show was made into an NBC television special entitled The Big Event: An Evening with Diana Ross, Ross again portrayed Baker.
- In 1991, Baker's life story, The Josephine Baker Story, was broadcast on HBO. Lynn Whitfield portrayed Baker, and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special – becoming the first Black actress to win the award in this category.
- A German submariner mimics Baker's Danse banane in the 1981 film Das Boot.
- In the 1997 animated musical film Anastasia, Baker appears with her cheetah during the musical number "Paris Holds the Key (to Your Heart)".[better source needed]
- In 2002, Baker was portrayed by Karine Plantadit in the biopic Frida.
- A character based on Baker (topless, wearing the famous "banana skirt") appears in the opening sequence of the 2003 animated film The Triplets of Belleville (Les Triplettes de Belleville).
- Her influence upon and assistance with the careers of husband and wife dancers Carmen De Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder are discussed and illustrated in rare footage in the 2005 Linda Atkinson/Nick Doob documentary, Carmen and Geoffrey.
- In 2011, Sonia Rolland portrayed Baker in the film Midnight in Paris.
- In February 2017, Tiffany Daniels portrayed Baker in the Timeless television episode "The Lost Generation".
- Baker is portrayed by actress Carra Patterson in the seventh episode, entitled "I Am.", of HBO’s television series Lovecraft Country.
- In 1986, Helen Gelzer portrayed Baker on the London stage for a limited run in the musical Josephine – "a musical version of the life and times of Josephine Baker" with book, lyrics and music by Michael Wild. The show was produced by Baker's longtime friend Jack Hockett in conjunction with Premier Box-Office, and the musical director was Paul Maguire. Gelzer also recorded a studio cast album titled Josephine.
- In 2006, Jérôme Savary produced a musical, A La Recherche de Josephine – New Orleans for Ever (Looking for Josephine), starring Nicolle Rochelle. The story revolved around the history of jazz and Baker's career.
- In 2006, Deborah Cox starred in the musical Josephine at Florida's Asolo Theatre, directed and choreographed by Joey McKneely, with a book by Ellen Weston and Mark Hampton, music by Steve Dorff and lyrics by John Bettis.
- In July 2012, Cheryl Howard opened in The Sensational Josephine Baker, written and performed by Howard and directed by Ian Streicher at the Beckett Theatre of Theatre Row on 42nd Street in New York City, just a few doors away from Chez Josephine.
- In July 2013, Cush Jumbo's debut play Josephine and I premiered at the Bush Theatre, London. It was re-produced in New York City at The Public Theater's Joe's Pub from 27 February to 5 April 2015.
- In June 2016, Josephine, a burlesque cabaret dream play starring Tymisha Harris as Josephine Baker premiered at the 2016 San Diego Fringe Festival. The show has since played across North America and had a limited off-Broadway run in January–February 2018 at SoHo Playhouse in New York City.
- In late February 2017, a new play about Baker's later years, The Last Night of Josephine Baker by playwright Vincent Victoria, opened in Houston, Texas, starring Erica Young as "Past Josephine" and Jasmin Roland as "Present Josephine".
- Actress DeQuina Moore portrayed Baker in a biographic musical titled "Josephine Tonight" at The Ensemble Theatre in Houston, Texas, from 27 June– 28 July 2019.
Baker appears in her role as a member of the French Resistance in Johannes Mario Simmel's 1960 novel, Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein (C'est pas toujours du caviar). The 2004 erotic novel Scandalous by British author Angela Campion uses Baker as its heroine and is inspired by Baker's sexual exploits and later adventures in the French Resistance. In the novel, Baker, working with a fictional Black Canadian lover named Drummer Thompson, foils a plot by French fascists in 1936 Paris. Baker was heavily featured in the 2012 book Josephine's Incredible Shoe & The Blackpearls by Peggi Eve Anderson-Randolph.
- The Italian-Belgian francophone singer composer Salvatore Adamo pays tribute to Baker with the song "Noël Sur Les Milandes" (album Petit Bonheur – EMI 1970).
- The British band 'Sailor' paid tribute on their 1974 self-titled debut album 'Sailor' with the Georg Kajanus song 'Josephine Baker' who "...stunned the world at the Folies Bergere..."
- British singer-songwriter, Al Stewart wrote song about Josephine Baker. It appears in album "Last days of the century" from 1988.
- Beyoncé Knowles has portrayed Baker on various occasions. During the 2006 Fashion Rocks show, Knowles performed "Dejá Vu" in a revised version of the Danse banane costume. In Knowles's video for "Naughty Girl", she is seen dancing in a huge champagne glass à la Baker. In I Am ... Yours: An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas, Beyonce lists Baker as an influence of a section of her live show.
- In 2010, Keri Hilson portrayed Baker in her single "Pretty Girl Rock".
In 1927, Alexander Calder created Josephine Baker (III), a wire sculpture of Baker, which is now displayed at the Museum of Modern Art. Henri Matisse created a mural-sized cut paper artwork titled La Négresse (1952–1953), possibly inspired by Baker. Hassan Musa depicted Baker in a 1994 series of paintings called Who needs Bananas?
|1927||La Sirène des Tropiques (Siren of the Tropics)||Papitou||silent film||: 68|
|1927||Die Frauen von Folies Bergères (The Woman from the Folies Bergères)||silent film|||
|1927||La revue des revues (Parisian Pleasures)||herself|||
|1928||Le pompier des Folies Bergères||unnamed||erotic short||: 6|
|1935||Princesse Tam Tam||Aouina|||
|1945||Fausse alerte (The French Way)||Zazu Clairon|||
|1954||An jedem Finger zehn (Ten on every finger)|||
|1955||Carosello del varietà (Carousel of Variety)|||
- Joséphine Baker. Black Diva in a White Mans World. Film by Annette von Wangenheim, about Baker's life and work from a perspective that analyses images of Black people in popular culture, WDR/3sat, 2006
- Atwood, Kathryn (2011). Women Heroes of World War II. Chicago Review Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-55652-961-0.
- Kelleher, Katy (26 March 2010). "She'll Always Have Paris". Jezebel. Archived from the original on 18 October 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- Bostock, William W. (2002). "Collective Mental State and Individual Agency: Qualitative Factors in Social Science Explanation". Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung. 3 (3). ISSN 1438-5627. Archived from the original on 24 August 2021. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
- Roberts, Kimberly (8 April 2011). "Remembering Josephine Baker". Philadelphia Tribune.
- "Josephine Baker: The life of an artist and activist". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 3 June 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
- Baker, Jean-Claude (1993). Josephine: The Hungry Heart (First ed.). Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-40915-1.
- Bouillon, Joe (1977). Josephine (First ed.). Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-010212-8.
- "Josephine Baker to Become First Black Woman to Enter France's Pantheon". The Hollywood Reporter. 23 August 2021. Archived from the original on 23 August 2021. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
- "Josephine Baker (Freda McDonald) Native of St. Louis, Missouri". Black Missouri. 10 February 2008. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
- "About Art Deco – Josephine Baker". Victoria and Albert Museum. 29 July 2015. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
- "About Josephine Baker: Biography". Official site of Josephine Baker. 2008. Archived from the original on 9 November 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
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- Wood, Ian (2000). The Josephine Baker Story. United Kingdom: MPG Books. pp. 241–318. ISBN 978-1-86074-286-6.
- 1920 United States Federal Census
- Whitaker, Matthew C. (2011). Icons of Black America: Breaking Barriers and Crossing Boundaries. p. 64.
- "The Rise and Fall of Josephine Baker". Dollars & Sense. 13. 1987.
- Keyes, Allison. "The East St. Louis Race Riot Left Dozens Dead, Devastating a Community on the Rise". Smithsonian Magazine. Archived from the original on 29 August 2021. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
- "Racial memory: Clear as black and white". St. Louis Public Radio. 27 June 2008. Archived from the original on 29 August 2021. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
- Matthews, Dasha (26 February 2018). "The Activism of Josephine Baker". UMKC Women's Center. Archived from the original on 3 October 2020. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
- Appel, Jacob M. (2 May 2009). St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture.
- Webb, Shawncey (2016). "Josephine Baker". Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia – via Research Starters, EBSCOhost.
- Ralling, Christopher (1987). Chasing a Rainbow: The Life of Josephine Baker.
- Kirchner, Bill, ed. (2000). The Oxford Companion to Jazz. Oxford University Press. p. 700. ISBN 978-0-19-512510-8.
- Williams, Iain Cameron. Underneath a Harlem Moon ... The Harlem to Paris Years of Adelaide Hall, Continuum Int. Publishing (2003); ISBN 978-0-8264-5893-3:
- Broughton, Sarah (2009). Josephine Baker: The First Black Superstar.
- "About Josephine Baker: Biography". Official Josephine Baker website. The Josephine Baker Estate. 2008. Archived from the original on 9 November 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
- "Le Jazz-Hot: The Roaring Twenties", in William Alfred Shack's Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story Between the Great Wars, University of California Press, 2001, p. 35.[ISBN missing]
- "From the archive, 26 August 1974: An interview with Josephine Baker". The Guardian. 26 August 2015. Archived from the original on 3 August 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- ""Quotes": the official Josephine Baker website". Cmgww.com. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- Lahs-Gonzales, Olivia.Josephine Baker: Image & Icon (excerpt in Jazz Book Review, 2006). Archived 25 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- "From the archive, 26 August 1974: An interview with Josephine Baker". The Guardian. 26 August 2015. Archived from the original on 3 August 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
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- McCann, Bob (2009). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and television. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7864-5804-2. Archived from the original on 21 April 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
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- "Josephine Baker: The First Black Super Star". Allblackwoman.com. 4 June 2012. Archived from the original on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Schroeder, Alan and Heather Lehr Wagner (2006). Josephine Baker: Entertainer. Chelsea House Publications. pp. 51–52. ISBN 978-0-7910-9212-5. Archived from the original on 24 August 2021. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
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- Susan Robinson (3 June 1906). "Josephine Baker". Gibbs Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- Rose, Phyllis (1989). Jazz Cleopatra: Josephine Baker in her time. United States: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-24891-4.
- "Female Spies in World War I and World War II". About.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
- Ann Shaffer (4 October 2006). "Review of Josephine Baker: A Centenary Tribute". blackgrooves. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2009.
- Joyce, Dr Robin (5 March 2017). "Josephine Baker, 1906–1975". Women's History Network. Archived from the original on 26 September 2020. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
- "Josephine Baker hero | Heroes: What They Do & Why We Need Them". University of Richmond. 25 May 2014. Archived from the original on 8 February 2018. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
- Reed, Tom (1992). The Black music history of Los Angeles, its roots: 50 years in Black music: a classical pictorial history of Los Angeles Black music of the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's : photographic essays that define the people, the artistry and their contributions to the wonderful world of entertainment (1st, limited ed.). Los Angeles: Black Accent on L.A. Press. ISBN 978-0-9632908-6-1. OCLC 28801394.
- "Josephine Baker to Crown Queen" Headliner Los Angeles Sentinel 22 May 1952.
- Hinckley, David (9 November 2004). "Firestorm Incident at the Stork Club, 1951". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
- "Stork Club Refused to Serve Her, Josephine Baker Claims". Milwaukee Journal. 19 October 1951. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
- Spoto, Donald (2009). High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly. New York: Harmony Books. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-307-46251-0. OCLC 496121174. Archived from the original on 24 August 2021. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
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- Rustin, Bayard (28 February 2006). "Profiles in Courage for Black History Month". National Black Justice Coalition. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2009.
- "Civil Rights March on Washington". Infoplease.com. 28 August 1963. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- Baker, Josephine; Bouillon, Joe (1977). Josephine (First ed.). New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-010212-8.
- "March on Washington had one female speaker: Josephine Baker". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 19 September 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- "(1963) Josephine Baker, "Speech at the March on Washington" | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed". www.blackpast.org. 3 November 2011. Archived from the original on 20 September 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- Garber, Marjorie. Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life. Routledge, 2013, p. 122. ISBN 978-0-415-92661-4
- Assouline, P. Simenon, A Biography. Knopf (1997), pp. 74–75; ISBN 978-0-679-40285-5.
- "Josephine Baker". cmgww.com. Archived from the original on 9 November 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- Strong, Lester Q. (2006). "Baker, Josephine (1906���1975)" (PDF). GLBTQ Archive. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 August 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
- "Biography". Josephine Baker Estate. Archived from the original on 9 November 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- Onion, Rebecca (18 April 2014). "Josephine Baker's Rainbow Tribe". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Archived from the original on 19 September 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
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- Stephen Papich, Remembering Josephine. p. 149
- "Josephine Baker Biography". Women in History. 2008. Archived from the original on 18 January 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
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- Johnson Publishing Company (15 May 1975). "Jet". Jet : 2004: 28–. ISSN 0021-5996. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
- Verany, Cedric (1 November 2008). "Monaco Cimetière: des bornes interactives pour retrouver les tombes". Monaco Matin. Archived from the original on 27 December 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
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- Lab, Missouri Historical Society | Mohistory. "Junction of Channing Avenue (Josephine Baker Boulevard) with Lindell Boulevard and Olive Street". The Missouri Historical Society is ... Missouri Historical Society and was founded in 1866. Archived from the original on 29 July 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
- "Legacy Walk unveils five new bronze memorial plaques - 2342 - Gay Lesbian Bi Trans News". Windy City Times. Archived from the original on 21 April 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
- Piscine Joséphine Baker Archived 20 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine, paris.fr. Retrieved 3 June 2017.(in French)
- "What do twerking and the Charleston have in common?". BBC Magazine Monitor. 17 November 2014. Archived from the original on 18 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
- "Chez Josephine". Jean-Claude Baker. 2009. Archived from the original on 1 April 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2009.
- Crosley, Sloane (12 July 2016). "Exploring the France That Josephine Baker Loved". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 3 October 2020. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
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- Morgan Jerkins (3 June 2016). "90 Years Later, the Radical Power of Josephine Baker's Banana Skirt". Vogue. Archived from the original on 26 January 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
- Madeleine Buxton (3 June 2017). "Google Doodle Honors Jazz Age Icon & Civil Rights Activist Josephine Baker". Refinery 29. Archived from the original on 4 June 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
- <"Josephine Baker: The Story of an Awakening". Archived from the original on 15 October 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- Barmann, Jay (2 September 2014). "Castro's Rainbow Honor Walk Dedicated Today". SFist. SFist. Archived from the original on 10 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
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- Yollin, Patricia (6 August 2019). "Tributes in Bronze: 8 More LGBT Heroes Join S.F.'s Rainbow Honor Walk". KQED: The California Report. Archived from the original on 14 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
- "Petition seeks to honour French Resistance hero Joséphine Baker at the Panthéon". France 24. 30 May 2021. Archived from the original on 1 June 2021. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
- "Musical legend Josephine Baker to enter France's Pantheon". France 24. 22 August 2021. Archived from the original on 22 August 2021. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
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- "An Evening With Diana Ross (1977)". dianarossproject. Archived from the original on 24 October 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- Baer, Hester (Winter 2012). "'Das Boot' and the German Cinema of Neoliberalism". The German Quarterly. Wiley on behalf of the American Association of Teachers of German. 85 (1, German Film Studies): 34. doi:10.1111/j.1756-1183.2012.00135.x. JSTOR 41494715. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
- "Anastasia-Paris Hold the Key (to Your Heart) Original". Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2012 – via YouTube.
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- "The Triplets of Belleville (Les Triplettes de Belleville)". bonjourparis.com. August 2009. Archived from the original on 26 June 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- Scheib, Ronnie (13 March 2009). "Review: 'Carmen and Geoffrey'". Variety. Archived from the original on 4 August 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "Langston Hughes African American Film Festival 2009: Carmen and Geoffrey". bside.com. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
- "The characters referenced in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (Part 16, Josephine Baker)". thedailyhatch.org. 24 June 2011. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
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- Shoemaker, Allison (7 February 2017). "Timeless gets tipsy in a solid and unexpectedly timely episode". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
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- Helen Gelzer as 'Josephine': the concept musical. worldcat.org. 1986. OCLC 058782854.
- Jack Hockett – Josephine Baker correspondence, etc., (dated 1967–1976) part of the Henry Hurford Janes – Josephine Baker Collection at Yale University Archives, Box: 2, Folder: 78 Jack Hockett correspondence Archived 24 August 2021 at the Wayback Machine
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- "The Last Night of Josephine Baker". OutSmart Magazine. Archived from the original on 3 June 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
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- "The Ensemble Theatre Elevates the Life of Josephine Baker in Season Finale Musical 'Josephine Tonight'". Houston Style Magazine. 12 June 2019. Archived from the original on 3 June 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
- "Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein". The New York Times Book Review. 70: 150. 1965.
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- Anderson-Randolph, Peggi Eve (2012). Josephine's Incredible Shoe and the Blackpearls (Volume 1). ISBN 978-1-4775-7015-9.
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- De Baroncelli, Jacques, The French Way – Josephine Baker, retrieved 18 January 2019
- The Josephine Baker collection, 1926–2001 Archived 27 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine at Stanford University Libraries
- Atwood, Kathryn J., & Sarah Olson. Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-55652-961-0
- Baker, J.C., & Chris Chase (1993). Josephine: The Hungry Heart. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-40915-1
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- Guterl, Matthew, Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-674-04755-6
- Hammond O'Connor, Patrick (1988). Josephine Baker. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 978-0-224-02441-9
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- Jules-Rosette, Bennetta (2006). Josephine Baker: Image and Icon. Reedy Press. ISBN 978-1-933370-02-6
- Jules-Rosette, Bennetta (2007). Josephine Baker in Art and Life. Chicago: Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-07412-7.
- Kraut, Anthea, "Between Primitivism and Diaspora: The Dance Performances of Josephine Baker, Zora Neale Hurston, and Katherine Dunham", Theatre Journal 55 (2003): 433–50.
- Mackrell, Judith. Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation. 2013. ISBN 978-0-330-52952-5
- Mahon, Elizabeth Kerri (2011). Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History's Most Notorious Women. Perigee Trade. ISBN 978-0-399-53645-8
- Rose, Phyllis (1991). Jazz Cleopatra: Josephine Baker in Her Time. Vintage. ISBN 978-0-679-73133-7
- Schroeder, Alan (1989). Ragtime Tumpie. Little, Brown; an award-winning children's picture book about Baker's childhood in St. Louis and her dream of becoming a dancer.[ISBN missing]
- Schroeder, Alan (1990). Josephine Baker. Chelsea House. ISBN 978-0-7910-1116-4, a young-adult biography.
- Theile, Merlind. "Adopting the World: Josephine Baker's Rainbow Tribe" Archived 4 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine Spiegel Online International, 2 October 2009.
- Williams, Iain Cameron. Underneath a Harlem Moon: The Harlem to Paris Years of Adelaide Hall Archived 26 February 2021 at the Wayback Machine. Bloomsbury Publishers, ISBN 978-0-8264-5893-3 The book contains documentation of the rivalry between Adelaide Hall and Josephine Baker.
- Wood, Ean (2002). The Josephine Baker Story. Sanctuary Publishing; ISBN 978-1-86074-394-8
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Josephine Baker|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Josephine Baker.|
- Official website
- Josephine Baker at AllMusic
- Josephine Baker at the Internet Broadway Database
- Josephine Baker at IMDb (self)
- Josephine Baker at Find a Grave
- Portraits of Josephine Baker at the National Portrait Gallery, London
- "Discography at Sony BMG Masterworks". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
- The electric body: Nancy Cunard sees Josephine Baker (2003) – review essay of dance style and contemporary critics
- Guide to Josephine Baker papers at Houghton Library, Harvard University
- "Josephine Baker photographs". University of Missouri–St. Louis.
- Norwood, Arlisha. "Josephine Baker". National Women's History Museum. 2017.
- Josephine Baker paper at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library
- Finding aid to the Josephine Baker collection at Columbia University. Rare Book & Manuscript Library.