The kazoo was most likely derived from an African instrument called the mirliton. African tribes used it as a voice disguiser during religious ceremonies. In America, a modified version of the mirliton was a popular African-American folk instrument during the 1800s. The modern-day kazoo was invented by Alabama Vest during the 1840s. He drew up the plans for the instrument and had it made by a clockmaker named Thaddeus Von Clegg. In 1852, they demonstrated their kazoo at the Georgia State Fair, and it became a popular instrument in that region. In the early 1900s, a method for large-scale kazoo manufacture was developed by Emil Sorg and Michael McIntyre. McIntyre later started selling kazoos in 1914 and received a patent on the process in 1923. He went on to found the Original American Kazoo Company which is still in operation today. Later, the plastic kazoo was developed, and it is now the standard material from which most kazoos are made.


  • Title: Kazoo
  • Date Created: ca. 1980
  • Location: West Germany
  • Subject Keywords: music
  • Type: More Toys
  • Medium: plastic
  • Object ID: 111.4738
  • Credit Line: Gift of David B. Tischler

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps