Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Scope and Contents

Restrictions

Related Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Series I. American Circuses

Series II. Foreign Circuses

Series III. P. T. Barnum

Series IV. Dime Museums

Series V. Wild West Productions

Series VI. Posters and Playbills

University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Circus Collection:

A Preliminary Inventory of the Collection at the Harry Ransom Center



Title: Circus Collection
Dates: circa 1775-1988 (bulk circa 1850-1940)
Abstract: The Circus Collection consists of materials assembled from other Performing Arts collections. It is divided into six series: I. American Circuses, II. Foreign Circuses, III. P. T. Barnum, IV. Dime Museums, V. Wild West Productions, and VI. Posters and Playbills. The bulk of the collection dates from the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.
Call Number: Performing Arts Collection PA-00016
Extent: 34 document boxes, 6 oversize boxes, 27 flat file drawers, 1 lateral file cabinet drawer, 2 framed items (ca. 28 linear feet)
Language: English.
Note: This brief collection description is a preliminary inventory. The collection is not fully processed or cataloged; no descriptions of series or indexes are available in this inventory.
Repository: Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

The Circus Collection consists of materials assembled from other Performing Arts collections. It is divided into six series: I. American Circuses, II. Foreign Circuses, III. P. T. Barnum, IV. Dime Museums, V. Wild West Productions, and VI. Posters and Playbills. The bulk of the collection dates from the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.

The American Circuses series contains materials related to individual circuses as well as the performers and administrators associated with them. This series consists of newspaper clippings, photographs, posters, programs, and musical scores, with the bulk of the material dating from the mid-nineteenth century through the early twentieth century. Included in the American Circuses series is documentation of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, the Ringling Brothers Circus, John Robinson's Circus, and the Sells Floto Circus.

The Foreign Circuses series also contains clippings, photographs, posters, and programs, as well as numerous scrapbook pages. The majority of the material in this series covers British circuses and dates from the late 1800s.

The third series pertains to the showman P. T. Barnum (1810-1891) and contains photographs, posters, programs, and scrapbook pages related to Barnum's Circus and Museum and the performers who worked for and toured with him, both in Europe and in the United States. General Tom Thumb and Siamese twins Chang and Eng are especially well documented.

The Dime Museum series consists of cabinet cards of various Dime Museum and circus and carnival sideshow performers. Many of the performers depicted are not individually identified on the cabinet cards, but the cards are divided by type of act.

The fifth series contains newspaper clippings, photographs, programs, and scores documenting the Wild West productions of the late 1800s. The bulk of the material is related to Buffalo Bill Cody (1846-1917) and his Wild West Show. Other individuals featured in the series include Annie Oakley, Ned Buntline, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickock.

Posters and playbills make up the final series, which is divided into four subseries: A. American Circuses, B. Foreign Circuses, C. Wild West Shows and Rodeos, and D. Circus Performers. The bulk of this series consists of posters for American circuses such the P. T. Barnum Circus and Museum, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Adam Forepaugh Circuses, Hagenbeck-Wallace, Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey, and the Sells-Floto Circus, among others. Most of the foreign circus material pertains to performances in England.

The materials in the Circus Collection were gathered together by Performing Arts staff, with the majority of the material assembled from the Davis-Kendall Collection.

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Restrictions

Access:

Open for research. Selected digital images from this collection are available on the Harry Ransom Center Digital Collections website.

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Related Material

Related material may be found in the W. H. Crain Barnum & Bailey Circus Collection and the Joe E. Ward Circus Collection

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Administrative Information

Acquisition:

Assembled by Performing Arts staff from the Davis-Kendall Collection and others

Processed by:

Erin Lawrimore, 2002; Helen Adair, 2009; Helen Baer, 2012

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Circus Collection--Container List

 

Series I. American Circuses

Individual Circuses
Container
1 W. W. Cole's Circus
Adam Forepaugh's Circus
Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus
Container
2 New York circuses
Rice Brothers Circus
Ringling Brothers Circus
John Robinson Circus
Sells Floto Circus
Container
3 Small circuses
Performers
Container
4 Aerialists
Container
5 Animal acts
Container
6 Balancing acts
Cats
Clowns
Container
7 Contortionists
Elephants
Equestrian acts
Container
8-9 Gymnasts
Container
10 Midgets
Tightrope walkers
Container
11-12 Sideshow acts
Container
13 Circus administrators, cabinet cards
Container
14 Circus-related music
Circus wagons
Programs
Miscellaneous
Container
35 Oversize materials

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Series II. Foreign Circuses

Container
15 Individual circuses
Circus administrators and individual performers
Performers with a troupe
Container
16 Acrobats
Animal acts
Cats
Clowns
Dogs
Elephants
Container
17 Equestrian acts
Container
18 Sideshows
Container
19 Magazines and clippings
Container
20 Programs
Miscellaneous
Container
21 Events
Music
Obituaries
Theatres
Container
36-38 Oversize materials

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Series III. P. T. Barnum

Container
22 Photographs
Newspaper clippings
Scrapbook pages
Container
23-24 Programs
Container
25 Barnum's performers
Container
39 Oversize materials
Container
framed item 1 Barnum's American Museum, composite grouping of 42 cabinet cards and one print, ca. 1865-ca. 1900 (58 1/2 x 34 1/2 inches)

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Series IV. Dime Museums

Sideshow acts, cabinet cards
Container
26 Amputees/armless/legless
Animals
"Blue Man"
Circassian
Deformed
Container
26-27 Dwarfs
Container
27 Fats
Giants
Container
28 Long Hair
Nationalities
Oddities
Snake Charmers
Tattoos
Other performers, cabinet cards
Container
29 Aerialists
Animal Acts
Bicyclists
Clowns
Contortionists
Fire Eaters
Knife Throwers
Living Statues
Strongmen
Sword swallowers
Tight rope walkers
Miscellaneous

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Series V. Wild West Productions

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show
Container
30-31 Buffalo Bill, photographs and clippings
Container
32 Performers
Container
33 Programs
Scores
Container
34 Performers from other Wild West shows
Container
40 Oversize materials

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Series VI. Posters and Playbills

Subseries A. American Circuses
Container
lateral file 1 Al G. Barnes and Sells-Floto Combined Circus
P. T. Barnum
Container
lateral files 2-4 Playbills
Container
drawer 1 Posters
Container
drawers 2-5 Barnum & Bailey
Container
drawer 6 Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson
Clyde Beatty Circus / Clyde Bros. Circus / Cole Bros. / Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Combined Circus
Circus Vargas
Dutton Circus
Container
drawer 7 Adam Forepaugh
Adam Forepaugh and Sells Brothers
Container
lateral file 5 Great North American Circus and Hippodrome
Container
lateral file 6 Haag's Railroad Show
Container
drawer 7 Hagen Bros.
Hagenbeck
Container
drawers 7-9 Hagenbeck-Wallace
Container
drawer 9 Hagenbeck-Wallace and 4 Paw Sells Bros.
Container
lateral file 7 H. P. Madigan & Co.
Container
lateral file 8 Manley's Great Triple Alliance
Container
drawer 9 Tom Mix Circus
Myers' Great American Circus and Hippodrome
Container
lateral file 9 New York Circus
Dan Rice Circus
Container
lateral file 10 Playbills
Container
drawer 10 Posters
Ringling Bros.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
Container
framed item 2 Panoramic photograph of troupe in Cleveland, Ohio, 1920 (10 1/2 x 35 1/4 inches)
Container
lateral files 11-15 Playbills
Container
drawers 10-14 Posters
Container
drawer 14 Seils-Sterling Circus
Sells and Gray
Container
drawers 14-15 Sells Brothers
Container
drawers 15-17 Sells-Floto
Container
drawer 17 Shrine Circus
Container
lateral file 16 Sparks Circus
Container
lateral file 17 Van Amburgh & Co.'s Mammoth Menagerie
Container
lateral file 18 Whitby's Great Show and Circus
Container
drawer 17 Unidentified companies
Subseries B. Foreign circuses
England
Container
lateral files 19-29 Playbills
Container
drawers 18-20 Posters
Container
drawer 21 Other countries
Subseries C. Wild West Shows and Rodeos
Container
drawers 22-23 Buffalo Bill
Container
drawer 24 JE Ranch Rodeo
Red Horse Ranch Rodeo
Tiger Bill's Wild West
Unidentified Wild West show
Subseries D. Circus Performers
Container
drawers 25-27 Posters and playbills

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