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CHS is not responsible for the accuracy or content of the sites listed.


  • Early History History of the circus from the Roman era to the 19th century.

  • Let's Go to the Circus Take a visual trip back in time to see what the circus was like from the 1860s to the 1960s. 158 Circus photographs/images from Wisconsin Historical Society.

  • Great American Circuses Hartland B. Smith's collection of circus memorabilia. Photos, information, posters, and more.

  • Golden Age of the Circus Short article summarizes circus history.

  • Step Right Up! Bob Brooke presents the history of the circus in America. Includes the beginnings of the circus in America, P.T. Barnum, Golden Age of the Circus, Circus Trains, Barnum & Bailey, Ringling Bros. From October/November, 2001, History Magazine's History of the Circus.

  • Australia's Circus History Mark St. Leon's website with various aspects of Australia's circus history, photos, reminscences, routes, biographies, genealogical information, links, etc.

  • Ontario Circus & Exhibition Historical Data (Ontario, Canada). Includes Circus Troupes, Exhibitions, Menageries, Sideshows, Novelty Acts, Specialty Shows. Routes, maps, performers. This site attempts to list traveling troupes in Ontario, Canada, which were variously referred to as a circus, exhibition, menagerie, etc. Click on "Troupe Listings" to view the list of shows.

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  • Al G. Barnes Casper "Whitey" Jensen spent time the Al G. Barnes circus as a Boss Canvasman. Photos and more from his time with the Barnes circus.

  • Charles Lee Circus circa 1887 - 1896. Includes 1890 route.

  • Michigan Circus Families Major Circus Families. Lewis Bros., Mat Wixom's, Whitney Family, Silver Family, Nelson Family

  • Miller Brothers' 101 Ranch Real Wild West Show, Colonel George W. Miller founded the 101 Ranch in northern Oklahoma. The Miller family fielded the 101 Wild West Show and traveled the United States and the world from 1905 to 1931.

  • Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Discover More, P.T. Barnum, James A. Bailey, Ringlings, Legends & Lore.

  • Royal Bros. Circus, My Great Circus Adventure, The Summer of My Circus, by Steven Friedman. A photo essay from a summer with the Royal Brothers Circus in 1973. Part-owner Al Stencell's comments: Royal Bros. Circus was a partnership between Johnny Frazier and myself from 1973 until fall of 1976. It operated under that title for four seasons in Canada. The first season was all in Ontario to incredible business. You can see some of the crowd scenes on the midway. The tent was a 60 foot round with three 30' middles that I had bought from Hoxie Tucker. It was one of the early tops he had used and had in storage. The seats, curb, lighting, etc. came from the defunct Roberts Bros. Circus. Bob and Doris Earls show. Those ring curbs are what we called "shadow curbs." Some shows had similar ones only made of canvas or cloth. Not good for liberty horses, etc. The elephant was named "Babe' and was leased from Dory Miller. The marquee and those band uniforms were given to Shirley and myself by Doc Boas.

Youth Circuses

  • American Youth Circus Organization, founded in 1998 to connect youth circus programs in the United States. AYCO supports youth circus activity through information, connections and advocacy.

  • Flying High Circus is one of only two collegiate circuses in the United States. A unique tradition on the campus of Florida State University since 1947, the Circus is a year-round program in which FSU students can participate.

  • Gamma Phi Circus at Illinois State University, is the oldest youth circus in the United States, founded in 1929. gammaphicircus

  • Great Y Circus, at Redland, California, was founded in 1929. It is the oldest community circus in the world and one of only six programs like it in the United States.

  • Circus Harmony teaches the art of life through circus education to build character and expand community for youth of all ages, cultures, abilities and backgrounds.

  • Circus Juventas is a performing arts youth circus school located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Founded in 1994, offers youth circus arts training and performance opportunities for children and youth ages 3 to 21.

  • Peru Amateur Circus is held each summer during Peru, Indiana's Circus City Festival. Founded in 1960 to develop self-worth, teamwork, responsibility and friendships in youth ages 7 to 21. Peru Youth Circus

  • Triton Troupers Circus, founded in 1971, is affiliated with Triton College in River Grove, Illinois, a city/local circus, produced by students and others.

  • Wenatchee Youth Circus, "The Biggest Little Circus in the World", founded in 1952, continues to provide a live circus with performers ages from 6-18. The circus travels and performs in the summer months and practices indoors in the winter.

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  • Circus World Museum Circus World's America's Circus Museum website provides information about this National Historic Landmark. Click on "Our Treasures" for Parkinson Library information.

  • Ringling Museum of The Circus The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Click on Museum of the Circus for contact and access information, The Ringling Family Show: A Short History, John Ringling, the Circus King, The Circus: Sarasota's Unique Heritage The Ringling Museum of the Circus & Its Collections: An Overview, and a Virtual Tour of the Circus Museum.

  • Barnum Museum, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

  • International Circus Hall of Fame, Peru, Indiana, was home to some famous shows, including Hagenbeck-Wallace, Sells-Floto, Terrell Jacobs, John Robinson, and Howes Great London.

  • Circus City Festival, Peru, Indiana. Loads slow.

  • Miami County Museum, Peru, Indiana. Peru, Circus City of the World, has had a long circus history. The museum's archives has a large collection of circus programs, route cards, photographs, advertisements, and reference material.

  • Shelburne Museum Circus Collection, Vermont has two hand-carved wood circuses: the Roy Arnold Circus Parade and the Kirk Bros. Circus, as well as more than 500 circus posters dating from 1870 to 1940.

  • Buffalo Bill Historical Center

  • Brewster, New York Southeast Museum's page on the early circus in Southeast and Brewster, NY. Many showman and circus people came from Southeast. Nathan Howes and Seth B. Howes began their show business careers at early ages, in Southeast.

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  • Circus Fans Association CFA was established in 1926 to enjoy and preserve the circus as an institution. CFA has an annual national convention with a focus on circus-theme seminars and other circus-related events and activities. Their magazine, The White Tops, is published six times a year, with national and international circus news, tent and top interests, performer profiles, updates about legislative initiatives, and historical facts and photos of circuses past.

  • Circus Model Builders Circus Model Builders is an international group of circus enthusiasts that create, collect, and display models of the circus to preserve the rich history and support the continuance of the unique entertainment spectacle that is circus.

  • Showfolks of Sarasota Showfolks of Sarasota was conceived in 1964 as "An International Alliance of Circus Artists and Executives". Since that time, Showfolks membership has grown to encompass individuals from all aspects of show business and the entertainment world, to include "friends of the circus" who are members of supportive organizations such as Circus Fans of America, Circus Historical Society, Circus Model Builders, and Windjammers Unlimited (musicians).

  • Showmen's League of America Founded in 1913, by a group of outdoor showmen meeting at the Saratoga Hotel in Chicago. Buffalo Bill Cody, the Wild West performer, was elected the club's first president. The Showmen's League of America is the oldest organization of its type in North America.

  • Windjammers Dedicated to the preservation of traditional circus music.

  • Circus Saints & Sinners Club of America

  • Circus 4 Youth Sponsored by Circus Fans Association of America - CFA.

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  • Circus Posters. History of the circus poster, including original manufacturing procedures, types of posters produced, component parts of posters (which are now often altered or lost), and how posters were originally used within the context of the circus. WAAC Newsletter, Volume 17, Number 2, May 1995.

  • Circus Posters, Princeton University has placed a number of circus posters in their collection online.

  • Ringling Museum of Art, circus poster collection, over 4,000 images. Ringling Museum of Art, circus photographs.

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  • Charles Eisenmann Photographs,, 1,412 photographs, primarily side-show and dime museum performers, but some photos of circuses. click on browse, comes up with Erie Railroad Glass Plate Negative Collection, use the pull-down menu and select Ronald G. Becker Collection of Charles Eisenmann Photographs.

  • Simply Circus Abstracts and links to masters and Ph.D theses. Topics: Social circus, new circus, clowning, circus linguistics, circus history, other.

  • Buckles Woodcock Blog Discussion of everything Circus and American Circus History in general.

  • Sawdust and Spangles Bob Cline's Blog, sharing circus history.

  • Bill Strong's Blog Circus of days gone by.

  • Raffaele De Ritis' Blog Facts and pictures about the history (and sometimes the present) of circus, magic, sideshows, burlesque, and other curiosities.

  • Ivan Henry's Blog Circus history, starting in the 1800ís to the present.

  • Lost Museum (P. T. Barnum) Recreates one of the most intriguing places in American history. The Lost Museum is an intellectual and spatial exploration of P. T. Barnum's American Museum. For almost a quarter-century the American Museum epitomized popular entertainment and education in the U.S. It also articulated, sometimes in unusual ways, the major issues confronting American culture, society, and politics. Barnum's American Museum was destroyed on July 13th, 1865 in one of the most spectacular fires in New York City's history.

  • Through the "Front Door" to the "Backyard": Linguistic Variation of the American Circus. Thesis, Lisa Burns, Illinois State University Anthropology Department. Focuses on the language of the circus in the Traditional American Circus and the New American Circus from an anthropological standpoint.

  • Circopedia, the free encyclopedia of the international circus, a project of the Big Apple Circus. Artists and Acts; Acts by Specialty; Owners and Directors; Circus History; Oral History; Photo Archive; Video Archive; Glossary.

  • Billboard, online, 1894 - 1911, may not be not complete for some years. View in text, pdf and other formats.

  • New York Clipper, online, 1916-17, Jan 1918, 1919-20, may not be complete for some years. View in text, pdf and other formats.


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Circus Historical Society, Inc.

CHS webmasters J. Griffin and Bob Cline, last modified September 2008.

Circus Historical Society, on the web since May 3, 2002.