If you are seeking a specific individual, you’re better served by posting his or her name, nickname, stage name, alias, etc., rather than asking about resources. Limiting a person search by show title can very well exclude the resources that might be most useful. You can do key word searches for people, by name, nickname, variations and stage names in New York Clipper at Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections and in Billboard at Fulton History. These cover from the 1900s into about 1922/1923. If you know for a fact that they were solely with Sells-Floto 1915-1928, then a specific search is appropriate. If you know the location and date of a circus visitation, and not the title, it’s also possible to identify the show in question by searching circus routes.
There is, perhaps, some limited 1920s Sells-Floto employment documentation in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey business records in the Circus World Museum library. These came into RBBB possession via the purchase of the former American Circus Corp. in 1929. Check for an online collection register, or communicate with librarian Pete Shrake about holdings.
The Buffalo Bill name was a formal part of Sells-Floto for just two seasons, 1914 and 1915, but the name was invoked in advertising a couple times later, in the 1920s. In 1916 Cody was with the 101 Ranch and in 1917 with Jess Willard. That was the end of his show career.
There have been illustrated articles published about most Sells-Floto tours from the mid-1900s origin into the mid-1920s in the CHS journal Bandwagon and the CFA journal White Tops. You can find these in the article indexes and order back copies. The three major public circus collections have also posted images online, on their websites [Circus World Museum, Illinois State University-Bloomington, Milner Library; John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art]. You might also contact the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. There are also many other images online and in various collections across the country. Images can be catalogued by show name, person’s name, or the generic activity illustrated, as well as by the photographer or community.
Fred Dahlinger Jr., Curator of Circus History, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL
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