The Circus Historical Society encourages the highest quality of research, scholarship and writing about American circus history, announces The Stuart Thayer Prize. It annually recognizes a superior work by awarding the Stuart Thayer Prize. This award is named in honor of Stuart Thayer, the author of numerous foundational and insightful works published about the antebellum American circus and menagerie. The selection and awarding of the Stuart Thayer Prize is managed by a three member committee who are appointed every four years by the newly-elected Circus Historical Society president during his or her initial three months in office.

Nomination Form


CONTENT. Nominated works must be substantially about American circus history or a very closely related topic.

FORMAT. Works may be in any printed form: book; article; pamphlet; booklet; bibliography; a compendium of essays; exhibitor sales catalog; a single essay that is part of a more extensive work; or an original work contained in digital format on a disk or loaded on a permanent website.

POSTHUMOUS PUBLICATION. Works by deceased authors being published posthumously for the first time are eligible for nomination. The prize shall be awarded to the closest survivor or an immediate family representative, or to a representative of the organization that accomplished the publication.

EXCLUSIONS. Exhibits, websites, symposiums, etc. that do not issue a permanent document or are not archived in some permanent format are not eligible for nomination. Fictional works are not eligible. Simple re-printings and new editions of older works, without annotation or other updating that substantially improve the value of the work, do not qualify for nomination. Virtual and digital library content and activity are not eligible for nomination.

RELEASE DATE. Works published, issued or released within the two calendar years before the prize year are eligible for nomination.

NOMINATORS. Any current member in good standing of the Circus Historical Society may nominate one or more works for the Prize. Officers, Board members and members of the Prize committee who are CHS members may nominate works. Members may nominate their own works for the Prize.

NOMINATION SUBMISSIONS.  All nominations shall be submitted in the format of the official nomination form. No other nomination forms shall be accepted.

DEADLINE. Nominations must be submitted no later than March 31 in order to be considered for the current year.  Nominations are welcomed at any time during the year and will be considered by the selection committee consistent with these eligibility criteria.

ANNOUNCEMENT. The Thayer Prize will be announced and awarded at the CHS convention.


2012 Richard Georgian Cossacks, Indians, and Buffalo Bill Book
2013 Frederik Schodt Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe: How an American Acrobat Introduced Circus to Japan and Japan to the West Book
2014 Kevin Duncan Wall The Ordinary Acrobat Book
2015 No Prize
2016 David Carlyon The Education of a Circus Clown: Mentors, Audiences, Mistakes Book
2017 Alex Albright Mose McQuittya’s Band and Minstrel Days 1899-1937 Bandwagon, Vol. 60 Issue 3
2018 Circus World Museum Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Homecoming (Employee Reunion) Audio Archive
2019 Micah Childress Circus Life, Performing and Laboring Under America’s Big Top Shows, 1830 – 1920 Book
2020 Chris Berry “The Greatest SHOWS on Earth” Bandwagon, Vol. 63 Issue 4