the history of the circus

There are some folks at Illinois State University’s Milner Library doing some rather special archiving work – specifically, to preserve the history of the circus. Their Circus and Allied Arts Collection contains masses of cool artefacts, including trapeze fly bars, leotards and over 8000 circus-related books (the oldest of which was published in 1521; it’s about how to train your horse to please the court). Recently, the library has started digitising over 300 circus route books, which record all manner of details about the flamboyant acts from back in the day, along with personal anecdotes about life in the circus. If you’re curious about what the collection holds, take a scroll through the images below, then pop over to the Milner Library’s website, where thousands of photos are available for your viewing pleasure.

history of circus 1 

history of circus 2 

history of circus 3 

history of circus 4 

history of circus 5 

history of circus 7  

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