Heralds came into vogue in the mid-19th century as a method for circuses, traveling theater troupes, medicine shows, Vaudeville acts, carnivals, dime museums, Wild West shows and the like to raise awareness for their future stands.
These typically oblong and text-heavy posters were often tacked up on poles by advance men to announce the coming attractions. They used colorful language and bold black-and-white images to whip up enthusiasm and attract audiences during the show’s short stop-over before moving on to the next town on the circuit.
Cheaply produced and quickly discarded, relatively few heralds survive to the present day. Milner Library’s continuing efforts to digitally preserve the hundreds of disintegrating heralds in our world-class Circus and Allied Arts holdings results in new pieces being added to this online collection all the time; be sure to stop back periodically to check out the new arrivals!