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Collection Highlights

  • Greta Frisk, new Danish aerialist, Nina Karpowa, new German aerialist, and Miss Marna (Del Maria Paulo), new Spanish aerialist. July 29, 1952.

    Aerialist portraits

    Acrobatic artists of the high wire and trapeze pause to have their pictures taken in wardrobe.

  • Felix Adler of Clinton, Illinois, clown head against the sky. He was a very good clown on Ringling show for many years. September 12, 1942.

    Ringling Barnum clowns

    Wearing exaggerated costumes, pantomiming with oversize props, and sporting plenty of white face paint, these comedic performers mug and pose for the camera.

  • Ringling Barnum 1934 Dorothy Herbert on rearing horse litho.

    Circus posters

    Some of the earliest photos in the Braathen slide collection, these shots of promotional posters document the routes taken by Ringling Barnum, Hagenbeck-Wallace, and other circuses throughout the Midwest during the 1930s and 40s.

  • Carl Wallenda high wire act.

    High wire acts

    Feats of skill and daring performed high above the ground by glamorously-attired aerial artists.

  • Corky Cristiani, Sverre and Faye O. Braathen. May 12, 1947.

    Circus fans

    No circus is complete without an audience! The Braathens, members of the Circus Fans Association, and other circus aficionados get up close and personal with the performers.

  • Leon De Rosseau whose act was a 40 foot backward drop. Cole Bros. had a fellow called Hopa-long Cassidy so people called this fellow 'drop along placidly.' July 20, 1950.

    Cowgirls and cowboys

    The United States reached peak nostalgia for an imagined Western frontier during the mid-20th century. With strong roots in the Wild West shows of previous decades, circuses fueled this cowboy fever by showcasing equestrian tricks and rodeo spectacles.