With the help of one of the largest grants in the history of Milner Library, more than 300 circus route books have been digitized to preserve the rich history of one of the most important forms of American entertainment.
Previously, anyone wishing to access circus route books for research or other purposes would have had to physically visit one of three circus collections: Milner Library’s Special Collections; Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin; or The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) awarded $268,000 for the three organizations to collaborate and digitize circus route books dating from 1842–1969.
The route books also house stories about performers. “We learned a lot about Josephine Demott (Robinson), a famous equestrian and how she was involved with the women’s suffrage movement along with other circus performers,” shared Harman. “She used her platform as a famous performer and as a strong woman who made her own living to support the movement.”
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Direct to Digital Collection: 300 Circus Route Books