Vintage Circus Photos From The Wisconsin Historical Society Archives

The Wisconsin Historical Society has a great archive of vintage circus photos, a visit from the ghosts of circus past:

Erma Ward

Trapeze artist Erma Ward by H. A. Atwell Studio

Vintage photos of jolly things like circuses always strike me as a little creepy. It could be the memento morii aspect, a philosophical meditation on time passing and the joys of today being subsumed by the ruins of tomorrow. Or perhaps it’s a call to a simpler time, nostalgia for the allure of the mysterious world that carnies and show people inhabited, the excitement of getting just a glimpse of that sordid existence, free from the mundane, signified by the sudden appearance of the circus parade on Main Street of small-town America.

Toto The Clown

Toto the Clown with children by Angus B. McVicar

Or it could be the clowns. Yeah, actually, I would have to say it’s definitely the clowns.

via Ephemera Assemblyman & the inestimable Adam Koford

Simone Davalos
Simone Davalos