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Advertisement for P.T. Barnum's Traveling World's Fair


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

P.T. Barnum was born in Bethel, CT on July 5, 1810. He is known today for his museums and traveling circuses. He began his career as a showman in New York, where he advertised the change to meet Joice Heth, who he claimed was a 161-year-old Black woman who had been the nurse of George Washington, which later deemed a hoax. In 1841, purchased Scudder's American Museum, where he presented many types of exhibits. Throughout his life, Barnum believed that curiosity is the essence to catch people's attraction. Barnum died on April 7, 1891.

Today, Barnum's legacy is controversial. He has attracted criticism for his exploitation of people with disabilities and people of color. Today, Barnum and Bailey has been combined with Ringling Circus.

Sources: P.T. Barnum, An Entertaining Life ( P. T. Barnum's Great Traveling Exposition and World's Fair, Season of 1873 (

This broadside advertises Barnum's "Great Traveling World's Fair for the Capaign of 1873." This tour was to start at the American Institute on Monday March 31st. They would remain there for about ten days, before moving on to a railroad tour of "nearly every large town in New England, Canada, and the states east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio." The first stop on the tour was the Empire Rink, a former building of the American Institute in New York City.

The tour boasted of a "Hippodrome Tent" that could seat over 13,000 people and had three different rings for three different acts to perform at the same time. Both a variety of animal and human acts were performed in the circus, and as such the advertisement refers to it as a "Museum, Menagerie and a Hippodrome." Along with the performance, everything and everyone in the show would join in a parade at 8 AM each morning for three miles. Performances were 3 times a day: at 10 AM, 1PM, and 7PM.

Single sheet

Purchased from Duane E. Merrill auction

Processed by Qianzhi Zhao and Olivia Loudon, completed September 2023

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Qianzhi Zhao and Olivia Loudon
Finding Aid Date
September, 2023
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Law Applies (U.S. Title 17)

Collection Inventory

Box 5

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