The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is back in Denver, so we dove into the Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection as we tend to do on Thursdays to look at circuses in days of yore.
The only shot of Barnum and Bailey we could find featured a perhaps problematic photo of a one “Col. Tim McCoy and his Indian Line Up” that we thought might be in poor taste to blast around the internet. Instead, here are some other images of a bygone era which, true to form, still feature conventions that might prove uncomfortable to a modern sensibility.
If an image of a monkey in chains or a show elephant rubs you the wrong way, remember progress is actually a thing. This May Ringling Brothers’ elephants performed their last show.
Kevin Beaty is a media producer with experience in a variety of settings spanning Hollywood film sets to international backpack journalism expeditions. He is on a never-ending quest to meld artful imagery, functional design and intimate storytelling. His biggest struggle in any given moment is whether to shoot stills or video. Find him on Twitter and Instagram at @kevinjbeaty. View all posts by Kevin Beaty