Learning Exercise

The Circus in late 19th Century American History

The circus was once a cultural icon of the United States providing an entertainment for both large and small communities. This assignment will focus on how the circus fit into the 19th century culture of the United States and explain its importance to the American people.

The Circus in America: 1793-1940 surveys the history of the American circus over a 150-year period. It promotes serious... see more


Instructions: Read the following sections: Introduction, Circuses: P.T. Barnum, Ringley Brothers, Adam Forepough; Circus Posters, People, Animals, Acts, Music, Communication, Transportation, Venues, and Sounds of the Circus. Write a 5-7 page paper explaining the appeal of the circus to the American People in the 19th century and explain what the appeal of the circus tells us about the emerging American character before World War I.

Technical Notes

Software will have to be downloaded in order to view the film. The film is not required to complete the assignment.




United States Cultural History

Learning Objectives

To acquaint students with an important cultural icon of 19th century American life.