Wisconsin History Day By Day

Related Web Sites:
Wisconsin Historical Markers

Ringling Brothers: The Beginnings of the 'Greatest Show on Earth'

The Greatest Show on Earth

Baraboo's Rich Circus History

Read More About It

"The Ringling Brothers: Circus Family" by Richard Glendinning

"The Ringling Brothers: Circus Boys" by Olive Woolley Burt

"The Circus Comes Home: When the Greatest Show on Earth Rode the Rails" by Lois Duncan

"Those Amazing Ringlings and Their Circus" by Gene Plowden



Interesting Fact:

By 1890 the Ringling Brothers Circus was traveling by train and by 1900 it was the largest circus in the country. Their cook house had a crew of 130 and served over 4,000 meals a day to the circus performers and staff.

Study Questions:

  • What circus did the Ringling brothers merge with in 1919?
  • What is the history of the modern circus?
  • What is the history of the early days of the Ringling brothers' circus?

    U.S. historical events that occurred on May 19:

    1906: The Federated Boys Club, now the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, is organized.

  • May 19

    May 19, 1884: The Ringling brothers, Al, Otto, Alf T., Charles and John, gave their first circus show performance in Baraboo. By 1890 their circus boasted having two elephants and traveled on its own railroad cars.

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