Since 1793, when the renowned British equestrian John Bill Rickets presented the first circus in America in a wooden amphitheatre in Philadelphia, it is estimated that there have been more than two thousand circuses in this country.  The American circus did not have the upper-class distinction of the theatre, nor a distinctive British quality, which was a selling point to a newly independent people, but the growth and popularity of the American circus in the early years can also be attributed to a time when horsemanship and physical endurance were part of everyday living.

  In the early days, circus performers operated their own shows, but as these shows became successful businessmen took them over.  Farmers turned-menagerie-owners around Somers, New York, quickly realized that they could increase profits by combining the two most popular traveling attractions of the day, the menagerie and the circus.  With the realization that fortunes could be made, many jumped on the bandwagon.

  By the late 1870s, P. T. Barnum, who had semi-retired from a lifelong pursuit of spectacle, illusion, and marvels, realized the popularity and financial potential of the American circus. Together with his associates, William Coup and James A. Bailey, he elevated the circus to America’s favorite form of entertainment—the greatest, the grandest and the richest.  

Many circuses stand out in the history of the circus, such as the Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey, Adam Forepaugh, Sells Bros., Cole Bros., and Hagenbeck-Wallace, but hundreds others have been lost in obscurity.  Many circuses have disappeared over the years because of low attendance, retirements, weather, war, accidents, depressions, lack of money; those that weathered the storms besetting the circus were able to survive for years if not decades. 

Through our research we have selected several hundred Circuses and made them accessible in our database. Below are listed, in alphabetical order are a representation of the circuses in America. Click a circus to view a brief description, or alternative names, related people, circus type and itineraries. Links will be provided to additional information within the database, including images and a historical timeline.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 1

Campa Bros. Circus, 1951-1951
Campbell Bros. Circus, 1923-1923
Campbell Bros. Circus, 1920-1922
Campbell Bros. Circus, 1930-1930
Campbell Bros. Circus, 1896-1912
Campbell Bros. & Lucky Bill Shows, 1923-1924
Campbell's Circus, 1915-1918
Campbell's Circus, 1869-1870
Campbell's Circus, 1877-1878
Campbell's Great Indian Shows, 1883-1888
Campbell's, Warner, Sheldenberger, Dan Rice, Handenberger & O'Brien Circus, 1877-1877
Carl Hagenbeck's Circus, 1903-1906
Carroll & Co.'s Circus, 1845-1845
Carroll & Mack Show, 1885-1885
Castello & Van Vleck's Circus, 1863-1863
Cayetano & Co.'s Circus, 1815-1818
Cayetano & Co.'s Circus, 1810-1812
Central Park Menagerie & Circus, 1872-1873
Charles Lee's Great London Shows, 1886-1896
Charles Lee's Great London Shows, 1898-1902
Chiarini & Nixon Circus,
Chiarini's Circus, 1855-1857
Chiarini's Circus, 1896-1897
Chiarini's Circus, 1886-1889
Chiarini's Circus, 1872-1881
Chiarini's Circus, 1868-1869
Chiarini's Circus, 1864-1865
Circle D Ranch Wild West & Cooper Bros. Shows,
Circus City Zoological Gardens, 1929-1934
Circus & National Theatre, 1846-1847
Circus USA, 1990-1993
Circus USA, 1974-1974
Clarion Bros. Circus, 1925-1925
Clayton & Bartlett's Circus, 1844-1845
Clayton & Welch Circus,
Clyde Beatty Circus, 1941-1942
Clyde Beatty Circus, 1945-1958
Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus, 1959
Clyde Beatty-Russell Bros. Circus, 1944-1944
Clyde Beatty-Wallace Bros. Circus, 1943-1943
Codet, Menial & Redon Circus, 1810-1810
Cole Bros. Circus, 1935-1952
Cole Bros. Circus, 1912-1913
Cole Bros. Circus, 1906-1909
Cole Bros. Circus, 1916-1924
Cole Bros. Circus, 1929-1930
Cole & Co.'s Circus, 1837-1837
Cole & Lockwood Circus, 1894-1895
Cole, Miller, Yale & Co. Circus, 1837-1837
Cole & Orton's Circus, 1871-1886
Cole & Rice Circus, 1933-1934
Cole & Rice Circus, 1911-1911
Cole & Rogers Circus, 1911-1911
Cole & Rogers Circus, 1928-1931
Cole & Rogers Circus, 1934-1934
Cole & Rogers Circus, 1905-1906
Cole's Southern Circus & Menagerie, 1881-1882
Col. G. W. Hall's Circus, 1898-1902
Col. G. W. Hall's Circus, 1910-1910
Col. G. W. Hall's Circus, 1884-1889
Col. G. W. Hall's Circus, 1919-1920
Col. G. W. Hall's Circus, 1892-1895
Conklin Bros. Circus, 1872-1872
Conklin Bros. Circus, 1912-1912
Conklin Bros. Circus & Prof. Samwell's Animals, 1873-1873
Cook Bros. Circus, 1935-1935
Cook Bros. Circus, 1928-1929
Cook Bros. Circus, 1909-1921
Cooke's Circus, 1860-1860
Cooke's Circus, 1836-1838
Cooke's Circus, 1864-1864
Cooke's Circus, 1868-1868
Cooke's Circus, 1947-1947
Cooke, Zoyara & Wilson Circus, 1865-1865
Cook's Circus,
Cook & Whitby Circus, 1892-1894
Cook & Wilson's Circus, 1916-1916
Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson,
Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876-1880
Cooper Bros. Circus, 1909-1909
Cooper Bros. Circus, 1945-1945
Cooper Bros. Circus, 1949-1949
Cooper Bros. Circus, 1936-1937
Cooper Bros. Circus, 1930-1930
Cooper Bros. Circus, 1920-1927
Cooper Bros. Circus, 1916-1917
Cosmopolitan Circus, 1866-1866
Coulter & Clark's Dog & Pony Show, 1907-1908
Coulter & Coulter's Famous Dog & Pony Shows, 1909-1910
Coup & Carver Wild West, 1884-1884
Cristiani Bros. Circus, 1956-1960
Cristiani-Wallace Bros. Circus, 1965-1965
Cristiani-Wallace Bros. Circus, 1962-1963
C. T. Ames Circus, 1865-1871
C. T. Ames Menagerie, 1865-1871
Cushing & Co.'s Circus, 1861-1862
C. W. Noyes' Circus, 1869-1874
C. W. Webb Circus, 1927-1927

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