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

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, 1907-1935
Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, 1937-1938
Haight & Chambers' Circus, 1866-1868
Haight & Co.'s Circus, 1872-1872
Haight & DeHaven's Circus, 1865-1865
Haight & DeHaven's Circus, 1875-1875
Haight & Wooten Circus, 1871-1871
Hall Bros. Circus, 1923-1925
Hall & McFlinn's Circus, 1896-1897
Hall, Nathans & Tufts New York Circus & Arena Co., 1839-1839
Hall, Nathans & Tufts New York, Circus & Arena Co., 1839-1839
Hall's Circus, 1837-1837
Hall's Circus, 1883-1883
Hall's Trained Animal Circus, 1925-1940
Hamid Circus Royal, 1998
Hamid-Morton Circus, 1942
Hamid-Morton & Hunt Bros. Circus, 1957-1957
Hamid's Circus, 1917-1917
Handenberger's Circus, 1871-1871
Handy & Welch Circus, 1829-1830
Happy Bill's Show, 1914-1914
Harley Sadler's Circus, 1935-1936
Harrington & Buckley Circus, 1830-1830
Harrington Circus, 1826-1827
Harrington Circus, 1831-1833
Harrington's Nickel Plate Show, 1932-1934
Harris & Dan Castello's Circus, 1883-1883
Harry Whitby's Circus,
H. C. Lee & Co.'s Circus, 1858-1858
H. C. Lee & Co.'s Circus, 1852-1852
Heffron's Great Eastern Show, 1889-1890
Hemmings & Cooper's Menagerie & Circus, 1871-1872
Hemmings, Cooper & Whitby's Circus, 1868-1870
Henry Rockwell's Circus,
Herr Driesbach & Co.'s Circus, 1856-1857
Herr Driesbach & Co.'s Menagerie, 1856-1857
Herr Driesbach's Menagerie & Howes' Transatlantic Circus, 1868-1868
Herr Driesbach's Menagerie, Rivers & Derious Circus, 1853-1853
Hilliard & DeMott's Great Pacific Circus, 1880-1881
Hilliard, Hamilton & Hunting's Great Pacific Circus, 1876-1877
Hilliard & Hamilton's Great Pacific Combination, 1874-1875
Hilliard & Hunting's Circus, 1877-1879
Hilliard, Mack & Carroll Circus, 1885-1885
Hilliard & Main Circus, 1883-1884
Hilliard, Main, Pullman & Mack's Circus, 1884-1884
Hilliard, Pullman & Mack's Circus,
Hilliard's Circus, 1887-1887
Hilliard's Circus, 1882-1882
Hilliard & Skinner's Variety & Indian Show, 1872-1872
Hill's Great London Circus, 1971-1974
Hippotheatron & New York Circus, 1864-1865
H. M. Smith's Great American Circus, 1855-1857
Hobby & Pratt Circus, 1842-1843
Honest Bill Shows, 1939-1939
Honest Bill Shows, 1935-1935
Honest Bill Shows, 1929-1929
Honest Bill Shows, 1927-1927
Honest Bill Shows, 1923-1924
Honest Bill Shows, 1921-1921
Honest Bill Shows, 1903-1918
Hopkins & Co.'s Circus,
Howard M. Cushman's & Bros. Great London Circus & Menagerie, 1875-1875
Howe Bros. Circus, 1937-1937
Howe & Cushing's Circus, 1899-1899
Howe & Cushing's Circus, 1894-1895
Howe, Pullman & Co.'s Circus, 1883-1884
Howes Champion Circus, 1865-1865
Howes & Co.'s Circus,
Howes & Co.'s Great United States Circus, 1845-1847
Howes & Cushing's Circus, 1870-1877
Howes & Cushing's Circus, 1858-1864
Howes & Gardner's Circus, 1844-1844
Howe's Great London Circus, 1871-1876
Howe's Great London Circus, 1895-1897
Howe's Great London Circus, 1918-1922
Howe's Great London Circus, 1908-1916
Howe's Great London Circus, 1902-1903
Howe's Great London Circus, 1889-1889
Howes' Great London Circus, 1902-1903
Howes' Great London Circus, 1908-1916
Howes' Great London Circus, 1918-1922
Howes' Great London Circus, 1871-1876
Howes' Great London Circus, 1889-1889
Howes' Great London Circus, 1895-1897
Howe's London Circus, 1886-1886
Howe's London Circus, 1889-1890
Howe's London Shows, 1889-1890
Howe's London Shows, 1886-1886
Howes & Mabie's Circus, 1841-1846
Howe's New London Circus, 1887-1888
Howes & Norton's Circus, 1864-1864
Howes & Richardson New York Circus & Menagerie, 1887-1887
Howes & Sands Circus, 1834-1834
Howes & Sands Circus, 1840-1840
Hoxie's Great American Circus, 1976-1984
H. P. Madigan & Co.'s Circus, 1870-1870
H. P. Madigan & Co.'s Circus, 1861-1862
H. P. Madigan & Co.'s Circus, 1856-1856
Hudson & Castello's New Great Atlantic Circus, 1881-1881
Hugo Bros. Circus, 1915-1915
Hugo Bros. Circus, 1917-1918
Hugo Bros. Circus, 1944-1946
Hummel, Hamilton & Co.'s Circus, 1897-1897
Hummel, Hamilton & Co.'s Circus, 1885-1885
Hummel, Hamilton & Sells Circus, 1897-1897
Humphrey & Lines United Menageries, 1841-1841
Hunt Bros. Circus, 1975-1977
Hunt Bros. Circus, 1863-1969
Hunting's Circus, 1888-1898
Hurlburt, Hunting & Frost's Circus, 1887-1887
Hurlburt & Hunting's Circus, 1885-1886
Hurlburt & Leftwich Circus, 1890-1895
Hurlburt's Equine & Canine Wonders, 1888-1889
H. W. Campbell's Shows, 1919-1921

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