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

Jack Hoxie Circus, 1937-1937
Jack Hoxie Circus, 1929-1929
Jackley's Vienna Circus, 1875-1875
Jackson & Columbia Circus, 1827-1827
J. A. Jones Circus, 1902-1902
J. A. Jones Circus, 1898-1898
J. A. Jones Circus, 1907-1907
James E. Cooper's Circus, 1872-1872
James H. Gray's Circus,
James M. June & Co.'s Circus, 1850-1854
James Robinson's Circus, 1888-1888
James Robinson's Circus, 1879-1879
James Robinson's Circus, 1870-1872
James S. Livingston's Shows, 1910-1917
J. Brown Circus,
J. E. M. Hobby & Co.'s Menagerie & Circus, 1837-1840
Jeremiah Fogg & Co. Circus, 1826-1826
Jerry Mabie Circus & Driesbach's Menagerie,
Jethro Almond Circus, 1909-1912
Jethro Almond Circus, 1935-1935
J. E. Warner & Co.'s Circus, 1871-1873
J. E. Warner & Co.'s Circus, 1876-1876
J. F. Hummel's Show, 1898-1898
J. Forepaugh's Circus, 1888-1889
Jim Myers Great Show, 1856-1859
J. M. French's Circus, 1867-1870
Joe B. Webb Circus, 1936-1936
Joe Pentland's Circus, 1852-1852
Joe Pentland's Circus, 1854-1859
Joe Pentland's Circus, 1862-1862
John B. Doris' Great Inter Ocean Circus, 1883-1887
John H. Murray's Circus, 1872-1881
Johnny J. Jones Exposition with Clyde Beatty Circus, 1941-1942
John O'Brien's Circus, 1881-1886
John O'Brien's Circus, 1876-1877
John O'Brien's Circus, 1863-1873
John O'Brien's Menagerie, 1863-1873
John O'Brien's Menagerie, 1881-1886
John O'Brien's Menagerie, 1876-1877
John Pawling Great London Circus, 1949-1949
John Robinson's Circus, 1916-1930
John Robinson's Circus, 1863-1864
John Robinson's Circus, 1856-1858
John Robinson's Circus, 1866-1911
John Wilson & Co.'s Circus, 1859-1875
Jones Bros. Buffalo Ranch Wild West, 1910-1911
Jones Bros. Circus, 1900-1904
Jones Bros. Circus, 1910-1915
Jones Bros. Circus, 1935-1935
Jones Bros. & Wilson's Circus, 1914-1914
Jones Enormous Shows, 1906-1906
Jones, Stickney & North Circus,
J. T. MacCaddon's Great International Circus, 1905-1905
June, Titus, Angevine & Co.'s Circus, 1834-1834
June, Titus, Angevine & Co.'s Circus, 1838-1842
June, Titus, Angevine & Co.'s Menagerie, 1838-1842
June, Titus, Angevine & Co.'s Menagerie, 1834-1834
June, Titus & Co.'s Circus and Menagerie, 1833-1833
June, Titus & Co.'s Circus and Menagerie, 1848-1849
June & Turner's Menagerie & Circus, 1844-1848
Jungle Wonders Circus, 1978-1980
J. W. Gentry Overland Shows, 1918-1918
J. W. Stocking's National Circus, 1839-1840
J. W. Wilder's Circus,

   Pre-1793 | 1793-1800 | 1801-1824 | 1825-1871 | 1872-1905 | 1906-1940 |
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