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

Mabie & Crosby's Circus, 1858-1858
Mabie & Nathans Circus, 1861-1861
Mabie & Sands Circus,
Mabie's Circus, 1847-1864
Mabie's Menagerie, 1847-1864
Mable Mack's Dog & Pony Circus,
Mack's Circus, 1911-1911
MacMahon's Circus, 1887-1892
Macomber & Co.'s Menagerie, 1825-1839
Macomber & Handy Circus,
Macomber, Welch & Co.'s Mammoth Zoological Exhibition, 1834-1839
Madigan & Carroll Circus, 1861-1862
Madigan, Carroll & Co.'s Circus,
Maginley, Carroll & Co.'s Circus, 1867-1868
Maginley & Co.'s Circus, 1874-1874
Maginley & Co.'s Circus, 1863-1863
Maginley's Big Show, 1899-1899
Main & Burdick's Circus, 1879-1879
Main & Co.'s Circus, 1881-1891
Main & Sargent Circus, 1891-1891
Maley's Circus, 1956-1956
Mammoth Elephant, Menagerie & Circus, 1835-1835
Manfredi Troupe, The (cm) ,
Mann, Moore & Co.'s Circus, 1853-1853
Maybury, Pullman & Hamilton's Circus, 1882-1882
McFlinn & Hall's Circus, 1889-1891
McHale Bros. Circus, 1928-1931
McMahon's Circus, 1887-1892
McPhee's Big Company, 1905-1905
Melbourn(e) Circus, 1932-1932
Melbourn(e) Circus, 1900-1909
Melville, Cooke and Sands Circus, 1863-1863
Melville, Maginley & Cooke's Circus, 1875-1875
Melville, Maginley & Co.'s Circus,
Melville's Australian Circus, 1864-1864
Menagerie & Circus Combined, 1839-1839
Menagerie & Circus Combined, 1836-1836
Menagerie & Circus Combined, 1840-1840
Merchants' Free Circus, 1955-1955
Metropolitan Circus, 1860-1865
Mette & Stokes Circus,
Mike Lipman's Circus, 1866-1866
Miller Brothers and Edward Arlington's 101 Ranch Wild West Show, 1908-1916
Miller, Mead & Delevan Menagerie, 1834-1835
Miller, Yale & Howes Circus, 1838-1838
Miller, Yale & Sands Menagerie and Circus, 1837-1837
Model Plate Shows, 1902-1902
Mollie Bailey's Circus, 1896-1924
Monte Carlo Circus, 1979-1979
Montgomery Queen's Circus, 1873-1877
Montgomery Queen's Circus, 1910-1912
Moon Bros. Circus, 1937-1937
Moon Bros. Circus, 1917-1918
Moon Bros. Circus, 1925-1925
Mssrs. A. Turner, Sons & Co.'s Circus, 1838-1842
Myers, Madigan & Barton's Circus,
Myers & Madigan's Circus, 1854-1856

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