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

Raymond & Co.'s & Herr Driesbach's Menagerie, 1851-1851
Raymond & Co.'s Menagerie, 1835-1854
Raymond & Co.'s & Van Amburgh's Menagerie, 1850-1853
Raymond, Ogden & Co.'s Menagerie, 1830-1834
Raymond, Ogden & Co.'s Menagerie, 1842-1842
Raymond, Waring, Ogden, Weeks & Co.'s Circus, 1839-1839
Raymond, Waring, Ogden, Weeks & Co.'s Menagerie, 1839-1839
Raymond & Waring's Menagerie, Museum and Circus United, 1844-1850
Raymond & Waring's Menagerie, Museum and Circus United, 1839-1842
Raymond, Waring, Weeks & Co.'s Circus, 1841-1843
Raymond, Waring, Weeks & Co.'s Menagerie, 1841-1843
Raymond, Weeks & Co.'s Menagerie, 1834-1834
Raymond, Weeks & Co.'s Menagerie, 1843-1844
Reinsch Brothers,
R. E. J. Miles Circus Royale, 1863-1863
Rentz Bros. & Orton's Circus,
Rentz's Royal German Allied Shows, Great New York Circus, 1889-1889
Rice & Bell Circus, 1910-1910
Rice Bros. Circus, 1920-1924
Rice Bros. Circus, 1906-1907
Rice Bros. Circus, 1909-1916
Rice Bros. Circus, 1934-1936
Rice, Ryan & Spalding Circus, 1873-1873
Rich & Downie Circus, 1890-1890
Rich & Mettie Circus, 1891-1891
Richmond Hill Circus, 1837-1837
Richmond Hill Circus, 1833-1833
Ricketts' Circus, 1793-1800
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1919
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows Inc., 1932
Ringling Bros. Carnival of Fun, 1882-1888
Ringling Bros. Circus, 1884-1918
Robbins Bros. Circus, 1940-1940
Robbins Bros. Circus, 1965-1965
Robbins Bros. Circus, 1938-1938
Robbins Bros. Circus, 1924-1931
Robbins Bros. Circus, 1949-1949
Robinson & Eldred's Circus, 1845-1846
Robinson & Foster Circus, 1842-1844
Robinson & Howes' Champion Circus, 1863-1864
Robinson & Lake's Circus, 1859-1862
Robinson's Circus, 1866-1877
Robinson's Famous Circus, 1913-1915
Robinson's Famous Circus, 1910-1911
Robson Bros. Circus, 1911-1914
Robson Bros. Circus, 1928-1928
Robson Bros. Circus, 1933-1933
Rockwell & Co.'s Circus, 1847-1848
Rockwell & Co.'s Circus, 1850-1850
Rockwell & Stone's Circus, 1842-1846
Rosston, Springer & Henderson's Circus, 1871-1872
Rothschild & Co.'s Circus, 1874-1876
Rowe & Marshall Circus, 1858-1859
Rowe & Perez Circus, 1839-1845
Rowe & Perez Circus, 1837-1837
Rowe's Circus, 1856-1857
Rowe's Circus, 1849-1850
Rowe & Whitby Circus, 1847-1849
Royal Hippodrome Circus,
R. Sands Circus, 1840-1840
R. Sands Circus, 1860-1862
R. Sands Circus, 1850-1852
R. Sands Circus, 1844-1845
R. Sands & Co. & G. C. Quick & Co.'s Circus & Menagerie, 1851-1853
Rufus Welch's Circus, 1842-1842
Rufus Welch's Circus, 1845-1845
Rufus Welch's Circus, 1850-1851
Rufus Welch's Circus, 1856-1856
Russell Bros. Circus, 1924-1924
Russell Bros. Circus, 1919-1919
Russell Bros. Circus, 1945-1945
Russell Bros. Circus, 1928-1943
Russell Bros. Circus, 1912-1912
Ryan & Robinson's Circus, 1882-1882
Ryan, Stevens & Robinson's Circus, 1882-1882

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