From its founding in the 18th century, women found path to independence through the circus by actively making the decisions that shaped their lives. Female performers often entered into contracts on their own, moving from one show title to another as it was deemed advantageous to their career. Their well-traveled lifestyles and exposures to a diverse population of performers provided circus women with broad knowledge not only of various cultures, but also on legal matters that impacted their profession.
In April of 1912, one week after meeting with women from the Barnum & Bailey Suffrage group, leaders of the Women's Political Union leaders acknowledged that “there is no class of women who show better that they have a right to vote than the circus women, who twice a day prove that they have the courage and endurance of men.”
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Howard and Janice Tibbals, the Howard Tibbals Collection, and the Howard Tibbals Endowment.
Sponsor support was provided by Sarasota Magazine and Sarasota Herald-Tribune Media Group
Strobridge Lithographing Co., American
Barnum & Bailey: Katie Sandwina, 1912
Tibbals Circus Collection