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The Ringling News

20 December 2022

Step Right Up: Digitizing Over 100 Years of Circus Route Books

by developer

Over one hundred years of circus history is captured in this project. Route books hold information on people, positions, animals, events, and the circus route.  No other unique publication offers as much information on circus routes.

First Annual Route Book of the Great William Sells and James H. Gray United Shows Season 1900

The Step Right Up: Digitizing Over 100 Years of Circus Route Books project provides increased ability to locate information held in these publications when searching online.  Researchers now have a complete digital copy with enhanced key word searching capabilities to the 307 original circus route books held in public collections.  Users are no longer limited to see their content in the locations where they are physically held.  These route books can be accessed here.

This project is consistent with the open data movement in progress globally. Open data is data freely available for everyone to use, re-use and openly distribute. Enhancing the discovery of information held in route books in shared and linked open data environments presents an opportunity to share this information to a broader audience and expand opportunities for its re-use.

Step Right Up: Digitizing Over 100 Years of Circus Route Books is a Hidden Collections grant funded project through the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). This project is the combined efforts of The Ringling Archives, Milner Library Special Collections at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois and the Robert L. Parkinson Library & Research Center at Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

So, step right up to search and discover the fascinating escapades that occurred along these historic circus routes. It has never been easier to locate information in these publications as a result of this project.