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Further Reading

. "The Circus Comes to America." Cobblestone (August 1982).

Found in Cobblestone, a children's magazine providing United States history curriculum to students age 9-14, this cover page article on the history of circus in America devotes a significant portion to covering John Bill Ricketts.

Durant, John and Alice Durant. Pictorial History of the America Circus. New York, NY: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1957.

This source provides circus history from old world roots to the 1950s. It has two pages dedicated to John Ricketts.

Granfield, Linda. Circus: An Album. New York, NY: DK Children, 2000.

This high interest level book for kids (age 8-12) not only traces circus history from ancient Egypt to modern day, but also gives fascinating facts and details about circus life and famous circus performers. Visual appeal includes newspaper headlines, circus posters, and photographs (full color and black-and-white).

Moy, James S. "Entertainments at John B. Rickett’s Circus, 1793-1800." Educational Theater Journal 30:2 (May 1978): 186-202.

Weil, Lisl. Let's Go to the Circus. New York, NY: Holiday House, 1988.

This picture book, geared toward lower elementary readers, gives a general overview of the history of the circus and quickly helps students to get a frame of reference of circus history. 32 pages.

Web Sites

American Circus History

This informative, well-organized website gives circus history from 1793-1940. You can search the site by the following links: circuses, people, animals, acts, music, communication, transportation, and structures. You can find information by owner's name (included is Ricketts), where there is a brief description of his career, his circus acts, his performance itinerary, and related people. In addition, the site provides a helpful timeline.

Big Apple Circus

This is the website of a touring, non-profit, performing arts circus from New York. Community involvement seems to be a large focus of this circus, with programs designed to bring clowns in children's hospitals and circus performers into the classroom. There are thirteen wonderful study guides offered if you scroll down the link "About Our Circus." Included are ones on: circus etiquette (Message for the Student), History of the Circus, Marketing the Circus, and an interesting oral history from children who grow up in the circus.

Circus Historical Society

This site is a comprehensive resource for circus information. It includes publications, helpful links, photographs, ads and logos, and online circus history. It also covers specific circus topics like early side show, setting up the tent, and early circus seating, to name a few. The "logos" link allows you to see if a 20th century circus had its origins where you live. There are three from Pennsylvania listed: Hoxie Bros. And Great American Combined Circus, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1983; Wheeler Bros. Greater Shows, Oxford, Pennsylvania, 1914-1915; and Reo Bros. Circus, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, 1941.

Circus Present and Past

This site provides informative links to circus shows (touring in the United States and elsewhere), history of the circus, circus lore, and fans of the circus (a list of organizations). The "circus lore" link is particularly interesting, as it includes circus terminology.

Circus World Museum

Wisconsin Historical Society's Circus World Museum seeks to foster appreciation in role the circus has played in American life. It is the world's foremost research facility for circus history, and documents the American circus from its inception in 1793 to the present. During the summer the museum conducts live circus performances and demonstrations.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey

Official site with show details, schedules and tickets, and special offers.

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