The World's Largest Public Domain Media Search Engine

Sideshow photography

Is the conventional name for several types of entertainment and spectacle staged by traveling circuses at impromptu street circus shows, carnivals, booths, and fairs.Created by: PICRYL - Public Domain Media Search EngineDated: 1400
It is believed that such performances first appeared in England in the 17th century and were particularly popular in Britain during the Victorian era. Medical ethics did not exist at that time, and various "human curiosities" were seen as strange phenomena, surprising and threatening at the same time.

Sideshows first appeared in the United States in the late eighteenth century, and they became enormously popular in this country from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The Barnum and Bailey Circus was one of the first regular events of its kind in the United States in the mid-19th century. Sideshows, including "freak shows," were a common element of carnivals and fairs in America, and still had a place in Great Britain in the early 20th century, though they were much less common in other European countries.

The popularity of sideshows in Europe virtually disappeared after World War II, while in the United States it declined with the mass introduction of television in the second half of the 1960s. In addition, since the mid-20th century, many Western countries have passed special laws prohibiting performances for money or involving people with physical disabilities, despite the protests of some "freak artists" for whom these performances were a means of livelihood.

Another reason for the decline in popularity and availability of such performances was a change in societal values — whereas "freaks" were once considered fascinating and mysterious, in the second half of the 20th century a fundamentally different, ethical and compassionate attitude towards such people was promoted in society, with an unacceptable view of physical disabilities as "fascinating curiosities". Nevertheless, several "freak shows" still exist in the United States.
75 Media in collectionpage 1 of 1
Alice and Mother - A black and white photo of a woman and a child

Alice and Mother - A black and white photo of a woman and a child

Português: Alice ao lado de sua mãe. English: Alice with your mother

A Circus girl / Glasier, Brockton, Massachusetts.

A Circus girl / Glasier, Brockton, Massachusetts.

Female bareback rider in costume with horse. H117209 U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright by F.W. Glasier.

A man standing in front of a crowd of people, possibly related to: Selling tickets to the sideshow, county fair, central Ohio

A man standing in front of a crowd of people, possibly related to: Sel...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

"Igorrotes tilling the land." Philippine Reservation, Department of Anthropology, 1904 World's Fair

"Igorrotes tilling the land." Philippine Reservation, Department of An...

Title: "Igorrotes tilling the land." Philippine Reservation, Department of Anthropology, 1904 World's Fair.

Alice Doherty Children - An old photo of a woman sitting on a chair

Alice Doherty Children - An old photo of a woman sitting on a chair

Português: Alice aos sete anos de idade English: Alice at seven years old

An old photo of a man and a woman Untitled (knife thrower Signor Arcaris & sister Miss Rose Arcaris)

An old photo of a man and a woman Untitled (knife thrower Signor Arcar...

Title: Untitled (knife thrower Signor Arcaris & sister Miss Rose Arcaris).Artist: Gardner.Artist Bio: American photography studio, active late 19th - early 20th century.Creation Date: c. 1900.Process: Cabinet c... More

Klamath Falls, Oregon. At the sideshow of the circus

Klamath Falls, Oregon. At the sideshow of the circus

Picryl description: Public domain photograph of worker, marketplace, vendor, 1930s, Great Depression, economic conditions, free to use, no copyright restrictions.

A black and white photo of a crowd of people. Ohio during Great Depression.

A black and white photo of a crowd of people. Ohio during Great Depres...

Public domain photograph - United States during the 1930s and 1940s, Farm Security Administration, New Deal, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

Poster advertising sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

Poster advertising sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

Public domain photograph - historical image of Vermont, United States, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

Rutland, Vermont. Poster advertising a sideshow at the Vermont State Fair

Rutland, Vermont. Poster advertising a sideshow at the Vermont State F...

Public domain photograph of indoor, interior activity, America in the 1930s, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

Crowd listening to barker at sideshow, state fair, Donaldsonville, Louisiana

Crowd listening to barker at sideshow, state fair, Donaldsonville, Lou...

Public domain photograph - historical image of Louisiana, United States, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

Outside a freak show at the Rutland Fair, Vermont

Outside a freak show at the Rutland Fair, Vermont

Title and other information from caption card. Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944. More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is availabl... More

A sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

A sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

Picryl description: Public domain photograph of worker, marketplace, vendor, 1930s, Great Depression, economic conditions, free to use, no copyright restrictions.

A black and white photo of a crowd of people, possibly related to: At a "girlie" sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

A black and white photo of a crowd of people, possibly related to: At ...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

Manders Menagerie. Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

Manders Menagerie. Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

These two caravans were part of the Manders Menagerie travelling show. Here we can see a beautifully decorated caravan labelled G.Manders, alongside which stands a 'Birds Beasts and Reptiles' van. ..Accession:... More

Alice Family - A black and white photo of a group of people

Alice Family - A black and white photo of a group of people

Português: Alice ao lado de sua família English: Alice with your family

Backs of spectators at a sideshow, San Angelo Fat Stock Show, San Angelo, Texas

Backs of spectators at a sideshow, San Angelo Fat Stock Show, San Ange...

Public domain photograph of Great Depression era, artistic, art photography, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

Ashville, Ohio. Sideshows at the Fourth of July celebration

Ashville, Ohio. Sideshows at the Fourth of July celebration

Public domain photograph - historical image of Ohio, United States, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

Man biting snake at sideshow, state fair, Donaldsonville, Louisiana

Man biting snake at sideshow, state fair, Donaldsonville, Louisiana

Title and other information from caption card. Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944. More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is availabl... More

Decorations at a sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Vermont

Decorations at a sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Vermont

Picryl description: Public domain photograph of workers, war production, aircraft, airfield, the 1930s -1940s, free to use, no copyright restrictions.

Decorations at a sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Vermont

Decorations at a sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Vermont

Public domain image of carnival, parade, celebration, free to use, no copyright restrictions - Picryl description

Sign at travelling sideshow "crime museum" near Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Sign at travelling sideshow "crime museum" near Fort Bragg, North Caro...

Public domain photograph of 1930s North Carolina, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

A man sitting on a bench in front of a store. Office of War Information Photograph

A man sitting on a bench in front of a store. Office of War Informatio...

Title and other information from caption card. Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944. More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is availabl... More

A man standing in front of a crowd of people, Great Depression. FSA/OWI Photograph

A man standing in front of a crowd of people, Great Depression. FSA/OW...

Public domain photograph - United States during the 1930s and 1940s, Farm Security Administration, New Deal, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

A black and white photo of a man sitting on a bench. Office of War Information Photograph

A black and white photo of a man sitting on a bench. Office of War Inf...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

A sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

A sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

Public domain photograph - historical image of Vermont, United States, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

Count Orloff Foto frontal

Count Orloff Foto frontal

Der "durchsichtige" Count Orloff (Ivannow Wladislaus von Dziarski-Orloff) Public domain photograph, 20th-century male portrait, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

Pastrana - A black and white photo of a woman in a dress
Arthur Henri Poole - Spiral

Arthur Henri Poole - Spiral

Not quite a Wall of Death, but this must surely have been quite a thrilling act for audiences at Lloyd's Circus nonetheless. I like the tiny part of the crowd that's lit up by sunlight...Lloyd's Circus (aka Llo... More

Man chewing piece of snake which he has just bitten off, state fair sideshow, Donaldsonville, Louisiana

Man chewing piece of snake which he has just bitten off, state fair si...

Public domain photograph - historical image of Louisiana, United States, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

Poster for a side show at the Vermont state fair, Rutland

Poster for a side show at the Vermont state fair, Rutland

Public domain photograph - historical image of Vermont, United States, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

A black and white photo of a monkey on a rope. Office of War Information Photograph

A black and white photo of a monkey on a rope. Office of War Informati...

Title and other information from caption card. Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944. More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is availabl... More

Elisa Stewart - Hoppings. Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

Elisa Stewart - Hoppings. Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

Believed to be Elisa Stewart performing at the Hoppings, Newcastle. 1940's..The Hoppings is a popular fair in the North East of England, held in the last full week of June every year on Newcastle's Town Moor, s... More

[Trick photograph of man with two heads]

[Trick photograph of man with two heads]

H2989 U.S. Copyright Office. Sold by Almon E. Moxley of Boone, Iowa. Our photo No. 52. Exhibited as a digital copy in: "Not an Ostrich: And Other Images from America's Library" at the Annenberg Space for Photog... More

Animal Locomotion, Plate 535, England

Animal Locomotion, Plate 535, England

Picryl description: Public domain image, detail, hands, palm, gloves, free to use, no copyright restrictions.

C.A. Arthur as "Bearded Lady" - Society Circus, Long Branch

C.A. Arthur as "Bearded Lady" - Society Circus, Long Branch

Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress). Title from unverified data provided by the Bain News Service on the negatives or caption cards. General information about the George Grantha... More

A black and white photo of a man and a woman, possibly related to: Sideshows at the Ashville, July 4th celebration, Ashville, Ohio (see general caption)

A black and white photo of a man and a woman, possibly related to: Sid...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

Snake handler. Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

Snake handler. Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

This image comes from a collection of glass slides of fairground scenes found in the stores at Discovery Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne. twm_news/sets/72157627692102509/ ( twm_news/sets/72157627692102509/ ) ..We ... More

Circus strongman posing -  c0b2425a0c796307839eb7612087c330

Circus strongman posing - c0b2425a0c796307839eb7612087c330

Date supplied by cataloger based on similar item in collection.; Title supplied by cataloger from similar item in collection.; Corresponding negative number: 08_01_A_001996; Leon H. Abdalian Photographer

Alice Teennager - Public domain portrait print

Alice Teennager - Public domain portrait print

Português: Alice na adolescência English: Alice at teennager Public domain photograph of 19th-century Victorian style portrait, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

Lucasie Family - A black and white photo of three children

Lucasie Family - A black and white photo of three children

Rudolph Lucasie and his Familie were albinos of African descent. Phineas Barnum found them during a visit to Amsterdam in 1857. He brought them back to America where they became one of his most popular exhibit... More

Sideshow Alley advertising, Exhibition Ground Brisbane, ca. 1940 (7642266670)

Sideshow Alley advertising, Exhibition Ground Brisbane, ca. 1940 (7642...

Creator: Kelk, F. W. Location: Brisbane, Queensland Description: People walking down the sideshow ally in front of the Wax Works exhibition. View this page at the State Library of Queensland: .../10462/deriv/... More

A black and white photo of a man on a stage, possibly related to: A sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

A black and white photo of a man on a stage, possibly related to: A si...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

A man standing in front of a store talking on a microphone. Office of War Information Photograph

A man standing in front of a store talking on a microphone. Office of ...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

At a "girlie" sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

At a "girlie" sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

Public domain photograph of life in the United States in the 1930s, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

SLNSW 11503 Tex Mortons Cowboy Roadshow A cowboy with a boomerang

SLNSW 11503 Tex Mortons Cowboy Roadshow A cowboy with a boomerang

Tex Morton's Cowboy Roadshow. A cowboy with a boomerang

A crowd of people standing around a sign, possibly related to: Sideshow, State Fair, Rutland, Vermont

A crowd of people standing around a sign, possibly related to: Sidesho...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Negative has a hole punch made by FSA st... More

Part of the exhibit of the travelling sideshow "crime museum". Near Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Part of the exhibit of the travelling sideshow "crime museum". Near Fo...

Picryl description: Public domain image of a political campaign, politician, meeting, civil rights movement, African Americans, 1930s, mid-20th-century United States, free to use, no copyright restrictions.

Snake eater, sideshow, Donaldsonville, Louisiana

Snake eater, sideshow, Donaldsonville, Louisiana

Public domain photograph - historical image of Louisiana, United States, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

A black and white photo of a crowd of people. Office of War Information Photograph

A black and white photo of a crowd of people. Office of War Informatio...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

A black and white photo of a man standing in front of a crowd, possibly related to: Fortune teller and mind reader in sideshow, state fair, Donaldsonville, Louisiana

A black and white photo of a man standing in front of a crowd, possibl...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

Barker at a sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

Barker at a sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

Public domain photograph of United States agriculture in the 1930s, country, farmer, farm, great depression, migration, dust bowl refugees, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

A black and white photo of a man holding a baby, possibly related to: At a "girlie" sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

A black and white photo of a man holding a baby, possibly related to: ...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

A crowd of people standing around a man on a stage, possibly related to: At a "girlie" sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

A crowd of people standing around a man on a stage, possibly related t...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

Cdv lucasie2 - An old photo of three women and a baby

Cdv lucasie2 - An old photo of three women and a baby

Rudolph Lucasie and his Familie were albinos of African descent. Phineas Barnum found them during a visit to Amsterdam in 1857. He brought them back to America where they became one of his most popular exhibit... More

Decorations at a sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Vermont

Decorations at a sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Vermont

Public domain photograph - historical image of Vermont, United States, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

A man standing in front of a crowd of children, possibly related to: Children listening to barker at sideshow, state fair, Donaldsonville, Louisiana

A man standing in front of a crowd of children, possibly related to: C...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

A black and white photo of a man and two donkeys. Office of War Information Photograph

A black and white photo of a man and two donkeys. Office of War Inform...

Title and other information from caption card. Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944. More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is availabl... More

Poster advertising sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

Poster advertising sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

Title and other information from caption card. Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944. More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is availabl... More

A black and white photo of a man standing in front of a store. Office of War Information Photograph

A black and white photo of a man standing in front of a store. Office ...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

A crowd of people standing in front of a movie theater, possibly related to: At a sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

A crowd of people standing in front of a movie theater, possibly relat...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

A black and white photo of a crowd of people, possibly related to: At a "girlie" sideshow at the Rutland Fair, Rutland, Vermont

A black and white photo of a crowd of people, possibly related to: At ...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

Sideshow, State Fair, Rutland, Vermont

Sideshow, State Fair, Rutland, Vermont

Picryl description: Public domain photograph of a military parade, 20th-century armed forces, free to use, no copyright restrictions.

A man standing in front of a store. Office of War Information Photograph

A man standing in front of a store. Office of War Information Photogra...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

Crowds at the travelling sideshow "crime museum" near Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Crowds at the travelling sideshow "crime museum" near Fort Bragg, Nort...

Public domain photograph of 1930s North Carolina, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

Barker at sideshow with performers, state fair, Donaldsonville, Louisiana

Barker at sideshow with performers, state fair, Donaldsonville, Louisi...

Public domain photograph of Great Depression era, artistic, art photography, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

A black and white photo of a man holding a camera. Office of War Information Photograph

A black and white photo of a man holding a camera. Office of War Infor...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

A black and white photo of a man listening. Office of War Information Photograph

A black and white photo of a man listening. Office of War Information ...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

SLNSW 11483 Tex Mortons Cowboy Roadshow

SLNSW 11483 Tex Mortons Cowboy Roadshow

Tex Morton's Cowboy Roadshow Public domain photograph related to music, performing arts, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

SLNSW 11495 Tex Mortons Cowboy Roadshow A study of a cowboy

SLNSW 11495 Tex Mortons Cowboy Roadshow A study of a cowboy

Tex Morton's Cowboy Roadshow. A study of a cowboy

Sideshow at Royal Easter Show (Tiny Trixie's Cab), Sydney, c. 1930s, by Sam Hood (5548868782)

Sideshow at Royal Easter Show (Tiny Trixie's Cab), Sydney, c. 1930s, b...

Format: Photograph Find more detailed information about this photograph: 153585 Format: Photograph Search for more great images in the State Library's collections: From the collection of the State Library... More

A black and white photo of a crowd of people, possibly related to: Ashville, Ohio. Sideshows at the Fourth of July celebration

A black and white photo of a crowd of people, possibly related to: Ash...

Title and other information from a possibly related negative. Image came to Library of Congress untitled. (There was no caption for this image in the FSA/OWI shelflist.) Appears to be related to negative LC-USF... More

A black and white photo of a group of people. Office of War Information Photograph

A black and white photo of a group of people. Office of War Informatio...

Title and other information from caption card. Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944. More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is availabl... More

Waino & Plutano by Morris, Pittsburgh

Waino & Plutano by Morris, Pittsburgh

Carte de visite image of Waino & Plutano, the Wild Men of Borneo

SLNSW 132194 The Fat Lady Royal Easter Show 1935

SLNSW 132194 The Fat Lady Royal Easter Show 1935

The Fat Lady, Royal Easter Show, 1935