You are browsing the archive for P.T. Barnum.

Race and the White Elephant War of 1884

Adam Green - October 11, 2017 in Adam Forepaugh, circus history, Culture & History, elephants, Featured Articles, history of racist soap adverts, Light of Asia, P.T. Barnum, pears soap, race, racism, racist soap advert, Toung Taloung, white elephants, White Fraud, white supremacy

Feuding impresarios, a white-but-not-white-enough elephant, and racist ads for soap — Ross Bullen on how a bizarre episode in circus history became an unlikely forum for discussing 19th-century theories of race, and inadvertently laid bare the ideological constructions at their heart.

Race and the White Elephant War of 1884

Adam Green - October 11, 2017 in Adam Forepaugh, circus history, Culture & History, elephants, Featured Articles, history of racist soap adverts, Light of Asia, P.T. Barnum, pears soap, race, racism, racist soap advert, Toung Taloung, white elephants, White Fraud, white supremacy

Feuding impresarios, a white-but-not-white-enough elephant, and racist ads for soap — Ross Bullen on how a bizarre episode in circus history became an unlikely forum for discussing 19th-century theories of race, and inadvertently laid bare the ideological constructions at their heart.

The Life and Adventures of James F. O’Connell, the Tattooed Man (1845)

Adam Green - July 30, 2013 in captivity, castaway, collections, Digital Copy: No Additional Rights, freakshow, Internet Archive, islanders, James F. O'Connell, Library of Congress, P.T. Barnum, shipwreck, tattoo, texts, Texts: 19th, Texts: Non-fiction, Underlying Work: PD Worldwide

The Life and Adventures of James F. O’Connell the Tattooed Man, by James F. O’Connell; 1845; W. Applegate, New-York. One of the main attractions at P.T. Barnum’s 1842 ‘freakshow’ American Museum was a man named James F. O’Connell, notable for his head to toe covering in tattoos, the U.S.’s first tattooed showman. To accompany his unusual appearance, the show featured O’Connell telling of how he received his tattoo during his years of captivity in the South Pacific. According to his account he became shipwrecked on the Caroline Islands and saved himself from death at the hands of the Ponapeans natives by performing a series of Irish jigs for their amusement. Though his life was spared he tells of how he was subject to a compulsory tattooing at the hands of a series of “voluptuous virgins” and how he was forced to marry the last of his tattooers. When a ship landed on the island in 1833 (some 5 years or so since his shipwreck there in the late 1820s) O’Connell left, making his way to the U.S. where he eventually ended up working in P.T.Barnum’s ‘freakshow’, telling tales of the eight day long process of tattooing he underwent and performing […]