In this episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast, explore the letters P.T. Barnum wrote on New Year’s Day in 1846 as he navigated his business dealings on both sides of the Atlantic and grappled with the difficult decision of whether to return home during his wife’s confinement. From business schemes to the challenges of managing a family across the ocean, this episode offers a unique insight into the mind of the legendary showman. [Read more…] about Becoming PT Barnum: New Year’s Day, 1846
In this episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast, we learn about P.T. Barnum’s thoughts on personal wealth, honor, and “gulling” the public, as well as his religious beliefs and values.
We explore letters written in December 1845 in which Barnum discusses his wife’s pregnancy, his acquisition of paintings of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and his efforts to persuade others of his Universalist beliefs. Don’t miss this fascinating look into the personal and financial life of P.T. Barnum in the 19th century. [Read more…] about PT Barnum’s Personal Life
The Union Star described Cody as a “remarkable man,” a “hero of thousands of exploits,” and published a photograph of Cody with an extensive survey of his life and career as a guide, trapper, Pony Express rider, stagecoach driver, Civil War veteran, Medal of Honor recipient for gallantry, buffalo hunter (thus the nickname “Buffalo Bill”) and master showman. [Read more…] about Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Schenectady
In this episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast, P.T. Barnum works to promote the performances of his famous protégé, General Tom Thumb, in London. He uses handbills, street parades, and even advertising vans to attract a crowd. This episode includes an interesting tale of how Barnum brought General Tom Thumb to the stage in London and offers a unique glimpse into 19th century entertainment. [Read more…] about PT Barnum’s Promotion of General Tom Thumb in London
This episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast discusses an uncomfortable truth about showing human beings as curiosities. A letter from P.T. Barnum in November 1845 concerns the exhibition of people with genetic abnormalities. To be sure, this topic is complex. [Read more…] about PT Barnum & Showing Human Beings As Curiosities
This episode of the Becoming Barnum podcast explores circus impresario P.T. Barnum’s relationship with his family. A collection of letters written in 1845-46 during a trip to Europe include relatively few to his wife Charity Hallett Barnum.
Although it’s clear that Barnum missed his wife and their young children, the correspondence suggests a marital relationship that was often out of sync, compounded by Charity’s chronic health problems. [Read more…] about Becoming Barnum: Read & Reflect, Then Do as You Please
Dr. Gilbert R. Spalding was a pharmacist who operated a drug store in Albany, NY. Gilbert’s father, Guy Spalding, had operated the drug store starting about 1810. The Spaldings sold different varieties of chemicals, oils and alcohol that they would blend into medicinal drugs, paint, stains, varnish, cleaning fluids, and popular drinks.
They could make up a cure for almost anything from a headache to piles, consumption to lumbago. Their ability to blend medicines led their Albany neighbors to nickname both Guy Spalding and, later his son Gilbert, “Doc” Spalding. Gilbert Spalding operated the drug store from about 1840 to 1845. [Read more…] about Dan Rice & Spalding’s North American Circus Steamboats
Albany’s first museum was started in 1798 in a building on the corner of Green and Beaver streets. In the summer of 1808, two royal tigers were housed at the Thespian Hotel, a circus pitched its tent, and Ralph Letton started the Albany Museum.
The Albany Museum was located in the Old City Hall (Stadt Huys) on the northeastern corner of South Market Street and Hudson Avenue (today’s Broadway and Hudson Avenue). The Old City Hall was built in 1741 and was the site of the 1754 Albany Congress meeting where Benjamin Franklin first proposed the Albany Plan, a plan of union of the colonies that later was a basis for the U.S. Constitution. On its steps, the Declaration of Independence was first read to Albany on July 19, 1776 by the order of the Provincial Congress. With the construction of the new building on Eagle Street in 1808, the Old City Hall was converted into the Albany Museum. [Read more…] about The Albany Museum: Curiosities, Circus & Performing Arts
The New York City history blog The Bowery Boys has a great post on Barnum’s American Museum that includes a podcast, lots of images and a link to The City University of New York website devoted to Barnum’s, The Lost Museum. Both sites are worth checking out. [Read more…] about P.T. Barnum’s American Museum On The Web