Barnum Museum

About This Collection

Advertisements - Barnum Museum
The advertisements sub-collection includes a wide range of material, from colorful posters to handbills, broadsides, and couriers. While many of the items pertain to Barnum’s circus enterprises, some pre-date that time and relate to the era of his American Museum, including General Tom Thumb’s (Charles S. Stratton) tours.
Books and Booklets - Barnum Museum
The Books and Booklets sub-collection contains a variety of souvenir booklets about Barnum’s performers as well as several editions of his History of Animals, and a rare guidebook to the American Museum. Also included are two early circus route books, and beautifully illustrated children’s books. Material pertaining to Barnum’s life and death includes illustrations from his autobiography, a booklet concerning his religious beliefs, his Will and Codicils, and a biographical piece written by his widow. Where “covers only” are indicated in the record title, a complete example of a similar item can be found in the P. T. Barnum Digital Collection.
Clothing - The Barnum Museum
The Clothing sub-collection contains many garments and accessories Charles S. Stratton (General Tom Thumb), M. Lavinia Warren (Stratton's wife), and Lavinia's sister Minnie Warren, who were all little people. Items in the collection range from jackets and suits to a fur cape, a nightgown, and corset. Clothing worn by P. T. Barnum, including a top hat he purchased in his twenties, is also part of this collection.
Decorative Arts - The Barnum Museum
The Decorative Arts sub-collection includes ceramics, textile items, silver, and mixed medium items such as mantelpiece clocks and candlesticks. Some were mass-produced to satisfy popular crazes, such as the Lind-mania for Jenny Lind items, and later, Jumbo-mania, while others were expensive, custom-made items. Examples from Barnum’s porcelain dinner service, and the gilt tea service he acquired in France are included. A decorative architectural element from his home Iranistan, the only such item saved after the fire, is also in the collection.
Documents - The Barnum Museum
The Documents sub-collection includes various financial and legal documents like bank checks, banknotes, receipts, bill of sale, a deed, and contracts. It also includes a petition, an award, a marriage certificate and marriage notice, and a phrenology chart. Most of the items pertain to P. T. Barnum and his family, while a few relate to Charles S. Stratton (General Tom Thumb), his wife M. Lavinia Warren, and others.
Equipment - The Barnum Museum
The Equipment sub-collection is diverse in content with items ranging in size from carriages down to a thimble. The miniature carriages of Charles S. Stratton (General Tom Thumb) and George Washington Morrison Nutt (Commodore Nutt) are included, as is a nautical compass and spyglass used by Stratton on his yacht, and a riding crop, pony harness that belonged to him. The miniature thimble belonged to Stratton’s wife, M. Lavinia Warren.