Phineas Taylor Barnum, 1810-91, American showman, b. Bethel, Conn. As a youth Barnum worked at diverse sales jobs and managed a boardinghouse. He made his first sensation in 1835 when he bought and exhibited  Jocie Heth, a slave who claimed she was 161 years old (after her death it was found that she was about 80 years old) and had been the nurse of George Washington.


In 1842 he opened the American Museum in New York City and immediately became famous for his extravagant advertising and his exhibits of freaks. Among his great attractions were the Fejee Mermaid, “General Tom Thumb” who was viewed by over 20 million people, and the original Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng.


In 1850, Barnum managed the American tour of the Swedish singer Jenny Lind and, with his talent for publicity, made it a huge financial success for her and for himself.


In 1855 he retired from show business; he served as mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., and in the Connecticut legislature. Driven into bankruptcy by unwise business ventures, he reopened the American Museum and then organized his famous circus, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” which opened in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1871.


In 1881 he merged with his most successful competitor, James A. Bailey, and under the name Barnum and Bailey the circus continued for a generation after Barnum's death. The stellar attraction of the circus was Jumbo, the elephant that Barnum purchased from the London Zoo despite the protests of English elephant fanciers, including Queen Victoria.

Articles - Links - Mis


1890 Barnum's Parade Poughkeepsie NY

On the Inside

Barnum's Museum Cast

I Am Coming

P.T. Barnum Ephemera

Became Famous Because of His Museum

Black & White Baby Shows

P. T. Barnum's Estate

Barnum in the Field Again


P. T. Barnum & Friends


P. T. Barnum




 P. T. Barnum Residence




Barnum and Family





Residence of P. T. Barnum





Barnum in Carriage 1872




P. T. Barnum The World Known Proprietor of the American Museum New York







P.T. Barnum's Party in Yosemite Valley, Cal,


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