Harvard Theatre Collection cabinet photographs of men in "freak shows"
Scope and Contents
This collection includes theatrical cabinet photographs of male performers who were designated as "freaks" for the purposes of popular entertainment. Also includes some animal acts. Includes portraits and group portraits.
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.
Extent1 linear feet (1 box)
Biographical / Historical
Cabinet card photographs were in use from about 1866 through the late 1920s. They were a thin photograph mounted on cards measuring 4 1/4 by 6 1/2 inches. The reverse side of the card usually included extensive logos and advertising information of the photographer.
A "freak" was defined as a person with something extraordinary about their appearance or behavior. A "freak show" was an exhibition of rarities, "freaks of nature," such as unusually tall or short humans, and people with both male and female secondary sexual characteristics or other extraordinary diseases and conditions, and performances that were expected to be shocking to the viewers. Changes in popular culture and entertainment led to the decline of the freak show as a form of entertainment.
Arranged alphabetically by name of subject of photograph.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
No accession number. Various donors.
Processed by Sarah Mirseyedi, 2018.
- Harvard Theatre Collection cabinet photographs of men in "freak shows", 1866-1929 (TCS 7): Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard University.
- July 24, 2018
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.
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