Carnival & Sideshow Book Covers M-Z
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Sideshow Ballys and Banners
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Carnival & Sideshow History Books by Category
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Buffalo Bill's Handwriting and Signature
P. T.  Barnum's Handwriting and Signature
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Pro Wrestling History
Sideshow Performers
Carnival & Sideshow History
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Ventriloquism History
Magic History
Pro Wrestling History Bibliography
Carnial & Sideshow History Bibliography
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Recommended Reading
Below is a selective list of carnival and sideshow history sites.

If you would like to recommend others please contact us.
Pro Wrestling History Links
Sacramento, California USA
Magic History Links
Carnival & Sideshow History:

Click here for a Soundprint Media broadcast featuring residents of Gibsonton, Florida ("Gibtown"), retirement and off-season destination for carnival and sideshow people.

Wayne Keyser has produced some beautiful works of sideshow history in CD, DVD and mp3 formats. The e-book titles are Bally: Sounds of the Sideshow and On the Midway. The two and a half hour DVD production is The Carnival's Been and Gone. These titles are very reasonably priced and can be ordered directly from Wayne at

Todd Robbins' Sideshow Page is the best overview of sideshow history and terminology we have seen. We were very fortunate to get Todd Robbins' permission to reprint it here at The House of Deception.

Performer, historian, and banner artist Johnny Meah, The Czar of the Bizarre had a beautiful, artistic, and entertaining website which is now apparently gone. Here you can watch a brief interview (produced by Keri Watson at the University of Central Florida School of Visual Arts and Design) with this legendary authority on all facets of the carnival and sideshow.

Both Todd Robbins and Johnny Meah are featured commentators on the 2004 release of Tod Browning's 1931 movie," Freaks." This is a must-see for every sideshow historian and enthusiast.

And speaking of legendary circus and sideshow authorities, here is an interview, also produced by Keri Watson at UCF, with Ward Hall, King of the Sideshows (1930-2018).

Joe Nickell's scholarly article, "Sideshow! Carnival Oddities and Illusions Provide Lessons for Skeptics" is well worth the read and includes references listed in our Carnival Sideshow Bibliography.

John Robinson's Sideshow World is a huge, useful site for history as well as information on current shows, conventions and other events. His mission is "Preserving the Past...Promoting the Future of Sideshow."

James Taylor's Shocked and Amazed: On and Off the Midway is a superb publication dedicated to sideshow history.

Elizabeth Anderson (known at "Ratt" to her appreciative readers), an artist and University of Texas product, offers many biographies and photos of sideshow performers at She is especially interested in conjoined twins and other medical anomalies. [This wonderful site seems no longer extant. Please email us if you have updated information.]

Carny Lingo:

If you are interested in the inside jargon of the carnival, James Taylor has an article on carny lingo and terminology, based on the work of the renowned historian Joe McKennon (see our Sideshow Bibliography).

Wayne Keyser offers an even more comprehensive treatment of the subject in his e-book, On the Midway. Click here to see a free sample page. You should have copies of his historical CDs and DVD (listed above).

Coney Island History:

Begin with a visit to the Coney Island History Site by Jeffrey Stanton (formerly published through UCLA). Jeff's site includes links to many important history articles, as well as a rides and shows list, a timeline, and some hand-drawn maps, which are highly effective due to their simplicity. These are among the very best Coney Island historical references on the web.

See also:

The Coney Island History Project, which strives to create an oral history of the area and teach young people the techniques of oral history.

The enhanced transcript of the PBS documentary, "The American Experience: Coney Island"

Coney Island: Forty Years as the Carnival Capital by Laurence Aurbach Jr. is a scholarly article that includes notes and a bibliography.

Coney Island Complex, a tour of Coney Island subway yards

Other House of Deception Favorites:

To the Hilt offers a History of Sword Swallowing, a Sword Swallower's Hall of Fame, and a list of quality links.

Poster Collection:

Prepare to be overwhelmed by the vast content and incredible beauty of You will find posters and photographs not only of sideshow and circus performers, but also of every other allied art and showperson of the Golden Age imaginable.

Care and Preservation of Posters and other Old Paper:

To learn to properly care for your library and collection see The Library of Congress, Collections Care and Preserving Works on Paper.

The American Institute for Conservation is a professional organization for conservators. Their Caring for Your Treasures pages provide useful brochures, in PDF format, on conserving books, photos and other paper documents.

The folks at have created a comprehensive page about paper, document, and photo preservation. Information on how paper deteriorates and what various papers are composed of is included.

Related Sites:

Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin

Lavahn G. Hoh, Professor of Drama at the University of Virginia, taught the only accredited course in America on the circus. His book, "Step Right Up! The Adventure of Circus in America" is still available on various sites.

Circus Posters, Princeton University Library

Carnival & Sideshow History Links
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Duff Johnson 2004-2024
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