Route books were published at the end of the circus season and describe the show's activities for that year. They were sold to employees of the show and were also often advertised and sold to circus fans. The name "route book" is derived from the listing of planned and/or contracted show engagements, listed by month and date, and state and city, a compilation known as the "route." Grander volumes included much more information about show activity. By their very name, they indicated and underscored the itinerancy of the circus. Route books typically list all the personnel for the show, usually broken down by department. Stories and photos of employees may also be included. For circuses, the route traveled was key to the financial success of the show. Route books, as their name suggests, also listed cities visited, date(s) played, railroads used, and number of miles traveled. Provenance for the collection varies; from circuses, circus employees, individuals, booksellers, antique dealers, and other middlemen. The route books are for a diverse range of circuses, including well known circuses like the Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Ringing Bros Circus and what are now lesser known circuses such as Adam Forepaugh and Sells Brothers Circus, as well as specialty shows such as Pawnee Bill's Wild West and AL G. Barnes' Wild Animal Circus.
The Board of Trustees of Illinois State University
Mr. Dallas Long
Illinois State University
Head of Digital Collections
Mr. Mr. Ron
Digital Collection Manager
1842 - 1969
United States; Canada; Cuba; Mexico; South America; Europe.