The Shows on the Road

Lightening Sculptor, Nabor Feliz Netzahualt
Lightening Sculptor, Nabor Feliz Netzahualt, worked independently and for several circuses, including the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus based in Miami County, Indiana
Native and African American Circus Employees Seize Labor, Travel and Educational Opportunities Across the Nation and Around the World
Center for American Indian Studies Programs
American Indian Studies Seminar Series
Wednesday, April 4, 2012

5:30 - 6:30 pm

TFL

Sakina Hughes, Michigan State University

While generally overlooked in circus histories, Native and African American circus employees had a broad impact on entertainment, art and culture at the turn of the twentieth century.  This paper examines how they used a window of opportunity in the traveling circus industry to create networks beneficial to their wider careers, education and travel options.  Employees used the circus as a springboard to open opportunities in vaudeville, the jazz industry, the burgeoning film industry and as producers, teachers and mentors.  Native and African American employees also used these opportunities to affect better working conditions, gain notoriety, build their own businesses, and relocate overseas.

AIS seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically two weeks prior to the seminar date. Email mcnickle@newberry.org to request a copy of the paper. Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.