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Purdue Circus photographs

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 47, Placement: 17
Identifier: MSP 226

Scope and Contents

The Purdue Circus photographs (May 5, 1916) documents the 1916 Purdue Circus festivities. Though circus-related events ran throughout the day and into the evening, the sixteen (16) photographs included on the two scrapbook pages in this collection -- taken by Purdue Pharmacy student Merritt Tam -- only document the parade through downtown Lafayette on the morning of May 5, 1916. The photographs depict mostly clowns and student groups, both walking and riding in floats or carriages. Also included is one photograph of an early U.S. military armored automobile.


  • May 5, 1916


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Material is in the public domain. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Historical Information

The Purdue Circus was part of the end-of-the-year celebrations for Purdue students during the early 20th century. Running from 1913-1916 and again from 1921-1922, the day-long Purdue Circus festivities featured a parade in the morning which included various student groups, clowns, and circus animals. Sideshows ran alongside May Day celebrations (which were primarily run and attended by women) followed by a larger circus performance in the evening. The evening performance featured attractions such as gymnasts and tumblers, tight-rope walkers, rented circus animals, clown football, and comedy routines. In 1917, as the U.S. entered WWI in Europe, the Purdue Circus was cancelled, only to be revived for two years following the end of the war before being abandoned altogether.


0.025 Cubic Feet (One folder)

Acquisition Information

Collection donated by Nannette Huffman, March 16, 2014.

Processing Information

The original order of the materials has been retained whenever possible. All materials have been housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes.
Purdue Circus photographs
Stephen Horrocks and Richard Bernier
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Second edition. Collection description was first completed 2017-05-10 by Stephen Horrocks.

Revision Statements

  • 2019-10-28: This collection description was updated by Richard Bernier to meet new requirements.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States