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Milner Library announces Circus & Allied Arts Collection Fellowship

1953 circus entrance

Digital reproduction of an original 35mm slide from the Circus & Allied Arts Collection of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus main entrance on July 7, 1953

Milner Library at Illinois State University is accepting applications for its inaugural Circus & Allied Arts Collection Fellowship. This $1,500 award is available to scholars external to Illinois State University who are interested in researching any topic that requires the onsite use of the Circus & Allied Arts Collection housed in Milner Library’s Special Collections.

The $1,500 Circus & Allied Arts Collection Fellowship is intended to support costs associated with the selected scholars’ proposed research project including, but not limited to, costs of travel, room and board, digital scans, and other expenses related to utilizing the Circus & Allied Arts Collection for research purposes.

“This is an exciting award because it will allow more researchers to be able to physically access and learn from the unique and significant materials we have under our care in the Circus & Allied Arts Collection,” explained Maureen Brunsdale, head of Special Collections at Milner Library. “We look forward to welcoming those who want to learn more about this amazing amusement dedicated to ‘children of all ages.’”

Founded in 1955, the Circus & Allied Arts Collection was created initially to document the important relationship between Bloomington-Normal and circus acts throughout modern history. Bloomington was a popular winter training location for numerous aerialists such as The Flying Fishers, The Flying Wards, and The Concellos. Today, the collection is one of the largest collections of circus materials in the country. Items in the collection consists of materials such as books, correspondence, personal papers, periodical holdings, posters, prints, slides, advertising pieces, photographs, films, music scores and recordings, route books, and much more. The Circus & Allied Arts Collection also includes materials from related arts such as carnivals, carousels, Wild West shows, and vaudeville.

The Circus & Allied Arts Fellowship is open to all graduate students enrolled in an institution of higher education pursuing a degree at a master’s level or higher, all faculty members employed at an institution of higher education, or researchers or scholars who hold a master’s degree or higher and are currently employed in a cultural heritage institution (e.g., gallery, library, archives, or museum). Current Illinois State University students and faculty members are not eligible for this award.

Awards will be granted twice a year. Deadline to apply is November 8, 2019, for onsite visits planned in spring or summer of 2020. Those interested in a fall 2020 onsite visit need to apply no later than May 8, 2020. For more information about this award, contact Associate Dean Dallas Long. For additional information on the Circus & Allied Arts Collection, contact Head of Special Collections Maureen Brunsdale.