Welcome Illinois State University!

Illinois State University (ISU) is our newest contributor, with 13 exciting collections including circus films, the letters of Buffalo Bill, and a collection of audio from historical extremist political movements in the United States. ISU is now the second largest contributor to the Illinois Digital Heritage Hub, contributing the metadata for nearly 20,000 objects.

One of these collections is the Passion for Circus collection of circus images, a collection of over 9400 photographs of the circus taken between the 1930s and the 1950s. The images come from the special collection of Sverre “Bex” and Faye Braathen, which came to the Milner Library in the mid-1970s after the Braathens passed away.

The Passion for Circus collection includes gorgeous color photographs of all things circus that Sverre shot on an Eastman Kodak Ektra F 1.9 camera using Kodachrome film. The photographs show the exciting and vibrant world of circus life and the spectators that flocked to these events. The images show the flashy costumes worn by the performers, the circus wagons used to transport the travelers and their animals around the country, and daring acts of acrobatics and contortionism.

Here is a sneak peak of some of the images from the collection.

Color image of two elephants pulling green circus cage wagon. Men in red outfits sit atop one elephant and the cage wagon.
Cage Wagon and Elephants. 1943. Illinois State University. Permission to display was given by Milner Library, Illinois State University.
Four people in image, from left to right: a clown with white and black face paint in a yellow and red outfit, one aerialist in a yellow and black outfit, a woman in blue holding two baby gorillas, and a man in background looking at the gorillas.
Circus personnel with gorilla. 1954. Illinois State University. Permission to display was given by Milner Library, Illinois State University.
Image of a woman wearing a large star headdress and green and white outfit, extending her arm and sitting on top of a horse.
Performer on a horse. 1956. Illinois State University.  Permission to display was given by Milner Library, Illinois State University
Woman in blue outfit and a rose in her hair. She is standing on her hands and her feet are on her shoulders
Performer doing contortions. 1950. Illinois State University. Permission to display was given by Milner Library, Illinois State University.
Woman and chimpanzees are sitting on grass, all are wearing light blue and silver outfits with tutus and headpieces.
Performer and chimpanzees. 1956. Illinois State University. Permission to display was given by Milner Library, Illinois State University.

For more on this collection, visit the Illinois State University Milner Library digital collections on their home site

You can also access all these images through DPLA this link