The IDHH celebrates Father’s Day by highlighting families of performers from Illinois State University’s Passion for Circus collection. Captured by photographer, Sverre “Bex” Braathen, the photographs are from a collection of nearly 10,000 that includes thousands of black and white photographs from the 1930s and thousands more color photos from the 1940s and 1950s from circuses all around the United States.
Below is a selection of several father-daughter and father-son acts, Alfred, Sr. and Alfred, Jr. Burton from the Ringling Barnum Circus, the Naitto family, Ala and his daughters, Nio and Margie, also of Ringling, and Ernest and Ernestine Clarke of the Tom Mix Circus. The Burtons performed balancing acts on high pedestals. The Naittos were high wire and tightrope performers. The Clarkes performed floor routines. Ernest was famous as a somersaulting leaper in his own Clarkonian Flying act of the Ringling Brothers circus.
Finally, several images capture Astrid and Ernst “Franklin” Schlichting of the Ringling Barnum Circus. Astrid, thirteen years old, performs hand balancing routines with her father, acts that require tremendous strength and concentration.
For more Father’s Day-themed items, take a look at all items among Illinois State University’s collections, including from the International Collection of Children’s Art.