Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Circus in Town

By Marian Matyn

A large circus collection recently donated by Rev. James Challancin is being processed this term. Published materials, such as books, programs, and serials have been cataloged. Posters and scrapbooks have been processed and now thousands of clippings (all of which have to be photocopied), tickets, advertisements, and other miscellaneous items remain to be processed.

Here is a digitized image of a damaged poster. This Adams Bros. and Seils Bros Circus poster was printed by Neal Walters Posters Corp. of Eureka Springs, Ark., and advertised the circus performance in Caspian, MI (Iron County) in 1960.

The collection has issues. A lot of it has a strong mildew smell, which is not good, and some of it has water or mold stains. Being around this smell is unpleasant even with an air filter and air freshners going full strength. Mold can spread throughout stored collections and cause health problems in people. Because we cannot expose staff or patrons to mold, we have to withdraw moldy materials from the collection. Fortunately, with modern equipment we have some options and can preserve a scanned copy of the poster so we could preserve a nice, colorful part of circus history without causing contamination throughout the collection or health issues to staff, students, or the public.

Thanks to everyone who is helping in some way with this collection: Bronwyn, Tressa, Tanya, Sandy, Pat, Hayleigh, and me. Once the processing, inventorying, and rehousing is completed, I will edit the final copy of the finding aid, create the catalog record, and encode the finding aid making it Google searchable and linking it to the catalog record. A collection of this size and various formats is a group effort, led by yours truly, Marian Matyn, Archivist and Assistant Professor, Clarke Historical Library, CMU. For more information check out my blog at